From Wordsmithing to Walking the Talk of Great Leadership

Two thoughts today:

First Thought: How do you make a value of the month yours, really owning it?

More directed to a) the ‘wordsmithing’ part of my post title, b) the MWA Language of Intention and c) connected to our Ho‘ohana this month, I’ve posted this First Thought discussion in the MWA Jumpstart program today:

Key words, Key thoughts for KÅ«lia i ka nu‘u

Second Thought: How do you bring the values of your business in alignment with what is actually done there every single day? Is your ownership in the way you manage every day enough, or do you have to stick your neck out further and take responsibility for leadership, and for “Level 5 Leadership?”

From Jim Collins’ Good to Great (with a blending of MWA):

At Level
is the Executive who builds enduring greatness (what I we call ‘Imi ola).

At Level 4 is the Effective Leader who catalyzes vigorous pursuit of vision stimulating higher performance standards (what I we call KÅ«lia i ka nu‘u.)

At Level 3 is the Competent Manager who organizes people and resources toward the pursuit of objectives (what I we call managing with aloha)

At Level 2 is the Contributing Team Member, working effectively with others in the organization (what I we call Ho‘ohana at its basic level, and working with aloha)

At Level 1 is the Highly Capable Individual, who makes productive contributions through talent, knowledge, skills, and good work habits (what I we call living with aloha)

Coaches need their own coaching (we love it), and as I alluded to in my last post, I’ve adopted Jim Collins as my “mentor in a book” this month. I’m reading the articles on his website one by one, studying them slowly, savoring them. I’m reading Good to Great again, and listening to it on audio at the same time (whenever I’m in my car) remembering anew why I was so crazy about his book the first time around.

Collins begins Good to Great talking about is a word I use a lot: Great.

This weekend, I went pretty deep into my own thoughts on what that means in MWA, and specifically about “Great Leading.” I posted an article on the blog Synergy about my introspective study, with a shout out for some help. My article is called “Great Leading” means what, exactly? And it poses these questions:

1. Forget about the gurus; we all can be thought leaders too: What is “Great Leading” to you? [Marcus] Buckingham and Collins are two highly respected authors, but they are the first to admit, as Collins offers, that “the very best students are those who never quite believe their professors.”

2. How do you define the leading we need today in your everyday world? Even if you bow out and say “Nope, not me ” I have no penchant for leadership,” what do you want from those who do pick up the baton?

3. Perhaps I’m the one you don’t quite believe ” Do you buy that everyone can lead? What do you think I have to coach would-be leaders in? What is “walking the talk” of Great Leading?

4. Forget about business, and tackle the human problem part of this. Let’s make it real for you. What does it take to be a Great Leader outside the arena of your job where it’s normally expected? Easier? Harder? Is there any difference?

5. And I wonder, what must Great Leading begin to look like in the blogosphere? If you are reading this, you are leaps and bounds beyond the majority of the world in terms of your “multi-media literacy.” Whether you blog or “just read ‘em” how can you be leading? What kind of virtual leaders are you hoping will appear on your radar?

As Jim Collins says, answers to these questions get to be human problems, not just business problems. Great Leading is about banishing mediocrity in favor of excellence. In everything.

I’d love to have you weigh in either there or here if you would. Third Thoughts, Fourth Thoughts, Fifth Thoughts …. yours.

Great, Great, and more Great:

Aloha; the Intent of Great Managers.

The 10 Beliefs of Great Managers.

Asking Great Questions: Art or Skill?

When Does Great Service Happen?


  1. says

    Rosa, one of the key implications of Collins Level 5 managers is that it is not an overnight thing. “builds enduring greatness” is something that takes place gradually, is re-inforced at each opportunity. Patience is required. Persistence is required. But with the patience and persistence, success will help to re-inforce the success.

  2. says

    Great point Steve! Ho‘omau: the value of persistence and perseverance, determination and resilience —our value of the month this past January:
    “Anything worth having is worth working for. Persistence is often the defining quality between those who fail and those who succeed.”—from MWA, page 55
    There is this sweet spot to be found between patience and impatience, when we can replace our impatience with a more deliberate, tenacious and focused resolve.

  3. says

    I have to wonder Rosa. This looks like a hierarchy to me and as you go up the ladder there is less and less practical accountbility. In other words you can’t measure whether or not the upper levels are going in the right direction.
    Look at the top level “the Executive who builds enduring greatness.” Where’s the bar, what’s the measure and how do you tell year one or two that the decisions are leading the organization to “enduring greatness.” Collins said once that he couldn’t tell if any current CEO was a level five. My question is: If you can only recognize it in hindsight, what good is the distinction?
    Elliot Jaques is another author you might look to. I love his distinction “a manager must be able to add value to the work of immediate subordinates.” I think that can be made very specific and measurable.

  4. says

    I guess it does appear to be a hierarchy Laurence; in the brevity of my posting I didn’t make it clear that it’s supposed to be a progression, and that as one becomes a Level 5 leader their development has come as the result of their effectiveness in levels 1 to 4, including their aptitude for making those wise directional decisions necessary. “Fully developed Level 5 leaders embody all five layers” and according to the Collins’ research these outstanding leaders built “enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.”
    Your point is well taken though; there must be accountability which is both practical and measurable, — one can be a humble leader while having strong resolve with the wrong decision!
    I must say I love the Elliott Jacques value-added distinction you offer too. We must learn to better recognize nascent leadership capability so we can harness it and put it to better work for us now. And the ones who we normally depend on to help us find those emerging leaders? Those “competent” managers!

  5. says

    I really like these five questions. They have gotten me thinking about what leadership might look like in our “virtual” community. I would like to take a stab at the fifth question because I think we are just now beginning to see some leaders emerge within the blogosphere. I think “Great Leading” in this arena will entail:
    Ӣ A strong voice.
    A person must be able to articulate clearly and concisely many of the practices and principles that contribute to the success of one’s readers. You can begin to see various bloggers emerge from the crowd because they have developed a unique voice that is consistent and recognizable (for example, I can tell a post from you, Rosa Say without even seeing your name because I recognize your style).
    Ӣ Connecting people.
    The writing of blogs has led to the creation of blogging networks. This blog has created the Ho’ ohana Community. There are numerous other communities that are popping up (ie, 9 rules). A blogger begins to lead when he or she can connect other bloggers together and point them in a distinct and clear direction.
    Ӣ Innovate with the technology.
    I love this part of blogging. The internet is growing and so are the various tools that people have access to that can enhance the blogging experience. Look at what Seth Godin and friends have created with Squidoo. Look at how many fun little interactive tools people have on their sidebars. A blogger who leads will be able to manipulate these types of tools to enhance the experience of the reader and add value to the blogging experience.
    Ӣ Produce outside of the blogosphere.
    I think that this is a must. Perhaps it even precludes success within the blogosphere. The formula at this point seems to be that one produces a book or some type of resource outside of the internet and then turns to the internet/blog to promote and build momentum. For instance, the authors of Freakonomics write a wonderful book, then create a blog to carry on a relationship with their readers. One thing that we may begin to see more of is a reversal of that trend. A leader may be able to create from within the blogosphere, which in turn, will result in being able to produce more outside of it. The key here is that a person is able to impact a variety of markets and mediums.
    Ӣ Meet a felt need.
    This is the case in most situations that demand leadership. There is always something at stake, some cry for help, some need that needs to be met. Someone recognizes that need and rises up with resource, direction, and the ability to rally people together to meet the need (look at all the life hack, organization, GTD type sites that are out there). Those who lead will be the ones who recognize the greatest felt needs within those who are seeking help on the internet…and create resource (or direct others) to meet that need.
    Ӣ Help to create the Web 2.0 experience.
    The movement toward Web 2.0 (which is a nebulous concept that seems limited only by the imagination of web users) has potential to bring people to the forefront based on the value of their ideas. The leader will be the one who either puts forth the best ideas or finds ways for people to bring their ideas to light and helps make it happen. The leader is the broker in the new commodity of ideas.
    Just some of my own thoughts on the subject. What do you think?

  6. says

    What do I think? I think wow. I am humbled and grateful for the time you took with this response Tim, and I would like to respect that by taking a bit more time to write an answer for you. Actually, two actions as answers:
    I would like to respond here for the Ho‘ohana Community in a fresh post, and I would also like to copy your answer for a post on the blog Synergy where my questions originated to see what responses may come up there when people think of their own virtual communities separate from this one.
    Your reply deserves much more attention than it potentially can get sitting here in my comments unseen by those who don’t click through their aggregators.
    Much mahalo Tim,

  7. says

    Leading In The Blogosphere

    Rosa posted a thought-provoking post on what makes Great Leaders based on her re-reading of Jim Collins book, Good to Great. She posed some great questions to consider…and consider them I did. I took some time to respond to her