In this week's blog interview, Erica Dhawan turns the tables and interviews me.
Erica is the author of Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional
Intelligence, founder and CEO of Cotential, and Thinkers50 featured emerging
management thinker. This week she asks me what leadership means to me. Below is the
excerpt from our interview.
If you want to learn more about Getting Big Things Done from Erica, take her free
Connection Intelligence Quiz. And check out her new online course on Udemy, Get
Big Things Done: Become a Standout Collaborator!
Erica: Marshall, you've been a luminary in the leadership world
for years. Can you tell us what leadership means to you?
Marshall: I like to use operational definitions when defining what
leadership means to me. That way I don't get into semantics arguments about right
and wrong. My mentor Dr. Paul Hersey taught me that the operational definition of
leadership is working with and through others to achieve objectives. And the key
word is "others".
My friend Alan Mulally, who you and I both know, is an amazing leader. The former
CEO of Ford and probably the best leader in this century in the United States, Alan
said, "For the great individual achiever, it may be about "me", for the great
leader, it's all about "them". And that's really the focus of leadership. It's not
about "me"; leadership is about "them". It's about others.
Erica: It reminds me of a metaphor. I think of a conductor in an
orchestra and the conductor is guiding the group. The conductor is in the spotlight,
but it's about the orchestra. In many ways all of us as leaders, whether it's sports
or business or music or the arts, find that it's all about how are we cultivating
and holding space for others to do their best work.
Marshall: That's right - That's one of the reasons I love your
book, Get Big Things Done:The Power of Connectional Intelligence. Because in
the past, the leader was much more telling people what to do and how to do it. In
the future, the leader is going to do exactly what you're talking about with
connectional intelligence. Leaders will be facilitators who are helping people learn
from everyone around them.
I'm a great believer in situational leadership, which says there is no one best
school of leadership and your leadership style depends on the situation. So, leaders
need to match their leadership style with the readiness level of their people. This
makes a ton of sense.
Let's say I'm your manager. You want to learn and need to learn well, therefore I
should use kind of a coaching or advising style, but there's a problem. I don't know
what you're talking about. How can I teach you what I don't know myself? What I
learned from our wonderful friend Alan is the importance of, "if you don't know the
answers, it's okay." Teach people to learn from everyone around them and don't fake
it. Don't pretend to have knowledge you don't have. In that way, I think what you're
doing is totally connected with leadership in the future!
Erica: Thank you Marshall for these great insights! For more of my
interview with Marshall, check out my podcast "Masters of Leadership with Erica