12 Feb Fearless Leadership: Integration Model
While it is critical that Fearless Leadership begin with the most senior leaders who can model the practices and lead the way, the principles, behaviors and frameworks for thinking about leadership, strategy and culture work best when they are embraced by everyone in an organization. Fearless Leadership needs to be implemented in all layers of the organization, starting with the most senior leaders, and cascading down and across all other employees.
When senior leadership embraces Fearless Leadership, they set the example and demonstrate that this work is important enough for senior leadership, and therefore, important enough for everyone else in the organization. Senior leaders learn or refresh themselves on the core concepts and vocabulary and can be capable coaches for their direct reports or anyone else in the organization. Since they have developed these skills, attitudes and behaviors themselves, senior leaders can reinforce core concepts, add texture from their own experience, and ask clear questions about how these tools are being used by their direct reports and others in the organization. If senior leaders refer to a concept for managing conflict, other leaders will want to know what that is and how to use it. Culture and leadership concepts are contagious – but generally, from the top down.
Once senior leaders are deep in the program and beginning to implement these concepts in vocabulary, stories and actions, Fearless Leadership can be rolled out to the next tier or two of management. We have seen this begin to create organizational momentum when operating unit leaders begin to make shifts in their leadership and expectations. Middle management is often called the “frozen layer” in many organizations, and getting these leaders, down to the first-line manager, engaged in leadership, strategy and culture will define whether or not Fearless Leadership is ultimately incorporated into the culture, or DNA, of your organization. Most of your employees report to one of these leaders, and their experience of leadership and your corporate culture is most directly driven by how they experience the leadership skills of their direct supervisor. People leave or stay due to their relationship with their manager, not because of the company overall. By giving these middle layers of management the tools to lead more effectively, and to hold them accountable for doing so, you are improving the leadership capabilities of everyone they touch, and increasing the engagement and commitment of the entire organization.
We invest more in teaching the coaching model for managers at this level than at any other. Why? These skills help them inspire others to lead, problem-solve and think for themselves and prepare individual contributors to lead as well. With a strong example of leadership and coaching from this layer, the capacity, engagement, and performance of all employees increases. This level of management can have a profound and lasting effect on an organization’s success.
Finally, we believe that the key concepts of Fearless Leadership are valuable at every level of the organization, and that the true power of the leader-leader model resides in leveraging the talents, drive and potential of every employee. When individual contributors embrace these principles to create significant change at the group, project team or individual level, with the support of their management, positive change accelerates. it is possible to pilot this one function or team at a time; to target a specific challenge or opportunity; or through whole-company programs ranging from regular lunch and learn opportunities, online learning, annual all-hands retreats or select “Leadership Institute” programs for nominated employees.
When implemented, Fearless Leadership creates powerful results and develops relevant and practical leadership skills that drive business results and make core leadership concepts a permanent part of your culture. When Fearless Leadership permeates the entire organization, it becomes a source of ongoing competitive advantage.
Wouldn’t you like to build Fearless Leadership in your team?