As it turns out, Purpose Driven Leadership (PDL©), in its essence, is all about, leaders manifesting their emotional energies in – mindset (faith), heartbeat (love) and environment (hope) portfolio dimensions –- which brings up an interesting insight that, the ease, in which, leaders manage and manifest their “inside-out emotional energy traits” decides the effectiveness of their leadership. Simply put, the efficiency in which leaders manage their emotional energy flow, within these three portfolio dimensions, using PDL©’s five leadership threads (confidence, commitment, context, caliber and call-to-action) is the one that decides the effectiveness of their leadership, more specifically within the context of leading our Portfolio-Thread View (PTV© & EPP©, CPP© , PIP©) driven strategic planning engagements.
PDL - as a healthy chasm between “aspiration driven hopes” and “faith based visions”
Driven to learn more about, how such energy flow, helps certain leaders to be more successful than others (and hence, delivering superior performance and results) - we started our inquisitive journey of understanding the underpinnings of those emotional energy traits – from the standpoint of how those successful leaders, exhibit them in real world situations. For many purpose driven leaders, "being transformational" means, just pursuing opportunities that fit their company's “faith based visions and goals”. While that is the right thing to do, we also feel that there exist a better approach, in which these purpose driven leaders can “stretch” their leadership traits, to supplement their foundational leadership fit – and create a healthy chasm (or healthy stretch) between their aspiration driven hopes and faith based visions – to achieve higher levels of performance, as outlined above.
In other words, as depicted in the sinusoidal construct, that is embedded within the chasm part of the picture, leaders, usually start their leadership journey on a higher ground (or the crest) by exhibiting their faith based vision portfolio traits, however, sooner or later, they invariably, end up going through those tough trough times - and this is where PDL© framework encourages, leaders to elevate their “aspiration driven hope portfolio traits” greater than their “faith based vision portfolio traits”, so that they can pull their organizations quickly out of those trough seasons, and move onto the next crest experience of achieving superior performance - as outlined in the picture on top of the page.
The missing link in achieving superior organizational performance
With that said, we would like to hypothesize that managing the energy flow, efficiently within their leadership portfolios, not only directly impact the effectiveness of their leadership, but also, it impacts the overall organization performance. Rightfully so, we had prescribed PDL©’s 5 leadership threads (Confidence, Commitment, Context, Caliber and Call-to-Action) as an answer, to achieve such superior performance, in our blog, last week – more specifically, we had also stressed the importance of Caliber thread in discerning the differences between performance management and talent management (PT) processes, the missing link in achieving superior organizational performance.
What do we mean by that? Performance management is a point in time assessment of the results against pre-established goals, based on the opinion of one or two managers (which is highly subjective), whereas, talent management is assessing, whether an individual or an organization has the right set of talented people and processes (hiring, training, career plan, succession plan etc) in place, to sustain their business operations, in alignment with their 5-10 year strategic plan – and so, it is important that leaders make this distinction, to help enable organizations, to achieve superior performance.
Root causes inhibiting organizational performance
To properly manage these differences, we suggest organizations, to create a metrics based proactive PT culture, to objectively measure/monitor and manage both performance and talent management (PT) processes, on an ongoing basis. While it is easier said than done, in reality, PT processes, are the most difficult processes to implement, partly because, the causes inhibiting organizational performances, are not just PT related, rather, they are systemic, and hence, we need a systemic mindset in identifying the causes, leave alone fixing them. With that said, the top three systemic causes inhibiting organization performances, in our opinion are -
- The negative energy based stresses that get released within organizations, from over (or under) stretching the leadership traits within the PDL©’s portfolio and threads.
- The environmental factors – competition, insecurity, conflicts, politics, regulation and other unexpected events etc.
- The caliber of people (or the quality of the seed) within the organizations i.e. failing to hire and/or train the right people i.e. not differentiating performance and talent management processes properly.
Leadership as Stretch and Eustress
If we had to further summarize these three causes, the foundational root cause, in our opinion is - the negative stress that is being released because of over/under stretching those leadership traits. Leadership stretch is nothing but, a misfit among the portfolio traits (more specifically the tension among the mind/faith, body/hope, heart/love portfolios) and stress is the negative energy that is being released, because of that misfit e.g. when mind overrides the intentions of heart and body. The good news is that leadership under PDL©, is also equipped to release positive energy based stress (or eustress) to nullify those negative energies, and hence, there exist a tension – and so, we call “purpose driven leadership as stretch and eustress”, very much like how strategy is being characterized as “stretch and leverage” by CK Prahalad and Gary Hamel.
Importance of discerning the differences within PT Management Processes – A Case Study
With that said, for leaders to be successful, we suggest that they are proactive and find less stressful ways of elevating their “aspiration driven hopes” greater than their “faith based visions”, to proactively release their eustresses, so that they can continue to neutralize the ill-effects of their negative energy stresses. One such proactive way, within our PT context here is, to properly discern the differences between performance and talent management processes – thus avoiding the negative energy that is being released into the work place, in the first place. For example, our research shows, that on an average, around 10-25% of highly talented employees are given "less than what they" deserve type reviews every year, as reviews in most companies, are highly subjective, and are usually based on the opinions of one or two “like minded” managers, or the so called clicks. This is where, we suggest organizations, to have a well documented governance process, in place, for the “second or third line senior leaders”, to weigh in, and perform a “deep dive” objective review (with a help of a neutral third party or in some cases even by external firms), and review all of their employee stretch goal results, that might have been achieved during the course of the years.
An example being a case study we did with one of our clients – where, we were asked to give an objective opinion, and to help resolve an unfair treatment experienced by handful of employees in one part of their organization. As we started our review, very soon, we noticed that few talented employees were given poor reviews, by their immediate supervisors (and their peers), in spite of the fact, these employees had exceeded their objectives. In addition, a handful of those talented employees, had also achieved 21+ stretch objectives, over and beyond their assigned objectives.
During our confidential interview process with few stakeholders(both inside and outside the organization who had a closer knowledge of the performance of those employees) , we also uncovered the fact that this handful of talented employees, were very forward looking talented individuals, and so, ended up doing some advanced level of work, that is very relevant for the organization’s double digit growth (over and beyond their assigned objectives) – which got their immediate supervisor(s) and their peer group, threatened, and so, they started suppressing (punishing?) those talented employees, by giving them poor reviews year-after-year. Not only that, they had also worked backwards, and started building their case for their wrong judgments, with solicited corroborations from few powerful, unverifiable/behind the scene, manufactured sources ( planted evidences?), which sounded to us like a deliberate attempt, to defame/diminish the superior performance of those talented employees.
Some More Findings from our Case Study
While we agree that this example, perhaps was an unfortunate, isolated event, and not a norm in most companies, we quickly learned that this example was just the tip of the iceberg, as some of the other findings (as listed below), were all the more alarming. To overcome those findings, we helped our client, to implement a well thought out, performance and talent management (PT) process, along with governance guidelines, so that senior leaders, can proactively pay a closer attention to these discrepancies, especially to those percentages of employees, who were wrongly judged and placed in the 1-5 scale. Some of our observations included, but not limited to are -
- 10-25% of the employees who were given the rating of 1 are deserved to be 4 or 5.
- 10-25% of the employees who were given the rating 2 are deserved to be 5.
- Over 10% of the employees who were given the rating 3 are deserved to be 2.
- Over 10% of the employees who were given the rating 4 are deserved to be 3
- Over 10% of the employees who were given the rating 5 are deserved to be 3 or 2.
What does this observation list tell us? Performance and talent management processes are not only broken within most companies today, but also, these companies, end up nurturing wrong set of people, and hence, resulting in the exodus of talented people, who are critically needed to help them during these tough economic times, in the first place. Not only that – those talented employees, eventually might get hired by their competitors, and so, might cause them, double damage as well – and so, it is in the best interest of the organizations, that they pay a closer attention to this type of PT cover-up challenges, and nip them in the bud, before they spread too much into the larger parts of the organization.
Proactive leadership is nothing but effective energy management!
With that said, if we had to further summarize these PT challenges, it all comes down to the leaders, being proactive, in dealing with those PT based negative energies, that gets released into their organizations, more specifically, by those insecure middle managers, who try to sideline those talented employees, with an end goal of protecting their turfs. The solution, we had suggested to our client was, not only to implement the PT management processes, but also, a senior leaders/HR led, coaching process, to the middle managers, to renew their in-side out energy portfolio sources on a continual basis, and by, meticulously executing their 5 leadership trait threads. In a way, we call this type of proactive leadership coaching, as an aided energy management process. Once senior leaders (including the HR leaders), learnt to master such proactive energy management coaching process with a help of PDL©’s five threads, we started seeing some tangible changes happening, and today, our client is well positioned to continue to raise their “aspirational hopes” greater than their “faith based visions”, thus achieving superior levels of performance.
Creating a healthy chasm (or stretch) between “aspiration driven hopes” and “faith based visions” – is what helps leaders to exhibit their positive energy driven transformational leadership traits, in an exemplary way, further enabling them to achieve superior performance. Simply put, for purpose driven leaders to be transformational, they must elevate their aspiration driven hopes greater than their faith based visions. We call it as leadership as stretch or leadership intent. For this type of leadership intent to come to life, we suggest leaders, to master this energy management process, with PDL©’s five leadership threads, so that, they can continue to raise their aspiration driven hopes, greater than, their faith based visions, thus achieving much higher levels of performance.