Watch the Interview
Leadership Skills that Get You Hired and Promoted with Mark S. A. Smith
The term, leadership, is frequently misunderstood, especially in the non-profit sector. What does it mean to be a leader? Why is leadership sought after and valued? What skills does a successful leader possess? What defines success, especially to those who follow the leader?
In this fun, enlightening, interactive, and entertaining conversation, you’ll explore what leadership means and gain new understanding of the mindset, skillset, and toolset required to lead a team that is sustainable and scalable.
- How leadership skills get you promoted, the fastest way to increase your income
- The difference between common leadership styles and why non-profit leadership has unique characteristics
- The role of the organizational leader, what they do that no one else can do in the organization
- How to intentionally assume the role of leader in your organization
- The four directives of a business leader, what they must think about every day or will fail
- Critical mindset attributes of a business leader, how they must think differently than the rest of the organization
When you need pragmatic strategies and tactics to rapidly grow your business, create or survive disruption, and be in position to get the business that looks impossible, engage with Mark S A Smith. He brings new business understanding and leadership insights to your team about how customers, both internal and external, think about value and making decisions, and how to rapidly align with their motivations to gain agreement and achieve new outcomes.
Heading a boutique consulting company since 1990, he’s researched & developed business and leadership models and go-to-market methods to predictably create business success. He routinely leads the Executive Strategy Skills Summit, a multi-day event that helps business leaders master the mindset, skillset, and toolset of a business executive. The result: his clients operate meaningful and successful companies that positively impact their customers and community.
Mark is an electrical engineer, media technologist, computer programmer, hardware salesman, software marketer, business owner, executive coach, author, professional speaker, video producer, podcaster (The Selling Disruption™ Show), blogger, musician, and father of five Millennial children who do not live at home. He’s worked in 54 countries and six continents.
Mark’s authored many books, business case assessment tools, sales playbooks, go-to-market strategy guides, sales channel launch plans, business plan tools, video-based training systems, corporate webinars, and hundreds of articles and blogs. Books include Pivot to Profit from IT Disruption, Guerrilla Negotiating, Guerrilla TeleSelling, & Guerrilla Trade Show Selling. Forthcoming: Selling Disruption & Executive Strategy Skills.
Read the Interview
Hugh Ballou: Welcome to another edition of The Nonprofit Exchange. This is where we have guests who share their expertise, and it’s an exchange of ideas, best practices, stories. Today, we are talking about a topic that is near and dear to our hearts. My guest today is a dear friend who I have not seen in a long time, but we talk occasionally. Mark S. A. Smith, welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange.
Mark: Thank you, Hugh. It’s a delight to be invited back to share some of the things I have learned along the way. You’re right. We don’t see or talk to each other nearly enough, but we can fix that easily.
Hugh: Absolutely. People are going to wonder why you have two initials in the middle of Mark and Smith. There are a lot of Mark Smith’s, huh?
Mark: There are a lot of Mark Smiths. If you google Mark Smith, you will never find me. But if you google “Mark S. A. Smith,” it will pop right up with all the stuff I have written over the past 30 years or so.
Hugh: How many years?
Hugh: Oh my word. I have been doing my work 32, so you are catching up.
Mark: I am catching up. Quickly.
Hugh: Right. Our topic today is leadership skills, specifically leadership skills that will help you advance in your career. We’ll talk more about leadership and some of those dynamics, but first, people want to know who is this Mark S. A. Smith? Tell us a little bit about who you are, your background, and why is it that you’re doing what you’re doing now?
Mark: I like that. I am a business growth strategist. I help executives figure out how to plot the path, how to set the goals, and then create the systems that will allow them to reliably achieve those goals. I have done this as the consultant and coach for 29 years. Along the way, I have written 14 books. A few of those are sitting behind me here. I also have developed a number of classes and seminars, coaching strategies and consulting packages to help people achieve those goals. One of the things that makes me unique in the world of coaching and consulting is I guarantee outcome.
Hugh: You don’t just take the money and too bad you didn’t do your part. That’s a pretty gracious offer. Mark is our guest today. We very commonly invite people who work in the business sector who understand business principles and understand why we need to embed those principles into the tax-exempt business that we run. We are running a business. We have more rules when we have to do it in the context of a nonprofit tax-exempt status. Really, leadership is leadership. Your title today is “Leadership Skills That Will Help You Get a Job.” What is the point of this? What is behind that title?
Mark: Leadership skills that get you hired and promoted. Yes, Hugh, as you like to point out, tax-exempt is merely a tax status, not a business plan. Nonprofit is not a business plan. It’s important for us to understand that running a nonprofit is the same as running any other business. The difference is what your stakeholders expect for you to deliver. In a profit organization, your stakeholders expect you to return some money on their investment. In a nonprofit, your stakeholder expect for you to deliver some different outcome that is equally as measurable for their investment. It just happens to not usually be money. It doesn’t mean that you can’t make so much money it’s embarrassing as a nonprofit. Money is one way we keep score of how we are generating value for our constituents, our donors, for those who keep us alive. In that business environment, the reality is the only way you make real money in a career is by getting promoted. Otherwise, you get one or two or three percent raise per year, which doesn’t do much for you. So if you really want to grow your career, you have to exhibit leadership skills. If you think about this, if you take a look at the world of business and nonprofits, who gets paid the most?
Hugh: People who are successful.
Mark: And where are they in the organization?
Hugh: They’re usually at the top.
Mark: That’s right. The people at the top of the organization get paid the most. That is almost a universal truism. If they are not being paid the most, it’s because somebody decided to do their job for a dollar. They are giving back their entire pay to some other location. That said, the reason why you want to exhibit leadership skills is because when leaders are looking for people to hire, they want people they can promote. Leadership succession is one of the biggest challenges facing all organizations today. I’m sure you run across that on a regular basis.
Hugh: Yes. Can I say yes?
Mark: What that means is that if there is a problem with succession and leadership, they haven’t been hiring for promotability. Then they haven’t put those people on a career track which allows them to grow into their role as a leader. If you can indeed illustrate that you have leadership skills, you are more hirable than those who cannot. The thing to keep in mind is that strategy, which is directing resources, is always more valuable than tactics, which is performing tasks.
Hugh: Make that differentiation again. Strategy-
Mark: Directing resources and tactics are performing tasks.
Hugh: That is a very quantifiable explanation, which I have not heard before. We are in the nonprofit sector. Social entrepreneurs. We have all the benefits and liabilities of the shiny object syndrome and the lack of discipline. We have ideas. Surely it will work. People will help us. They will buy our product or give us money. Then we start implementing all these tactics. As our friend Ed Bogle says, “It’s tactics in the absence of an overall strategy.” Those are some good sound bites. How about repeating those for an old brain like mine?
Mark: I’ll be glad to do that. Strategy, which is directing resources is always more valuable than tactics, which are performing tasks.
Hugh: What SynerVision fits into this mold is it’s the integration of strategy and performance. As you know, I spent a career as a musical conductor. Our strategy is written down on a piece of paper like a strategic plan. It’s a piece of paper with ink on it. What a conductor does is it integrates that piece into performance. What a leader does is it takes that document and integrates it into the team performance. You really have a direction and a road map per se to implement the strategy. There is an integration of those two. We are doing all these tactical things. And maybe we are doing so many that they are getting in each other’s way and cancelling each other out.
Mark: The issue is direction. As a conductor, you provide direction. Hugh, an orchestra conductor can play every instrument in the orchestra, can’t you?
Mark: But not well enough to make a living playing any particular instrument.
Hugh: Typically, a conductor understands how the instruments play, but we don’t play them. We understand how they function, but we don’t tell people how to play them. We tell them the results we want.
Mark: That’s right. That’s exactly right. You as the conductor know the score, and the score is the objective and the strategy of the organization. Your job is to conduct the various musicians to play together to cause the audience to rise to their feet in glorious applause at the end, with their hearts moved and their minds refreshed. Someone has to take on the leadership to do that. The individual scores are the tactics. The score sheet you have in front of you is the strategy. If you want to take a look at a metaphor to pull all of those various things together. That is the difference between directing the orchestra versus performing a particular solo.
Hugh: That’s my analogy. We have the score, which is equal to the strategic plan. Each musician or singer has their own part, which is the action plan for that team member. The conductor sets the pace, the tempo. “Oh, that’s too fast. Slow down. That’s too loud. Back off.” We help people adjust to the whole. We call it building an ensemble. In business, in non-musical terms, it’s the synergy of the common vision, SynerVision.
Mark: Beautiful. Let’s lay down some more of these leadership principles. I like it.
Promotion only comes when you illustrate that you can do the next up-level job. What got you the job won’t get you promoted. You have to illustrate the fact that you can lead your peers if you are going to be promoted. We have that one figured out. That is pretty straightforward. You don’t get promoted because you have seniority; you get promoted because you can lead the team. That is where leadership skills become really important.
Next is you are promoted when you consistently make good decisions. There is no way that a boss will promote somebody that is going to embarrass them or embarrass their boss. A promotion chain goes up the food chain. You have to illustrate good decision-making skills all the way up. The reason why is if your boss promotes you and you embarrass them and their boss, then your boss’s boss is going to say, “You don’t make good decisions; therefore, you’re unpromotable.” There is this whole chain of observing every decision and every behavior that impacts promotability.
Hugh: There is a decision about the previous point, which is leadership. The decision is what do you take off your plate, and how do you lead the team rather than doing it yourself? There are several layers of the decision-making piece because if you are seen as a person who gets more results in a more effective manner, then you are actually worth more.
Mark: That could be the case. Yet a good leader identifies a person’s ability to engineer systems to get things done. There is a strategy that we have to look at when it comes to offloading things off your plate. I have a whole program just on that executive delegation without losing control. You might want to do that sometime. The fundamental principle is you look at the tasks that you are performing as a leader, and you decide is this an unskilled task, a semi-skilled task, a skilled task, or a strategic task?
An unskilled task is one that you can hand to somebody with a checklist, and they will get the job done. That is washing windows, doing dishes, simple task. It’s easy to tell the quality control. A person with low to average IQ can get the job done.
Then you have a semi-skilled task. You need a certain level of skill. Things like building spreadsheets or taking memos or creating a PowerPoint presentation.
There is skilled, and skilled is where somebody has a certificate or they make a career out of it. That would be things such as marketing or sales. You can outsource that frequently for less than you can bring it in-house, unless the flow of demand is high enough to bring it in-house.
There is strategic. You as the leader are responsible for that.
The idea of what you offload is driven by the level of skill that is required. You have zero business doing anything that is unskilled, semi-skilled, or skilled. That needs to be in somebody else’s hands. If you want to promote somebody that has some skills, you have to document their process and create a system that takes their knowledge and turns it into a procedure that can then be handed off to somebody else. That’s what happens when that skilled person gets hit by a bus, decides to retire, gets married, or moves out of town. All those things happen.
Hugh: We always blame the bus, don’t we?
Mark: The bus is an easy one although I don’t know anybody who has been hit by a bus.
Hugh: Those are all the people who wanted your job.
Mark: That’s being thrown under the bus, that’s for sure.
Hugh: We do use the bus analogy a lot. The right seat on the right bus. We get thrown under the bus. I have never thought about some of those things before, why we say them. This is really good stuff. There are lots of dynamics to leadership. Let’s pause here a minute. In your experience, what is the biggest misunderstanding or misinterpretation of what leadership means?
Mark: It’s twofold. One is that there are so many styles of leadership out there that a lot of times people cabbage onto a particular style and declare that’s leadership when it’s not. It’s just a style of leadership. Leadership style is driven by the objectives of the organization. We can talk about some of those elements that set it in just a moment. That’s the first thing I see go wrong. People need to believe you need to be an autocratic leader or a bureaucratic leader or a servant leader or a visionary leader or a transactional leader. The reality is it depends on the objective of the organization. Period.
The second thing is what is the role of a leader? A leader’s role specifically is to efficiently direct the available capital, people, technology, and systems to achieve a desired outcome, and to take responsibility and accountability for those results.
Hugh: Wow. Wish I’d said that.
Mark: You’re welcome to say it any time you like.
Hugh: Mark S. A. Smith is very active on Twitter. You are well-read. You quote lots of books. You read lots of books. You talk about lots of books. You have your own quotes. You have quite a wealth of stuff on your Twitter feed. That is helpful.
I think the fundamental issue is people don’t understand leadership and don’t embrace any style, except the boss. The boss is double S-O-B spelled backwards. It does not work in today’s culture. It worked at one point in history, but not today.
Mark: I’ll debate you on that, Hugh. There are organizations that require a bureaucratic/autocratic leader. They are usually not nonprofits, but they can be. Here is the reason why. If you have a highly regulated industry, bureaucratic leadership enforces the rules at the cost of the human being. There is all stick and no carrot. In that highly regulated industry, that is what is required to maintain the organization. Now, that said, it doesn’t work if the nonprofit is primarily voluntary organization. If you have an at-will relationship, bureaucratic behavior will usually destroy an organization. What I want to point out is that as a leader, there is no wrong style given the context. There is a more effective style, but every organization has to be looked at on their objectives, and how their success is judged. Within that context, we choose a style for the current leadership challenge that we’re facing.
Hugh: And that’s authentic to who we are.
Mark: Indeed. If you’re not an authentic bureaucratic leader, don’t do that.
Hugh: Do not do that. That’s well put. You are checking off a list. Let’s review the headers of those and then let you go uninterrupted to the next one.
Mark: To recap, leaders efficiently direct the available capital, people, technology, and systems to achieve a desired outcome and take responsibility and accountability for those results. That is my first definition of a leader.
I have an alternate definition of a leader that may apply better for our listeners. A leader allows their team to be the best version of themselves as possible in this moment.
Hugh: Wow. That one implies that we get a good team, they know where we’re going, we’ve done the strategy, we’ve provided the resources, and you get out of the way. That word “allow” is revealing.
Mark: That is exactly right. Here is one of my favorites. Innovative leaders create a future that does not yet exist using methods that have not yet been invented, with best practices that have not yet been established.
Hugh: Whoa. Throw out some of these sound bites. These are good. Are these attributed to Mark S. A. Smith?
Mark: These are all Mark S. A. Smith originals.
Hugh: I’m impressed. I knew you were smart.
Mark: You know me. My brain never shuts off around this stuff. This is my passion: to help business leaders figure out how to articulate their visions and their goals and their systems.
Hugh: I see, yes.
Mark: The thing that is important to understand is that a leader does not look at today to judge the future. In fact, you’ll find visionary and innovative leaders completely ignore the current circumstances. Instead, they talk aspirationally about the vision they see being put into play. What that means is they know based on their experience that the answers will show up. The technology will be developed, the team will appear, the money will flood in, if they can articulate their vision of the future in value of those they choose to serve. And then we’ll invent those methods, and we will establish best practices. But we don’t need the messages. We don’t need a how. We don’t need a best practice to drive into the future.
Hugh: Absolutely. We make it work. If you look at the work of Napoleon Hill, when he interviewed those 500 powerful leaders in America, they had a clear vision of the future. Like Thomas Edison, he knew he could invent the light bulb. It took him 10,000 tries. He knew he could do it, but he had yet to work out the methodology. Napoleon Hill’s vision is to define your specific purpose. You’re providing something good to the world. Don’t think of failure as an option. The story you tell is three feet from gold, when the guy sold the gold mine and he was three feet from the motherload. Don’t stop. Don’t quit. You know you will succeed, so continue because you might just be on the brink of success when you say, “Okay, I’m quitting.”
Mark: Or die trying. If you notice behind me is Thomas Edison. He is there in my office. He has been keeping me company in my office for decades. The reason why is because Thomas Edison redefined the notion of failure. He was the person who established an innovation factory. More people, there is not another person on the planet who has their name on more patents than Thomas Edison. Yeah, he wasn’t the guy who did all the work, but he is the one who created all the vision. That is who got credit for it. That is why Thomas is back there. He reframed failure.
Hugh: He has more failures than successes as well.
Mark: Sure. How are we keeping score?
Hugh: We’re keeping score by what works. Inventing the light bulb, he found 9,999 things that didn’t work.
Mark: In that picture, he is hanging onto the one that did.
Hugh: There are light bulbs in his house in Fort Myers he made that are still burning.
Mark: Indeed. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. So crazy.
Let’s talk about the difference between a leader and a manager.
Hugh: Yes, please do.
Mark: A leader sets the standards, and a manager maintains the standards. A leader provides inspiration, which is tapping into a person’s inner goals and bringing them out. Inspiration is always about tapping into that inner person, versus motivation, which is about an external goal.
Hugh: In Covey’s work, he talks about leaders lead people. Managers manage things. You manage money. You manage time. You manage schedules. You lead people. Does that fit into your mold?
Mark: I think that’s true although a lot of organizations look at managers as managing people. There is something in the middle there that makes sense. There are a lot of people out there who don’t want to be led.
Hugh: You’re right. There are, “Just tell me what to do.”
Mark: They want to be directed. While a leader provides inspiration, a manager provides oversight. That is in alignment with what you were just saying. Oversight.
Hugh: You think of the college graduate programs that are called management programs. To me, that is where academia is a disconnect from reality. I think you’re giving more color, more nuance to those areas. Go back to your premise.
Mark: A leader instills confidence, and a manager expects outcome.
Hugh: So a leader, to me, is an influencer. That fits into your paradigm there.
Mark: Absolutely. The influencer is designed to extract the best version of the person as they are right now. That is the premise behind being a leader. A leader is going to direct a person to where they nave never been before and make them feel confident they can get there. Leadership is all about innovation. Always.
Hugh: We live in the future.
Mark: Indeed. Leaders live in the future, which drives a lot of people nuts. You’re not pragmatic; you’re not practical. You’re right. That’s not my role.
Hugh: It’s interesting. I see we have had 4.5 years of interviews with great people with great content. Most of the time, the principles are universal, and we line up, even if not the language, but the philosophy of it. It would occur to me to get in a great argument with a guest, “No, we don’t agree.” But you have points to disagreement. Oftentimes, if we are talking to each other, which is leaders are listeners, an underutilized skill, in that point of conflict, there is a finite point of truth that we are not capturing if we are not looking at it with a different dimension. I appreciate you adding some extra dimensions to the definitions I’ve had. It’s not this or that. It’s a nuance. It’s an area of definition, not a specific definition, is what I’m hearing today.
Mark: It’s yes and. We are all creating different versions of the future which require different methodologies and different approaches. We all lead different characteristics of people, which requires things within context. Going back to your comment about leaders listening, it’s about gaining perspective. Leaders gain perspective because they are leading into the future to serve a group of people in a specific way. They check in on the perspective of the team. Doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to take the advice of the team given the leader is generating the future. The perspective of the team may be more about conservation of the past. There are some leaders who of course conservation of the past is their goal, so they will be driving forward with publishing technologies and preservation of technologies, but the past preservation is their goal. It’s all within context.
Let me give you a couple more. A leader offers different customer expectations. A manager manages customer expectations. The leader’s vision of the future is a marketplace which creates profit. Don’t think that you don’t have competition.
You’re horribly mistaken because your competition is here. As long as you’re offering in terms of the return on the donation, return on time, the outcome that your constituents expect, if you’re not providing more value than other options, they will go to other options with the rare exception that your organization is part of their identity. If you have an identity lock on your constituents, you’re way less likely for them to defect for a value purpose. That is not helping the Catholic Church any right now.
Hugh: Say more about this identity lock. Give me more nuance around that.
Mark: Hugh, are you a sports fan?
Mark: Do you know sports fans?
Mark: Do you know any rabid sports fans?
Hugh: Oh yeah. I used to live in a town with a football team called Hokies.
Mark: The Hokie religious fans, would they ever wear a rival team’s shirt?
Hugh: No way.
Mark: Only if they lost a big bet.
Hugh: Even then, that’s pushing it.
Mark: It’d be a hallmark of embarrassment. A rational, logical human being would root for a sports team that wins more than they lose. But we’re not rational human beings. We root for the sports team that is a part of our identity. That identity is established usually when we were young because we went to the games with our parents or grandparents. Our parents dressed us in the team colors before we could even lose the cradle. That is installed as part of your identity. People refer to sports teams as their team when there is zero ownership. “We won last night!” “We lost last night.” That is identity, and it is so embedded. When you can embed what you do into a person’s identity, you become competition. It will take a massive disappointment or betrayal for them to disconnect their identity from that organization.
Hugh: Translate that into your supporters for your nonprofit organization.
Mark: That becomes easy. That is, make it easy for your supporters to integrate you into their daily lives. That is things like providing a screensaver for their mobile device. My wife is a massive fan of the Vegas Golden Knights. She has on her telephone their logo. When she picks up her phone, she is reminded of her favorite team. Give them articles of clothing to wear. Give them desktop backgrounds. Give them coffee mugs. Give them all kinds of things that will incorporate you and what you’re doing into their life. The more that you can get them to associate with you, the tighter the relationship. That also comes with volunteering. When people volunteer, it becomes part of their lifestyle, and therefore, part of their identity. They will tell their friends, “I can’t Wednesday night because I am fill in the blank.”
Hugh: Wow. I’m thinking of all the really good nuggets that you’ve given so far. We are past halfway through. I’ve already gotten a new definition of leadership, this thing about identity. There are good nuggets here. I am reveling in the sound bites, the embedded pieces of wisdom in this thread.
Your website is BijaCo.com.
Mark: Bija means “seed” in Sanskrit. My belief is that the seeds of greatness are within all of us. We just need to have the food and water for the seeds to emerge into the greatness that we are.
I think for today’s production here, a site that you might find useful, while the Bija site has 150 blog posts and stuff on business acumen, something you might consider is going to OnDemandU.com. It stands for On Demand University. In preparation for today’s conversation, I posted an hour and a half live event that I did for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for their graduate Ph. D students on this topic. I’ve posted it up there along with a handout and the audio track, so you can download and listen to it like an audiobook.
At the top of the page, you will see a button that says, “If you are looking for the leadership course, click here.” When you get to the checkout page, enter into that checkout page “Lead101Free”. That will give you completely free access to that course. You will hear some of the things I’ve said so far, and you will hear a heck of a lot more. When you use that coupon code, you don’t need to enter your credit card. That will give you access to that program. You can see the playback, the handout materials, and the audio track.
Hugh: That is at OnDemandU.com.
Mark, we are dealing with this topic that is commonly expressed and rarely understood, especially with the dynamics you’re sharing today of leadership skills. You mentioned a lot of styles. You didn’t mention transformational leadership.
Mark: Would you like for me to step through the styles I’ve identified?
Hugh: Sure. SynerVision is a champion for transformational because to me, that is the revelation of the conductor transforming the people who are instrumentalists or singers into a choir/orchestra. It’s a fundamental part of transformation. There are styles, so I’d love to hear your take on that.
Mark: Let me preface this conversation with: The style that is required is dependent on the organization’s time horizon. Are they focused on short-term issues or long-term issues? It depends on the organization’s capital priorities. Are we team capital-focused or systems capital-focused? It depends on the organization’s goal focus. Is it a team goal or constituent goal versus an organizational goal? Is it the individual goals we are attempting to manage or the organization’s overall goals? It depends on the organization’s outcome focus. Is the organization about tactical or accomplishing a task, or is it focused on strategic, accomplishing a mission? It depends on the leader’s value. Does it come from coaching or consulting? Coaching is diagnostic, where we bring people to their own conclusions through experienced inquiry, and we install new critical thinking skills. Consulting is prescriptive. It brings expertise, opinions, and solutions to achieve a specific valued outcome. The leader could be more coaching style or consulting style. Then leadership style ultimately ranges from low directive to high directive, where low directive leaders don’t tell people what to do, and high directive leaders tell them exactly what to do.
Let me step through 10 of the styles I’ve identified that range from lowest directive to highest directive.
Hugh: There is probably another dynamic that would occur to me. All of those that you’ve said are correct. Would it also be true where the organization is in its life?
Mark: Yes. Absolutely true. Depends on where they are in the life cycle. Are you launching? Are you growing? Are you optimizing? Are you getting ready to close things down? Yes. That life cycle is going to have different demands.
Hugh: In the case of a nonprofit, I am the founder. When it is gone, there will be a legacy. It is a different leadership style after I’m gone.
Mark: Indeed, it will.
The least directive is servant leadership, otherwise known as supportive. Mother Teresa is a good example of that. It’s a people first mindset. We get results from personally fulfilled teams. It’s culturally respectful and culturally based. It works best for nonprofits that are religious or volunteer organizations.
Hugh: And the leader is in the background.
Mark: The leader is the servant, supporting them. A good example of that is a minister looking after their flock and responding to their individual needs and their needs in general.
Next is laissez-faire, free thinking, hands off. Think absent parent. This person focuses on their own tasks, delegates to everybody else. This is really about directing team members with no supervision. This works well if you have highly experienced teams. Just turn them loose.
Next is the visionary leader, known as the charismatic leader. A good example of that is Steve Jobs. This is somebody who drives inspiration and influence. Works great with a seasoned team. Good in fast-growing, highly innovative scenarios.
Next one is a democratic or participative leader. Great example is Jeff Bezos in the early days of Amazon where he would get everybody’s perspective before making a choice. You get high levels of team satisfaction and preparation. Of course, he has gotten too big for this style to work anymore. This works really well for innovative and creative industries that are growing rapidly.
Hugh: That is a good example of what I was talking about with different stages. There are different styles for different stages of the company.
Mark: Right on. The next is coach. A great example of that is Mary Kay Ash, who ran Mary Kay Cosmetics. This is a person who sets clear goals, provides performance feedback, balances the needs of the organization with the needs of the team members. This works best at at-will organizations that have to perform. This is a strategy that can work well for nonprofits. The only challenge with the coach is it can be extremely time-intensive.
Next is pace-setter. A great example is Jack Welsh, the CEO of GE. It’s about driving fast results. Boom. That’s about setting high standards, demanding accountability. You have to work with highly motivated teams who are not afraid to work hard.
Next style is transformational, structural. This is the one you were looking for. My example of that is Herb Kelleher, who ran Southwest Airlines. Southwest still is the most profitable airline for the longest period of time. The reason why is because he coached from a new playbook. That is how I like to describe transformational. We coach from a new playbook with a focus on objectives. It’s a blend of direction, delegation, and coaching.
Hugh: In my world, it was based on the vision, which he was clear about. It’s about leading by the vision. Transformational leadership, they empower leaders from within.
Mark: He also picked the team that could do that. Kelleher said, “I can teach anyone to fly a 737 in six months. But I can’t teach them the attitude to get out of the cockpit and move the baggage if that’s what it takes to get the plane off the ground.”
Hugh: That’s a great example. I define transformational leadership as a culture of leadership. They are the primary example. They hire for attitude and train for skill.
Mark: Exactly right. Very well said.
Hugh: They have not veered from that since they started.
Mark: And they are the #1 airline out of Vegas.
Hugh: They have not been without profit, even when all the airlines are bleeding. They were making a profit.
Mark: People who fly Southwest are raving fans. I have three more styles for you, and then we will wrap this up.
The next one is transactional. You are getting more and more directive here. Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, is a great example of a transactional leader. Highly structured, performance-focused. He used incentives, which were stock, and punishments, which was a demotion if you didn’t deliver. It’s a classic leadership style for corporations. It does work well for revenue goals, but it does limit innovation, which does describe Microsoft.
The 9th style is autocratic or authoritarian. Think military general. This is a person who is focused on results, efficiency, and control. They give orders and expect them to be followed. This is highly useful if you have an experienced team, or little creativity is needed and you have a critical mission.
Hugh: That’s the list.
Mark: One more would be the bureaucratic leader. Follow the rules and procedures. There is defined penalties for non-compliance and little to no reward for compliance. This is what you need for highly regulated organizations and situations. That is the list.
Hugh: None of those are pure one thing or the other.
Mark: They’re not.
Hugh: Like in music, you don’t play piano, but you play within forte. You play within that realm. It’s interesting that transformational leadership is about the influence of the leader in the culture. It was derived from the military because it’s about a high-performing team. If you think about it, in combat, the general doesn’t tell people what to do. They are already trained. They have the objective, and their tactics are for reaching that objective. It’s interesting that they used the military as the model for that. Certainly the nuances are different. Sometimes, people who are not musical conductors think the conductor is a dictator. I gotta tell you, you have a bunch of union players, and you have a little white stick. You can’t make them do anything, so you can certainly influence them. If the orchestra likes the conductor, they play as the conductor intends. If they don’t, they play exactly as the conductor conducts.
We talked a little bit about yourself. Since I’ve known you, I’ve been amazed at the multiplicity of skills in content. You’re prolific. And you write a lot of stuff. Like our brother Dr. Gruder, everything you write is exceptional. One sign of a good leader is you surround yourself with people who are better than you are. Russell just sent me a text, so he wasn’t on as cohost due to technical difficulties. I got to do the ice cream thing and Haagen-Dazs the whole thing. Like Russell says, if you are the smartest person on your team, run like hell. You are in trouble now.
What aspects of leadership have we not talked about today?
Mark: We’ve actually talked about a lot of aspects. Just because we only had a reasonable amount of time. What I’d like to share with you is what I consider to be the steps to lead to substantial, meaningful results. It’s really simple. You will agree with all of these things, my friend.
1) Find a definable, measurable objective so that you and your team know what success looks like, smells like, feels like, tastes like.
2) Find the resources to accomplish the objective. The human capital, the money capital, the time capital, the acumen capital, the information capital, the access capital. Access to people.
3) Check for motivational alignment. That’s what leaders do really well. Is this a person who knows how to accomplish the task, can accomplish the task, and wants to accomplish the task, and they see it as contributing to their career path? We have to have all four of those alignments if we are going to have success with the team. The place we have team problems is they don’t know how, can’t do it, don’t want to do it, or don’t see the value in doing it. That is the motivational alignment piece.
4) Give them accountability and a deadline. All projects must have a deadline. All tasks must have a deadline.
5) Once you have that set up, then set checkpoints and milestones so you can manage them, and they can manage themselves, and they know how they are doing toward the process.
6) Turn them loose. Get out of their way.
Hugh: Wow. *Sponsor message from EZCard*
Mark, where can people find this great video you’re giving them today?
Mark: OnDemandU.com. Stands for On Demand University. There will be a link at the very top of the page. The main page is right at this moment offering a program on how to market to investors to raise money. But there is a link at the top of the page that says, “If you are looking for the leadership skills, click here.” That will take you to that description page. At the bottom, it will take you to the order page. Toward the bottom of that form, enter the coupon code “Lead101Free.” That is the coupon code that will give you free access. You also have lifetime access. All of the content we have talked about today is in that 90-minute program, including the handouts. I want to gather some information so I can have a conversation with you.
By the way, when you enroll, this gives you access to 20 minutes of conversation with me at no additional charge.
Hugh: Mark, we are at the top of the hour. This has been so helpful. What do you want to leave people with today?
Mark: I think the key thing to remember is simply this: As a leader, you are creating a new vision of the future. If you are willing to take on the uncertainty of heading into the future, where you are not at all knowing how you’re going to accomplish what you have in mind, then you have the capacity to be a leader. If you have to have certainty and comfort, then probably leadership is not a good idea for you.
Hugh: There is plenty of room for followers. Mark, thank you for being here today. Thanks to all you leaders who are making a difference in people’s lives.