Join John Ullmen for an in-depth discussion in this video The four disciplines of executive leadership, part of Executive Leadership.
- Executive leadership is like an ocean voyage of discovery and you’re the captain. Your people are counting on you to find a way to arrive safely and successfully despite currents and storms. How do you do it? The foundation is that all of your choices as an executive leader should align with two principles, earn trust and serve your people. Those are must haves. Those are litmus tests, and everything you do, everything you say, should pass those tests, and take strength from those motives. We cover those two principles in separate videos.
Now given that you follow those principles, how should you focus your efforts? In four distinct ways, what I call the four disciplines of executive leadership. By discipline I mean consistent action. The four disciplines are top priority, integrated sets of practices and actions for executive leadership success. First set direction, where are you leading us? Omar Bradley said, “Set your course by the stars, “not by the lights of every passing ship.” It’s challenging, we need direction, but not just any direction.
Nor one that is too susceptible to change, though things change around us every day. Second, motivate commitment. Why should we give our best effort? You must make a convincing case, and embody the inspiration you want to see in others. On this point, there’s a fine excerpt from The Little Prince that captures the difference between operational management and visionary leadership. “If you want to build a ship, “don’t drum up the people to gather wood, “divide the work, and give orders.
“Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” Operational matters are crucial, and that’s why you place excellent people into those roles. Your role is to engender that yearning. That internal self-chosen dedication to bring our most engaged, creative, energetic selves to our shared purpose. Third, drive for results. What happens when trouble happens? Changes, challenges and crisis will come, you must prepare us to adapt and endure, and prevent us from giving in to excuses, naivety and fatigue.
William Arthur Ward said, “The pessimist complains “about the wind, the optimist expects it change, “the realist adjusts the sails.” Fourth, develop yourself. How do you equip yourself for the journey? You can’t give your people what they deserve for long unless you give yourself what you need too. Leading others is a voyage in the outer world of tangible results, and the inner world of your own growth. It takes curiosity and courage. Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now, “you’ll be more disappointed by the things “you didn’t do than those you did.
“So throw off the bowlines. “Sail away from safe harbor. “Catch the wind in your sales. “Explore. “Dream. “Discover.” It’s a great theme for your learning as a leader. What you do to help your people grow too, as you set a course for them to succeed. That takes us right back to the first discipline, setting direction, so all four disciplines work together. As an executive leader your ability to master the disciplines enables you to fulfill the overarching aim of serving your people as well as you’re capable of doing.
You do what needs to be done to inspire them to do what they’re capable of doing, learning and becoming. In the following chapters each of the four disciplines is broken down into several practices each with its own video. Each video has several specific action steps to guide you how to implement each practice. It’s also summarized in a downloadable handout in your exercise file. So throw off the bowlines, catch the wind in your sails. Go through the videos in each of the four disciplines, and note carefully which action steps you need to do more often.
Then explore and discover. Start them right away.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- The four disciplines of executive leadership
- Thinking strategically
- Creating shared purpose
- Inspiring confidence—even under pressure
- Motivating and communicating
- Establishing priorities and focus
- Leading change
- Developing yourself