Let me ease the suspense right now—there is no one recipe or secret sauce for a “great leader.” The mere fact that people define “great” in different terms makes it difficult to provide a precise formula for achieving this somewhat coveted label. My own blog posts over the past few months have almost exclusively focused on some version of influence as a key leadership skill—reflecting my underlying belief that influence, properly rooted in versatility and the ability to meet people where they’re at, is a powerful foundation for effective leadership.
That said, influence is just one piece of the puzzle—one ingredient of “the sauce,” if you will. And while there is no formula, there is certainly a framework in which to operate when it comes to building great leaders. This past year The Bailey Group has devoted a lot of resources to bringing some additional structure to our framework, and we even gave it a name: Activate. Activate is designed as a full-service, cohort-based, blended approach to leadership development. There are two key features of Activate—skills and characteristics.
Our belief is that a skill is teachable—you can become an expert at a skill. You can attend a workshop, learn about a skill, and apply it to real life without any barriers save for your own lack of diligence and follow-through. Building high-performing teams, agility and influence are examples of leadership skills.
A characteristic, on the other hand, is more personal—it’s an attribute or a feature of one’s individual personality. It’s pretty difficult to sit in a classroom and learn a characteristic. In fact, it’s quite likely that certain characteristics, or lack of, consistently keep you from properly applying key leadership skills. Which is why in Activate, we utilize one-on-one coaching to build the specific characteristics we’ve identified as consistent among some of the best leaders out there. What is it about you that prevents you from being your most effective self? What is your belief system and default approach that acts as a firewall between you and the next level of great leadership? Transparency, emotional intelligence and resilience are just a few characteristics best addressed in individual coaching.
You could say that Activate is our secret sauce and the skills and characteristics we address are the key ingredients. Either way, I’d like to use my blog as an occasional forum to dig into those ingredients a bit more. I look forward to your continued dialogue, input, ideas and questions.