Leaders need to know themselves — their focus and their bias. And to be effective they have to transcend these natural tendencies.
That's the word from Gill Corkindale, an executive coach and writer based in London. He says that leaders tend to be either "In Leaders" or "Out Leaders." The former tend to focus on what's happening within their own area of operations. The latter tend to gaze beyond their own area of operations to the behavior of whole organization and what's happening in the external environment.
This bias can be the result of natural personality traits, a byproduct of a particular job description, the organizational culture or a combination of all of the above. For example, a quality control manager is more likely to focus inward while a communications director is more likely to focus on the overall operation and its interaction with the external environment. Such a role bias can be exacerbated by a personality that either focuses or doesn't focus on detail, and by the key metrics employed by the organization.
- In Leaders tend to focus on results and deliverables, coach and support their people, build team spirit, monitor performance and try to surface and address conflict.
- Out Leaders tend to build networks, delegate extensively, engage with peers inside and outside their organizations, manage their images and look after their careers, join committees, and attend and speak at conferences.
Obviously, each perspective has its own strengths and weaknesses. If the "In Leader" doesn't succumb to micromanaging, he or she but can build a very nurturing environment. If the "Out Leader" doesn't lapse into self-centered careerism, he or she can attract greater human and capital resources to address the challenges at hand.
In any event, it can be difficult for people with different biases to respect and trust one another — even though they can each benefit from one another's different focus and skill set.
Leaders "need to balance the time they spend in both the In and Out arenas if they are to be effective," Corkindale insists. "The best approach is to know your default setting and then to make sure that it is not turning into your comfort zone. All of the positive aspects of each point ... can turn into negatives if they are overplayed."
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