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Emotionally-Intelligent Leadership Challenge Number 3

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Challenge #3: it’s easier to focus on visible actions

It may seem easier to focus on visible actions and outcomes than invisible skills and competences, but it leads to a trap of repeating what doesn’t work.

Peoples’ behaviours are what are seen – so we overly focus on them.

Worse still, the prevailing myth is something like “If you want something done in business, measure it.  If you want something done well, monetize it.”

(Quoted from “The Myths of Creativity” by Prof. David Burkus – the subject of our February 2014, Leadership Book Club interview)

When we measure and judge people only by their actions, we miss out the crucial thinking, reflection, learning and creating steps that move people – and organisations – forward.

This also links to short term-ism.

Worst of all, we implement over-complex ‘Leadership Behavioural Frameworks’ – that assume leaders will conform to an extensive set of competences, to a uniformly high standard.  My360plus social feedback tool

One organisation asked me to support their top team in developing to their company-wide competency framework.  172 pages later, I was left wondering how they expected anyone to conform to just one of these complex set of expectations – let alone all of them – to the highest level.

I see the solutions differently –

  • Leaders need take a whole systems overview and look at lifecycles – not short term,  disconnected, solutions.
  • Leaders need to develop ways to apply fresh thinking and ways to include the strengths of the whole team.
  • Those responsible for developing people and organisations need to look at the leadership behaviours relevant to a particular role – not expecting everyone to conform at the top of every behaviour
  • Social feedback – from independent coaches, and from well-informed colleagues and peers – is a better perspective.  Because colleagues are better able (than line managers) to tap into our emotional intent (the invisible elements), not just our visible behaviours.

For an example of how new technologies can provide social feedback, take a look at this 360 tool


Author: Helen Caton Hughes

Leadership and Team Coach based on inspirational and practical tools. Works with leaders around the world; trains coaches to International Coach Federation standards. Passionate about finding best ways for leaders to inspire themselves and get the best from their teams

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