High Impact Leaders are impatient towards achieving the mission. They challenge almost constantly; whilst they themselves provide and expect others to also be generating ideas. They encourage experimentation with a ‘fast to scale or fast to fail’ attitude. These leaders expect and provide frank feedback and debate and constantly demand that new performance heights are achieved and exceeded.
This is the fifth article in my series looking at the characteristics of High Impact Leaders:Leaders that make a difference. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/want-high-impact-leader-heres-what-takes-dr-steve-wyatt
Unlike many leaders for whom, once momentum takes hold, they seek a balance between their time spent maintaining the ‘as is’ and pursuit of validated growth opportunities. High Impact Leaders have a much higher bias to further build momentum and extend the possible. Steve Jobs was famed for relentless pursuit of his ideas, tirelessly driving the efforts of teams of employees. High Impact Leaders are inquisitive of the world around them and expose themselves to multiple streams of input and information, which they constantly sift through for innovative connections. Steve Jobs was always absorbing idea-fragments from everything that was going on around him and that the key to success was to have ‘more dots and better dots’ (to quote a favourite expression of Prof. Hitendra Patel of IXL-Center http://www.ixl-center.com ). Another comment from Jobs is equally telling, “There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple.”
How do these leaders have ‘more dots, better dots’? - They combine the following:
In order to constantly build momentum these leaders need to mobilise multiple stakeholders and to maintain high levels of trust such that collaboration is efficient both across internal teams and with external parties. As a result of the momentum they generate High Impact Leaders create the space for step-up opportunities for talent. As I mentioned in the article on Execution Prowess, (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/high-impact-leaders-execution-prowess-dr-steve-wyatt?trk=pulse_spock-articles)
High Impact Leaders seek out highly talented individuals. These may be mavericks that may not have survived through regular HR and talent management pipelines, they place this prodigious talent to lead the new initiatives that they have sparked (as highlighted by Sydney Finkelstein in his book ‘Superbosses’). To once more quote Richard Branson “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.”
What distinguishes High Impact Leaders is that they are able (as described by Heifetz and Linsky, in their publications on Adaptive Leadership) to combine being ‘on the balcony’ critical for observing what is happening inside and in the external context of the organization, with being ‘on the dance floor’ in the midst of the action. High Impact Leaders do provide oversight to the initiatives that their protégés manage whilst they themselves maintain stakeholder alignment and support and simultaneously move on and spark other new initiatives. High Impact Leaders are able to create the space they need to stay sharp. They themselves place their name key initiatives and the success of their protégés. This takes courage, curiosity and conviction, as well as energy – so it is essential that they are able to tap into the energy source of their ‘Authentic Core’ (see the previous article https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/tap-your-inner-source-energy-guide-empower-yourself-others-wyatt?trk=pulse_spock-articles )
In ‘Seven Transformations of Leadership’, Rooke & Torbet describe an Alchemist as someone who ‘generate social transformations and reinvents organisations in historically significant ways’. This description would certainly fit within the definition of a High Impact Leader, although I believe that High Impact Leaders require the skills of ‘alchemy’ that I have mentioned, plus having an Authentic Core, Execution Prowess and being a Mission-driven Strategist as described in the other articles in this series, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/want-high-impact-leader-heres-what-takes-dr-steve-wyatt?trk=pulse_spock-articles.
Quick Check: Are the leaders of your organization visibly sparking and igniting new initiatives? Are the leaders committing themselves to initiatives that accelerate growth and momentum? Is work fun and exciting? Are you spotting, attracting and empowering prodigious talent?
Snap to Action: Reflect on your team now, who do you think could be a game-changer, irrespective of their ‘rough edges’? Now which crazy, game-changing idea do you have that you could deploy this person to lead? Go and DO IT.
A business consultant and educator; focusing on global and regional firms operating in multiple fast changing contexts. Dr. Steve has consulted with major corporations on strategies and operations globally, Asia, Western Europe and UK. Dr. Steve is also an accomplished executive trainer and educator, with particular depth of experience in business strategy and management practice in Asia.