Do you define your Leadership Greatness?

~ Originally published on Say “Alaka‘i”
June 2009 ~
Can you define your Leadership Greatness?


One of the things I enjoy creating are web-based learning environments designed for Managing with Aloha. They are usually set up for the team coaching I do around ‘wow projects,’ and so I will often ask my executive coaching clients to proofread them for me; we might also use their staff as our project trial-runners —tapping into their ‘real-time work laboratory’ helps me, and they see it as a free fringe benefit of additional staff training added onto their existing coaching programs.

I asked an exec what he thought of a recent trial I’d written; it is designed to amp-up the energy for teams which have worked together over long periods of time only to fall into auto-pilot habits that now keep them a bit too comfortable (translation of “comfortable:” complacent and settling for the status quo versus edgy and creative). His first response was, “I thought it was pretty good.”

I responded, “Okay, I’ll work on it a bit more: How do you think I need to improve it? Which parts felt lukewarm, or stalled for you? Is anything too boring or fundamentally basic?”

“But Rosa, I said it was good; why can’t we move ahead to the trial, and then work on improving it within the project laboratory?” (He’d done this with me before.)

“Because you said it was ‘pretty good,’ and pretty good isn’t good enough, even as a first-read gut feeling. I want you to think its “Great!” before we waste anyone’s time on it. Then we’ll go from ‘great’ to “Even greater!” within the labs. So where should I start with improving it?”

If you want to be an Alaka‘i leader instead of a mediocre, run-of-the-mill leader, doing a good job isn’t good enough: Leadership is about GREAT and only about great. Are you constantly training yourself on identifying fiery-hot great versus lukewarm good?

Kamehameha the Great

Leaders set a Great example —Constantly

Pure and simple, if you settle for good enough in your organization, so will everyone else.

If you stubbornly insist on great and only great, so will everyone else.

Which would you prefer?

Alaka‘i leaders ramp up expectations constantly, and they also do so with a healthy respect for the efforts of everyone in the organization: No one wants to waste a precious minute of their time on mediocre, lukewarm work, and you don’t want them to.

Remember: “Leadership is the workplace discipline of creating energy connected to a meaningful vision.”

What’s Great, and what’s not?

To be an Alaka‘i leader, author your definition of what you consider great to be. Put it into words which will create a vocabulary and mantra. Simply finish this sentence in the most tangible way you can: “The work we do at (your company name) is GREAT when it______________.”

  • What does it look like, sound like, feel like? (Energy!)
  • What does it cause people to do when they react to it? (Energy!!)
  • How does it get people talking? (Energy!!!)

Second, help each team within your organization break that down even further. Coach them to complete the same sentence, but in a more specific way that connects to the work they deliver to every other team within your company: In other words, how do they create cause and effect, where odds are that the only possible outcome for another team working to enhance their GREAT deliverable, is EVEN GREATER?

In your coaching, don’t be shy about responding, “That’s good, now what would be great?” Ask good questions. Get ‘good’ to be about progress versus the status quo; allow ‘good’ to be about those baby steps which are movement, and which grease those engines of sequential innovation, however insist on GREAT being a knock-your-socks-off deliverable that is somehow unique and a star in itself.

Get sequential GOOD to trigger a consequential GREAT.

Coming up on Thursday:

We’ll talk about GEMO and the Alaka‘i management consideration to this leadership expectation. GEMO stands for “Good Enough, Move On” and is that qualifier to achieving progression versus being stubborn about excessive expectations.

I’ve delayed it purposely: Between today and Thursday, work on finishing that sentence above and defining your leadership greatness, for having those specifics in front of you (and in writing!) will help you.

Let’s talk story.
Any thoughts to share?

Photo credit: Kamehameha the Great by Rosa Say.

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