The three-dimensional approach to leadership

From the myriad models of leadership, here’s our own three-dimensional approach. It’s a valuable perspective from which to think about, reflect on, and implement leadership.

You can usefully explore ‘Leadership’ through three aspects: strategy, performance and culture.

In relation to strategy, your role as a leader is about ensuring there are clear answers to questions like:

  • What does this team or organisation exist for? What are we building?
  • What will it have accomplished, what will it look like and what will it be doing in one, three and five years from now? Why?
  • How are we going to get there?

Effective leadership requires that not only do these answers exist but that they have been effectively communicated and understood throughout the organisation. People at every level must have bought into them and every individual must understand how their role contributes to the implementation of the strategy.

Performance relates to the implementation of the strategy. Leadership in this dimension is about optimising the performance of the organisation.

  • Are people performing to the best of their ability?
  • Are systems and processes efficient and effective?
  • Are management structures getting the balance right between control and freedom of action?
  • Above all, is activity being translated into positive results?

Organisational culture can be defined as “the shared body of beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that characterise the working environment”. Leadership here is about actively shaping and managing beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that support the strategic plans. As a starting point, describe the culture that your organisation is committed to, and then develop a real intolerance of anything inconsistent with it.

We are not saying that it is the role of an individual or a group of leaders to do any or all of this. We are saying that they are accountable for it. Strategy can be decided, performance managed, and culture defined in a highly participative way as well as ‘top-down’. The accountability of leaders is to ensure that it is done, and done well, not necessarily to do it personally.

As with any model, the division into neat elements called ‘strategy’, culture’ and ‘performance’ is completely artificial! In the real world they are inseparable. For example, the culture of an organisation will have a substantial influence on its choice of strategy and vice versa; and the way in which performance is managed will in turn shape the culture of the organisation.

At Leaders Lab we’ve developed a unique and powerful process to build leaders using the concepts outlined above; it’s practical, it produces short and long-term results and demonstrates early on whether individuals can rise to the challenge of leading their organisation to a successful future.

Give us a call on 01865 881056 or email us at info@leaderslab.co.uk if you’d like to explore these ideas further.