We’ve just celebrated the fifth anniversary of this blog. My goal has been to host an advice column for you, the well-intentioned manager. Over the past five years we’ve looked at over 200 different questions from people working to lead at a higher level.
As a coach for the past 30 years I have seen many methods used to help clients identify what they need to work on to be more effective leaders. I have found that almost all focus areas fit into one of three main categories – deciding who we are as a leader, being a good strategic leader, and being a good operational leader. Most issues leaders face like time management, managing up, dealing with “problem” employees, and decision making can be placed into these three critical areas.
As we move into our sixth year together, I thought it would be a good idea to share the framework that I use to contextualize the questions I get and the advice I give on a regular basis.
Self Concept as a Leader
Each leader has to define for herself who she will be as a leader, and what leadership means to her. Almost every client I have ever worked with talks about character and integrity and the question is always begged: how are character and integrity defined? Each leader is personally stronger when that person understands self and what leadership means within the framework of self. In future columns we will be exploring “Who are you as a leader?” and “Who do you want to be in this situation?”
Strategic Leadership Skills
This includes vision, culture and strategic imperatives. We’ll discuss how leaders can articulate the vision for the organization and paint a clear picture of the future that everyone in the company can visualize and work toward. We’ll also discuss how the strategic leader defines and builds the culture of an organization, and how leaders create a specific yet compatible culture within the larger one. Finally, we’ll look at how a leader ensures that all resources are being deployed to help achieve the strategic imperatives of the organization.
Operational Leadership Skills
Operational Leadership covers management practices that drive policy, procedures, and systems. Leaders at the operational level are responsible for knowing the strategies that are driving operations. We’ll look at how managers set policies, put procedures in place to communicate, make decisions, manage conflict, escalate emergencies, and solve problems. In this section we’ll also look at how leaders help the group state norms and roles and then hold people accountable to the agreements made.
3 Big Buckets—A World of Questions
Almost every work issue that a client brings to a coaching session can be anchored in one of these three areas, and shedding light and achieving clarity can always help. Where do you get stuck? Write to me and perhaps I can help. I look forward to hearing from you!
About the author
Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.
Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!