Understanding the Leadership Trinity will help you create a plan for increasing your effectiveness in your role of leading others. It will also provide a framework for you to identify which areas in your leadership you need to focus on next. If you are training managers, the Leadership Trinity will help you think through some core areas and give you a starting point as you develop your staff.
Know Thy Business
Here I am not talking about head knowledge regarding your industry but rather knowing what success looks like inside your company. For example, a manager of a fortune 100 company will have very different criteria for success than the manager of a charitable organization doing relief work in Haiti. Both organizations are tasked with a job to get done, but these jobs are most certainly very different. Your end goal determines what it takes to get there. As a manager, you want to be crystal clear on what is required in order to have success within your company.
Being knowledgeable on your company’s mission and values is a good place to start. What is your company trying to accomplish, what is most important, and how does your role fit into the larger picture? Your company’s mission and values should provide you with a blueprint for what success looks like. If it doesn’t then your company probably has a very weak and/or generic mission and values statement.
An organization that is working to help impoverished families in a developing country may not care as much about the professionalism of its corporate brochures whereas an advertising agency would put great stock in its printed image. If you don’t understand exactly what your company needs most from you, then it’s easy to become a watered down jack of all trades. Where does your organization need you to be excellent? Are you excelling in these areas?
Know Thy People
What do you need to know in order for your people to be successful in your company? This can be broken down into two main areas. The first is basic knowledge of engagement and human motivation. While everyone is different, we all belong to the same species known as the human race. We all share a similar set of predictable tendencies. Every manager should educate themselves in the basics of human motivation and engagement. Understanding the principles of Autonomy, Purpose, Achievement, Growth and Recognition (to name a few) are essential to motivating your staff. (For an easy to follow guide, pick up a copy of the book Nine Minutes on Monday to help you practically master these principles.)
However, as much as we share a common blueprint for excellence, people still need a customized approach in order to reach their highest levels of motivation . For this reason it is important for managers to know their staff. Everyone has been shaped by different life events, experiences, and of course genetics. The more you know one of your direct reports, the clearer the picture becomes on how to motivate, and engage them at work. Learn how each of your staff likes to be motivated, rewarded, corrected, and what they feel they need from you. This knowledge will help you customize your leadership.
Lastly, be sure to combine your knowledge with your staff with your knowledge of your company’s goals. You don’t need your people to be well rounded individuals, you instead need them to be experts in a few areas that will help them, and you, be successful.
The last area of the Leadership Trinity is the all-important knowledge of self. Leaders must have a crystal clear idea of who they are, and who they are not. What are the biggest strengths you bring to your staff? What are the most important things they need from you? What are your biggest weaknesses? This last question is extremely important because it helps you put into place, safeguards. A safeguard is a simple system to protect your people and your company from one of your weaknesses. For example if you are an extremely task-focused manager, you probably tend to drop the ball a bit with the people side of management. If this is you, then you might want to put into place a system that will help you engage with your people on a regular basis. This can be as simple as setting a weekly goal to connect with each of your direct reports. Such a system will protect them from your task-focused nature. If you know that you tend to be a bit controlling as a manager, then set a system in place which will consistently force you to delegate and allow others more flexibility and freedom. The key to knowing thyself is being open to seeing your blind spots. This of course is hard because our ego tends to get in the way as well as the fact that blind spots are things which are hard for us to see. Feedback from your staff can help you here.
If you combine the three elements of the Leadership Trinity, you end up with a powerful snapshot on what you and your people need to be in order to have the greatest success in the company you are currently with. I can’t emphasize this point enough, but clarity in all three areas is what will set you apart from many other leaders out there today.