A company president asked, “What are some of the leadership goals you try to promote?”
I sent him the following list, and offer it to a wider audience of leaders for consideration:
Asking a question with the attitude of wanting to discover something new:
“I’m more interested in exploring than in leading you to my solution.”
Confidence tempered by the sober recognition of dumb luck in one’s success:
“Yes, I’ve worked hard, and acknowledge my talent. At the same time, I can see that ‘privilege’ and ‘breaks’ gave me great advantages.”
Firm conviction moderated by openness to new information and insight:
“This is what I believe now, but I’m open to review.”
Discernment before deciding
Looking at all sides of an issue or belief instead of “jumping” based on emotion:
“There’s no easy answer to most important decisions, so I’ll reflect before concluding.”
Connection without fusion
Maintaining togetherness without the impinging “demands” of intense attachment:
“I want to experience closeness and connection while distinguishing ‘me’ from ‘us’”
Belief without persuasion
Holding a strong belief without the need to convince others you are right:
“I’m not saying I’m ‘right’. This is my belief, and others have the right to their beliefs.”
Emotional self honesty and emotional self-regulation
Knowing what you are feeling while choosing whether and how to express it:
“I’m in tune with my feelings, but my feelings don’t control me.”
Self-purpose without selfishness
Clearly defining what you want without making it everything:
“I know what I want and where I want to go, but I’m not the center of the Universe.”
Distinguishing between genuine need and fake need before offering help:
“I modify my desire to be helpful based on whether dispensing help makes sense.”
Influence without control
Helping others grow without telling them what to do:
“I allow my behavior to speak for itself; I don’t know what’s best for others.”
Comfort with discomfort
Learning to embrace the emotional discomfort that leads to progress:
“I’m able to choose discomfort and sacrifice for the sake of a greater good.”
Favoring “contributing factors” over “cause”
Thinking more deeply, and realizing there’s rarely a single cause for any problem:
“I am suspicious of simplistic solutions to complex problems.”
It would be irresponsible of me not to emphasize that the above markers of higher functioning invite a lifetime of work. The commitment to become one’s best self is neither short-term nor discipline-free.
Dedicating oneself to a lifetime of work on anything appears counter-cultural in an era when “instant” messaging, superficial “tweeting” and abbreviation-littered “texting” dominate.
For this reason, many leaders (including myself) have found it helpful to engage a sounding board, confidant or coach to assist with progress on these important aspects of emotional well-being.
5 Responses to “February 2016: Twelve Markers of High-Functioning Leadership”
February 01, 2016 at 2:44 pm, Lisa Smith said:
John, thank you for the reminders, each of these markers is important as well as the reminder that it is a commitment over time and takes thoughtful practice.
February 02, 2016 at 1:35 am, John Cammack said:
A commendable set of attributes.
February 11, 2016 at 1:15 pm, Lynn Acquafondata said:
Outstanding list. I love the use of contrasting states and approaches in each of these. It shows how good leadership involves working towards internal as well as external balance.
February 16, 2016 at 4:35 pm, 3 Lesser Known Principles Required for Effective Family Business Leadership - Family Business Resources said:
[…] week I was reading John Engles’ on the 12 Markers of High Functioning Leadership and realized that they are important […]
February 25, 2016 at 11:44 pm, Joseph Engels said:
Dad, I like these attributes. I especially like your comments at the end. Dedication is more against, than with, the cultural tide right now, and I think the expectation of immediacy (pervading communication, sexual relationships, entertainment, and food prep, to name a few venues) has primed us away from a view that recognizes slow progress. Cheers.