integrated leadership
August 3, 2016

Can your coach help you with an integrated leadership model?

By Paul Laughlin

When they come around, the Olympics are certainly absorbing. For weeks our screens are filled with stories of personal achievement & records broken. But as everyone knows, a lot of training & coaching goes into preparing for what may just be one event.

Mentoring business leaders also requires a lot of investment to see desired changes, but more integrated leadership can help. Before explaining what I mean by the term ‘integrated leadership’, let me mention our theme for the month.

Regular readers will know we have this year had monthly themes of content, to help us cover the breadth of customer insight leader interests. Our theme this month is coaching & mentoring. How you can you achieve peak performance as a leader & sustain it?

Coaching Models

When mentoring leaders, including customer insight leaders, the main point is not models or theories. In fact, I find most of the time the most powerful thing I can do is to really listen. Valuing the time busy leaders have to reflect & think, is often the most powerful enabler of their development.

But, on top of that, two other activities have proven useful. The first is providing an accountability structure (something I may come back to in another post) & the second is the use of a relevant coaching model.

Now, coaching models are not mathematical & indeed many are really just a set of prescribed questions. But, the best are grounded in both psychological theory & experience of approaches that can help clients become more self-aware or feel empowered to make the changes they need. Most of these models can also be used by leaders themselves, as part of exploring their development or different leadership coaches.

Like most coaches, I find that a handful of models are used far more than others. However, it is useful to have a wider repertoire to call upon. That helps in selecting a model that fits where a particular client is at, or what our conversation has raised as aspects to consider. So, I thought it might be helpful, this month to share some of the leadership models that can help leaders see their role & personal development differently.

The Integrated Leadership Model

This model was developed by Doug Strycharczyk, Prof. Peter Clough & Dr Nollaig Heffernan. It is a ‘macro model’, in that it helps coaches & leaders to take a high-level view. To look at a leader’s performance from a ‘big picture’ view. As such it can combine well with then using other models or approaches to drill-down into a ‘micro view’, to overcome issues or develop capability.

The theory on which this model is based, recognises that the study of leadership & coaching has consistently recognised 6 dimensions or elements of leadership. These have held true globally & can be considered as 6 different perspectives from which to assess a leader’s personal style.

The 6 ’specific elements’ are:

  • Task-orientation versus Person-orientation
  • Flexible approach versus Dogmatic approach
  • De-Centralised (empowerment) versus Centralised control
  • Reward motivation versus Punishment motivation
  • ‘The means’ priority versus ’The end (goal)’ priority
  • Structured versus Organic

Where would you sit on those dimensions/scales?

30 questions covering 3 perspectives

The meat of this model is a set of questions to draw out capability/bias against each of those 6 scales. In chapter 3 of the book “Leadership Coaching”, edited by Jonathan Passmore, the three authors of this model share 30 questions to assess any leader.

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What I find particularly powerful about their approach to these questions, is that they consider the leader within their context. That is, there are 10 questions about the leader’s personal determination to achieve high performance, then 10 on engagement with other individuals, then 10 on engaging with the wider organisation.

As the old saying goes, ’no man (or woman) is an island’. Most of the leaders I have met over the years, who struggle to fit into an organisation or drive forward the change they see is needed, have a clash of styles. That is they struggle with a different leadership approach than their peers, or a different mindset than the organisational culture.

For that reason, I’ve developed a self assessment tool to use with clients, aligned to those 6 dimensions & 30 questions. It helps leaders understand their own integrated leadership style.

The benefit of self-assessment

What about you? Do know if you’re a task-orientated leader or a people person? Do you tend to motivate your team by rewards or punishment?

What about your peers, the other leaders you need to collaborate with to achieve action on the back of insight? Do you recognise any differences in their leadership style that may make it harder for you to influence them? Do some favour de-centralised solutions, whereas you want to centralise? Can others appear quite dogmatic, when you think a more flexible approach is needed?

Have you considered how well you & what you want to achieve fit with the organisation where you work? Do you care more about the means of achieving goals than the goals themselves? Is the company similarly minded? How structured or hierarchical is your business? Are you someone who flourishes in a more organic set-up?

Take some time to reflect now

There isn’t time to explore all those questions here. But, as well as recommending this model, I’d suggest you do take some time out for self-reflection & self-assessment. If you are willing, a 360-degree feedback on some of these questions can also be helpful. Perhaps your team see your leadership style differently to you or your boss?

Enjoy future sporting moments & whilst you admire the athletes, remember their coaches will have taken an integrated (holistic) view of their performance.