Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Interesting Finds

"It's about results, not activity." ...I used to think that was a good code to live by but, at some level, it kinda bugged me."It's about results, not activity." This is a phrase I hear quite often -- in fact, it's a favorite mantra of many leaders I admire. I used to think that was a good code to live by but, at some level, it kinda bugged me. Thanks to "Measure of a Leader" by Aubrey C. Daniels and James E. Daniels, I know the truth.

I've been waiting for a long flight so I could read this book, and got my chance last week on a trip to New York last week. According to the foreword, this book is the culmination of about 30 years of learning and experience, and I found it to be an insightful look at leadership techniques and measurement. The philosophy is similar to that of "servant leadership" that is all the rage. Consider one of the major models presented in the book:

"You are a leader only if you have followers. While this seems obvious, its implications are not. It suggests that the focus of any study of leadership should be on the relationship between the leader and the followers, not just on the leader..."

"Our model posits four criteria of the followers' behavior that define leadership:

  1. Followers deliver discretionary behavior directed toward the leaders goals;

  2. Followers make sacrifices for the leader's cause;
  3. Followers tend to reinforce or correct others so that they also conform to the leader's teachings and example;
  4. Followers set guidelines for their own personal behavior based on their perceived estimate of that which the leader would approve or disapprove."

The book goes into a lot of detail about each of these areas, then goes on to provide specific techniques to increase your ability as a leader by setting the right example, evangelizing your vision, creating organizational norms that reinforce the behaviors that drive toward your goals, etc.

By now you may be saying, "Yeah -- whatever. That sounds like about half the management books I've ever read." Well, I'm happy to report there's a lot of new stuff to be found here. For example, there are some excellent techniques to measure and track your leadership effectiveness, and provide a basis for improvement. There's also a rich collection of advice to help creat more meaning and connection in your followers' work.

But what really brings it together are the examples and stories illustrating the principles and techniques. This approach not only makes this book a fun read (it could easily have been as boring as a stock prospectus), it helped me envision how I could personally apply these to my own life.

There is a great discussion about the leader-to-follower impact when you reward for the right kinds of activity, even if they don't yield "results" (though one could argue that organizational and individual learning are a type of result).

Net, net? Leaders get results by inspiring the right kind of activity in their followers. In other words: It's about results and activity.

If you're in a leadership position, and want to improve the state of your art, check this one out.

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