5 Dimensions to Meta-Leadership

(Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft. However, the parts of the HBR article I enjoyed and want to file for my own future reference is only the leadership lessons. I have not worked for Mr. Sinofsky before nor do I know him in any capacity other than his position as an executive in Microsoft)

I really enjoyed this article by Eric McNulty via the Harvard Business Review, especially on the insights to what makes great leadership.

The article kicks off with a great definition of leadership they use at the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative. I love this, it’s the simplest and most true way to describe a leader: people follow you. It’s a great definition that “intentionally omits any reference to rank or role” and defines leadership as behavior-based. “Leader” is not a title you are handed just because you sit in a certain spot in a hierarchy; you have to earn it from those you aspire to have follow you.

McNulty then goes on to describe 5 dimensions of a framework he calls Meta-leadership.

  1. The first dimension of meta-leadership is the person of the leader. It comprises their competence and experience and, more important, their self-awareness and emotional intelligence.
  2. The second dimension is the situation, the context in which someone leads.
  3. The third dimension of meta-leadership is leading down to one’s organizational base.
  4. The fourth dimension is leading up to one’s boss. A leader must understand and deliver on his boss’ priorities while also helping the boss better understand opportunities and threats. In a complex, global corporation the CEO must have an effective senior team that knows when — and how — to surface conflict as well as how to come together to execute a strategy.
  5. The fifth dimension of meta-leadership is leading across to people over whom you have no authority but who are critical to your success. This is the ability to create unity of effort among one’s peers, suppliers, distributors, and others in the value chain. Success is rarely achieved alone. Leaders know that they need others. Sometimes you require their active support; other times it is simply their enthusiasm that benefits you.

And a great kicker of an ending too: “Executives come and go. Leaders make a lasting, positive impact on people. It is time to stop calling those who manage or who have climbed to the upper reaches of the corporate world “leaders” — until they have demonstrated actual leadership. By articulating clear standards and expectations for the many dimensions of leadership, we can begin to cultivate the true leaders we need and desire.”

Read the full article here.

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