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What Leaders Know - Presentation Slides

What Leaders Know

Componets Of Fighting Power

Components of Fighting Power

The application of effective leadership is the most important factor in contributing to optimal performance for any organisation. Within the British Army, the term ‘Fighting Power’ describes our operational effectiveness in meeting the challenges of a given situation.

Failure to apply effective leadership at any level of the organisation, from the smallest team to its largest structures, can rapidly undermine the other interconnected ‘physical’ and ‘conceptual’ components, leading to weaker organisational performance as a whole.

This concept has utility both inside and outside of a military context, across a range of sectors and industries, where the prevailing operating context may necessitate a reconfiguration or refinement of the conceptual, physical & moral elements of the organisation to achieve optimal performance. What endures, however, is the need to always consider these three components, how they interrelate in a given environment, and recognise the value of effective leadership in enhancing overall performance.

*OPFOR = Opposing Force (or conceivably the competitors/customers/objective of a respective industry).

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Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Is emotional intelligence (EQ / EI) the single most important skill in being an effective leader? Arguably you cannot lead effectively without it. So does the art of leadership begin a little closer to home?

Being self and socially-aware allows you to perceive yourself through the eyes of others - supporting the development of humility, empathy, and a genuine desire to understand how your actions, words & behaviours effect those around you.

It relies on the ability to really listen and truly value the opinions of others. When applied effectively, leaders with good emotional intelligence foster an environment of psychological safety and adapt their leadership style to compliment the situation, resulting in a team culture where individuals can genuinely thrive.

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Compassion And Caring In Leadership (1)

Compassion and Caring in Leadership

Empathy and compassion are vital skills for all leaders, and key to ‘knowing your people’ - a core element of the Army Leadership Framework. It requires a personal understanding of the emotions and feelings of others, combined with a genuine willingness to improve the situation.

Beyond compassion, ‘familial care’ represents the deeper bonds forged between Army leaders, followers, peers - kinship-like bonds that are often forged in high pressure environments, such as in training and on operations.

Yet there will always be a leadership ‘sweet spot’. It neither encapsulates empathy nor familial carefully, as both risk less rational and more emotion-based decision-making. However, it is still vital in some contexts where the most courageous of actions are required.

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Psychological Safety

Psychological Safety - Fostering Responsible Challenge Culture

We frequently talk about the importance of embracing a 'challenge culture', but how do we foster one as leaders? Can there be too much challenge? This is where psychological safety comes in. A healthy challenge culture is optimal for high team performance - where all team members feel genuinely comfortable to raise issues and concerns, expose problems, and challenge the status quo, without fear of being disadvantaged, and with a genuine desire to drive improvement.

But challenging constructively, responsibly and respectfully requires an inclusive and supportive environment at its foundation, where increasing levels of mutual respect means team members feel valued, know that their viewpoints matter, and an increasing sense of ‘permission’ and safety to ask questions and offer ideas without fear of belittlement or being undermined.

Without this foundation, challenge may come across as confrontational, with those being challenged likely becoming defensive in justifying their ideas. In the worse case scenario, this could lead to team members shying away from challenging altogether, which is very bad news for the team, the organisation, and everyone involved, potentially stifling growth and innovation.

[source: based on the framework of Timothy R. Clark - The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety (2010)]

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Retnetion Of What We Learn7

Retention of What We Learn

How effective is your organisation’s leadership development programme? Can leadership be effectively ‘taught’ in the classroom, or by attending a leader-development conference, seminar or event?

Genuine and meaningful leader development occurs when we repeatedly ‘do’, and routinely exemplify a morally and ethically sound set of values and behaviours. Values that aren’t just buzzwords written on an office wall, but ones that are positively reinforced daily by staff and leaders alike.

Undoubtedly all methods of learning have merit, but which ones truly stick when it comes to organisational leader development? Are these methods the right ones currently used in your workplace, and how can you make your leadership training more experiential, hands-on, and part of your routine daily business?

*Model for illustrative purposes only - challenges to this research exists.

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Followership Behavourial Styles

Followership Behavioural Styles

Most qualities associated with being an effective leader are mirrored by those of effective followers. Both are committed to the same purpose, and both have obligations to the team as well as the individuals within it. Both live by shared values and standards. Both are expected to show behaviours consistent with, and complimentary to, the expectations of military service and the society that we serve. Thus, it is the respective responsibilities of each role that defines the difference, rather than different qualities themselves.

An individual’s character, motivations, and experience, coupled with the environment they are working in (leaders, peers, climate, culture and task), all influence behaviour. Follower effectiveness can therefore be assessed across two continuums: the level of a follower’s engagement, from passive to active; and their ability to exercise independent, critical thinking. The result is a presentation of five dominant followership behavioural styles:

  • Exemplary Followers (Stars). Exemplary followers are fundamental to mission success. Responsible, motivated, and professional, they engender trust. They encourage delegation and devolved responsibility. Proactive and independent in thought, they demonstrate disciplined initiative within the boundaries of a leader’s intent. They are risk-takers and problem-solvers who undertake their work with energy and enthusiasm. Critically, they have the courage and judgement to challenge for the betterment of the team and the mission. They are the most effective enablers and executors of Mission Command.
  • Alienated Followers (Cynics). Alienated followers are independent and critical in their thinking but passive, or even destructive, in carrying out their role. They can often be cynical and work against the collective efforts of the team. In the worst cases, alienated followers will undoubtably undermine the efforts of the leader, seeking to recruit passive or disruptive consensus from others within the group to rationalise their own position.
  • Passive Followers (Sheep). Susceptible followers with no sense of responsibility. They are passive, lack initiative and independence of thought, and blindly conform to others. Exploitive or toxic leadership cultures that repress individual contributions and challenge will undoubtably encourage such obedient compliance.
  • Conformist Followers (‘Yes’ People). Followers who are more proactive than the passive followers but still lack initiative and critical thought. They are colluders - eager to please and can be aggressively deferential, even servile. In a destructive leadership environment, such subservience, or collusion, can magnify the power of the leader, thus enabling a toxic climate.
  • Pragmatist Followers (Survivors). Pragmatist followers act not out of loyalty to the leader, the team, or to the mission, but according to their own self-interests and preservation. They continuously assess their own situation and immediate environment and adapt their approach accordingly to achieve the best personal outcome or advantage, often basing their self-serving decisions and actions on an assessment of personal risk verses reward.
     

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