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Monday, 30 June 2008

Stewart Friedman, founding director of the Wharton School's Leadership Program, says the key to being an effective and satisfied leader is being successful in all aspects of life: work, home, community and self. Here's his guide for becoming a total leader.


Also See:
Why Followers Matter
4 Ways To Better Manage, Motivate The Team


By Ellen Pearlman


Strategic Thinker: Stewart Friedman
Credentials:
Friedman is the founding director of the Wharton School's Leadership Program and its Work/Life Integration Project, and is also the former head of Ford Motor's Leadership Development Center.
Big Idea:
Being an effective and satisfied leader means being successful in all aspects of life: work, home, community and self.
Book:
"Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life" published by Harvard Business Press, June 2008


Who among us would not like to be viewed as a strong leader at work while being able to enjoy satisfaction at home, feel less stressed and healthier, and have time to do rewarding work in our communities? While most of us would welcome such an outcome, few of us feel that achieving it is possible given our fast-paced lives. So what does Stewart Friedman, author, teacher and leadership expert, know about integrating one's life that the rest of us struggle with? After two decades of research and practice, Friedman has developed a philosophy and methodology that has received ample praise from his students and workshop participants.


At the core of his philosophy is the belief that your professional life is enhanced by who you are in all other aspects of your life. However, his method is not about achieving work/life balance. He says, "An image of two scales in balance is the wrong metaphor. First, it suggests that we need equal amounts of competing elements to create a constant equilibrium…Second, it signifies trade-offs: gaining in one area at the expense of another." This, he adds, is a zero-sum game. He prefers a jazz quartet metaphor for the Total Leadership pursuit: "Becoming a total leader is analogous to playing richly textured music with the sounds of life's various instruments. It is not about muting the trumpet so the saxophone can be heard."


Friedman's program emphasizes four-way wins where all constituents in your life, including you, gain. And his method is tailored to individual needs and does not try to shoehorn people into one-size-fits-all methods. His program is not just for executives-he sees leaders at every level in an organization-and not just for your work life-it also needs to be deployed at home and in your community. Leadership, in Friedman's eyes is about the whole person and if you are real (act with authenticity by clarifying what's important), whole (act with integrity by respecting the whole person), and innovative (act with creativity by experimenting with how things get done) you are on the road to becoming a total leader.


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In Total Leadership there are dozens of activities and exercises that you are asked to do in order to discover how to reach your goals and be a better, more fulfilled leader in all aspects of your life. Friedman makes it very clear that in order to succeed with this program you need to get the support of the key stakeholders in your life (including those important people in your work life, family and community). Unless these essential people in your life also benefit from the changes you want to make, you will not be effective.


Among the many exercises that Friedman prescribes are several that seemed particularly key to his methodology (although he points out that the leadership path is a process and each activity in the book should be undertaken). Early on he asks you to write down your leadership vision, which he says should be "a compelling image of an achievable future." This vision should be a stretch, but doable, and should move others to want to be part of it. He then asks you to "take the four-way view" which begins with defining the four key domains of your life: work/career/school, home/family, community/society and self (mind, body, spirit). The next step is to create a "four-way attention chart" which shows you how you currently manage your time and energy in each of these four domains. It helps you understand the connection or gap between what is important in your life and where you are putting your daily attention.


In order to find four-way wins, you need to realize that just focusing on changes at work or at home, won't be sufficient. But by improving performance in each area, you feel better about all aspects of your life, which translates to doing better overall. You can produce "positive spillover," says Friedman, when you feel good about one part of your life, you feel more focused in other aspects.


I also liked his "role-reversal" exercise that gets you to understand the point of view of one of your stakeholders. He suggests recruiting someone to play your role, while you take the role of one of your stakeholders. It might be the person you are dreading talking to most about what you want to change (also known as the "dreaded stakeholder"). He suggests that when the person playing you asks about the issue on your mind, you (playing the role of your dreaded stakeholder) answer "yes." Then he recommends thinking of all the reasons your stakeholder decided to say "yes" instead of the "no" you thought you'd hear. This exercise prepares you for the real moment and changes your expectation of failure to the possibility of success.


Of course, not all of these experiments will work as well as you hoped. Friedman makes it clear that flexibility is required as you work toward your goals. Reflection is an important part of the lessons you are learning, since it's as important to understand why something didn't work so you can make adjustments and truly learn from your experiences. Then you can become a teacher and coach to others who are trying to improve their performance in all aspects of their lives.


Friedman's research has shown that people who go through his program change how they focus their time and energy-less on work and more on other aspects of their life. And this in turn improves satisfaction in all domains. His research reports a 21% increase in work satisfaction, 28% at home, 31% in community activities and 39% in self-fulfillment. Likewise, performance improves too: 9% at work, 15% at home, 12% in community activities and 25% in personal well-being. Now those are numbers worth pursuing.


Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Press. Excerpted from Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life, Copyright (c) 2008 Stewart D. Friedman; All Rights Reserved.


Also of interest:
Book: "Crucibles of Leadership: How to Learn from Experience to Become a Great Leader" by Robert J. Thomas, published by Harvard Business Press, March 2008. What distinguishes great leaders is how they deal with difficult moments.


CIOZone Question: What aspects of your life would you like to spend more time on?





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