By Wendy Lambourne, director, Legitimate Leadership.
The individual leadership profile, used by Legitimate Leadership, is a compilation of feedback provided by direct reports (subordinates) about a leader/manager. A group profile is the aggregation of a number of individual leadership profiles for a particular entity.
With both individual and group profiles, the first profile done forms a useful baseline measure to compare with any subsequent profiles done.
This case study examines the shift in behaviours between a baseline group profile (done in April 2014) and a follow-up group profile done two years later (in April 2016). With the exception of one individual, the compositions of the two groups were identical.
In this case study, the baseline and the later follow-up profiles were done for senior leaders in a Technology Group (Research and Development facility) in the USA which forms part of a global development function for a transnational company.
As soon as the results of the first, baseline profile have been aggregated into a group profile, this provides information to determine the best Application Modules for maximum change and organisational impact.
And once a later, follow-up profile has been done, this allows the leadership group to gauge the efficacy of the overall Legitimate Leadership process.
The information in any leadership profile describes how direct reports currently perceive their leader in terms of care (the quality of the relationship the leader has with direct reports); means (the degree to which the leader is providing them with an enabling environment in which to contribute); ability (how well the leader is enhancing direct reports’ ability both in terms of “how” and “why”); and accountability (the extent to which the leader is holding people appropriately accountable).
A leadership profile’s 42 questions and responses, divided between the categories of Care, Means, Ability and Accountability, refer to the universal behaviours and qualities which grant a person in authority legitimate power – which make that person a “want-to” as opposed to a “have-to” boss.
In this case study, the initial (April 2014) profile, which was done after the Technology Group’s leadership group had attended the two-day Introduction to the Legitimate Leadership model, revealed the following (see the scores in the “full text” below):
- Despite the high Care score the profile was more reflective of good professional managers than leaders. That is, there were few leaders that people would “walk through fire for’’.
- The two primary areas where there were opportunities for growth were in Means and Ability – rather than in Care and Accountability.
- There were five specific opportunities for honing the leadership of the group:
- Everyone in the Technology Group needed to be more integrated into the business, to be more knowledgeable about the business of the business and their contribution to it.
- Workload was an issue particularly in an environment of increasing demand but limited/no capacity for more people to be employed (this was more of a management than a leadership issue).
- There was considerable need to empower people more and to shift decision-making authority/accountability down the line.
- People were not growing in their current roles, as evidenced in the low scores on “My manager is able to bring out the best in me”, “My manager is an extremely effective coach”, “I am adequately informed on how well I am doing” and “My manager gives me honest feedback on my strengths and weaknesses”.
- Career discussions were either not happening or were seen to be neither motivating nor empowering.
All non-managers (mainly research scientists) were put through a one-day Grow to Care process for individual contributors (non-leaders) which Legitimate Leadership has found to be successful for people ranging from doctorates to school leavers.
Over 18 months the leadership group did a combination of Application Modules and Peer Coaching sessions. In Peer Coaching sessions, participants report back on what they have done, learn and support each other, and ultimately hold each other to account.
The four modules for the leadership group were chosen because of what the baseline measure revealed. They were: Clarifying Contribution, Coaching for Excellence in Ability, Development Discussions which Motivate and Empower, Growth by Handing over Control, and Aligning Leadership Action to Employee Contribution.
In every application module, participants develop a deeper understanding of the issue and gain tools to for use in application. A full list of Legitimate Leadership modules may be found on www.legitimateleadership.com.
The report below shows the change in scores between the baseline group profile and the follow-up group profile; the biggest improvements in scores have been highlighted in green. From experience, any change of 1.0 or more in overall score is significant, so the overall improvement between the two group profiles, from 4.4 to 5.2, was very positive.
The main shifts/gains were in the two categories of focus: Means and Ability.
There were three big gains in terms of the quality of relationships between direct reports and their managers: in the perceived sincerity, reliability, and openness of the managers.
Most gratifying, however, were the strong shifts in the areas of specific focus: enabling ability, spending time, coaching, and empowerment.
It was also noteworthy that scores on all six Themes Across Categories improved (Time and Attention, Communication, Trust, Coaching, Feedback and Fairness).
There were a few individual questions for which the scores were marginally lower in the follow-up group profile, but the reductions were statistically insignificant in most cases.
The area which still needed improvement was Accountability – particularly giving people regular, honest feedback and dealing with poor performance or behaviour.
There was relatively little increase in Care scores, but it had been high in the baseline profile and it just needed to be maintained.
Generally, the gains reflected in the follow-up group profile now need to be sustained.
The question as to whether purely by focusing on leadership, a raising of the bar takes place leading to lower scores in a follow-up profile has no answer – it may do, but it is impossible to say. Once people are exposed to this framework, they then have higher expectations that leaders will lead in a manner which is aligned to it, and they may become more critical of them.
FULL TEXT: THE COMPARATIVE REPORT ON THE TWO GROUP PROFILES (BASELINE AND FOLLOW-UP):
SAMPLE SIZE: 10 leaders
|SCORES FOR:||April 2016||April 2014|
On the scale of 10 to minus 10, a score above five is good, from zero to five is an indication that attention to the relevant aspect is needed and any score below zero is indicative of a serious problem.
Min: – 10
|1.||I trust that when my manager promises to do something for me he/she will do it.||6.9||5.4|
|2.||I believe my manager is sincere in his/ her dealings with me.||7.5||6.6|
|3.||I believe my manager tells me like it is.||6.8||5.8|
|4.||I believe that my manager takes a personal interest in my welfare.||5.9||6.4|
|5.||I can speak to my manager about personal problems and concerns.||6.6||5.8|
|6.||I am involved/ consulted on things that affect me/ my workplace.||5.5||4.9|
|7.||I trust that my manager would keep all confidential information I share with him/ her, to himself/ herself.||7.4||7.6|
|8.||My manager listens openly to my views.||6.9||6.3|
|9.||My manager treats me with respect.||7.6||7.5|
|10.||I respect my manager.||7.8||7.8|
|11.||My manager practices what he/ she preaches.||5.8||5.9|
|CARE: AVERAGE SCORE||6.8||6.4|
Min: – 10
|1.||I am adequately equipped to do my job (tools, supplies, materials, etc.).||4.5||5.1|
|2.||The amount of work I have keeps me challenged but not overwhelmed.||3.1||2.0|
|3.||My manager spends sufficient time with me.||5.2||3.8
|4.||My manager has helped me to understand what results the company needs me to help achieve.||5.3||5.6|
|5.||My manager provides me with the support I need, even if it is difficult to do.||5.4||3.9|
|6.||My manager has helped me to understand what he/she requires me to do and to what standard.||6.1||5.2|
|7.||I am adequately informed on how well I am doing.||5.3||3.1|
|8.||My manager holds regular team communication sessions.||5.1||4.9|
|9.||I am adequately informed on how well my section/department is doing.||5.8||3.4|
|10.||I have sufficient authority to do my job.||6.0||4.1|
|MEANS: AVERAGE SCORE||5.2||4.1|
Min: – 10
|My manager has helped me to understand the company’s goals and strategy for achieving them.||5.2||5.1|
|2.||My manager has helped me to understand the financial results of the company.||4.1||2.9|
|3.||My manager has helped me develop any skills and knowledge I lacked in order to do my current job effectively.||4.6||4.0|
|4.||My manager helps me by showing me what to do when I am struggling.||4.1||3.2|
|5.||I believe that my manager takes my training and development seriously.||6.5||5.4|
|6.||My manager has agreed a training and development plan with me.||5.2||3.6|
|7.||My manager is an extremely effective coach.||4.1||2.2|
|8.||I have grown and developed over the past six months.||4.7||2.2|
|9.||My manager is able to bring out the best in me.||4.5||3.8|
|10.||I have had useful discussions with my manager about my future in the company.||3.9||0.8|
|ABILITY: AVERAGE SCORE||4.7||3.6|
Min: – 10
|My manager regularly gives me honest feedback on my strengths and weaknesses.||2.5||3.7|
|2.||My manager deals with poor performance or behaviour when it occurs.||3.5||3.4|
|3.||My manager takes disciplinary action when it is warranted.||5.4||3.4|
|4.||When my manager disciplines, he/she always exercises discipline fairly.||6.9||3.1|
|5.||My manager genuinely appreciates my efforts and contribution.||6.2||6.0|
|6.||My current level of remuneration positively acknowledges my contribution.||2.4||0.4|
|7.||My manager sets and enforces very high standards for performance.||5.9||5.7|
|8.||When my performance is below standard, my manager takes the time to find out why this is so.||2.3||2.1|
|9.||My manager does not tolerate anything other than the best from me.||3.3||3.1|
|10.||My manager does not display prejudice/ favouritism.||5.9||5.9|
|11.||Those who contribute the most are the most highly rewarded.||2.5||1.1|
|ACCOUNTABILITY: AVERAGE SCORE||4.3||3.4|
There are six themes, each of which cuts across the four categories of Care, Means, Ability and Accountability. The six themes are Time & Attention, Communication, Trust, Coaching, Feedback & Fairness. These cross-category themes enrich the profile. They indicate that Care, Means, Ability and Accountability cannot be seen in isolation of each other but that the Legitimate Leadership Model is an integrated whole. In terms of the Legitimate Leadership Model, in other words, leaders cannot “cherry pick” – “coach” and “care” for example, but not hold people accountable. They need to embrace all aspects of caring for and growing people.
The six themes are also useful when it comes to determining specific areas of focus. Addressing one of the six themes can make a significant difference to a leader’s overall alignment to the Legitimate Leadership criteria.