Friday, March 9, 2012

About Frameworks

I've been exposed to a number of leadership frameworks over the years.  The first in my development was the US Army's Be-Know-Do leadership framework.  The "Be" part has to do with values.  The principle being that one has to lead from a foundation of character.  The Army has seven core values: Loyalty, Selfless Service, Duty, Honor, Integrity, Respect and Personal Courage.  The "Know" component includes technical, tactical, and interpersonal knowledge.  People respect and follow those they believe are proficient in their role.  The "Do" part of the framework has to do with behaviors...those things leaders do to provide purpose, direction and motivation.  Kouzes and Posner had done extensive research and have what they call The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership.
Companies like Shell have their own leadership competence framework.  They have nine leadership competences grouped in areas of Business Leadership, Personal Leadership and Relational Leadership.  Another company I recently worked with also had nine leadership competences grouped under the headings of People, Direction and Results.  So how does one or an organization make sense of all that is out there?  My own view is that these frameworks are all pretty good.  They are useful in that they GIVE YOU  A VEHICLE TO DELIBERATELY AND CONSISTENTLY BUILD LEADERSHIP CAPABILITY OVER TIME.  I think that for a global company it is important to do a couple of things.  First, pick ONE of the existing ones or agree ONE in your company.   The legacy of most companies probably means there are multiple ones in different countries or in different business segments.  Do not underestimate the challenge of getting a country or business unit to give up their framework in favor of a common global one.  My experience is most people are for a global common framework,.... so long as it's their own.    The second point would be to assess leaders in both performance appraisals and leader development frameworks against the chosen framework.  The third point would be to stick with it over time.  Frequent changes to the framework, especially during leadership transitions, erode confidence in the system.  This doesn't mean you don't strive for continuous improvement and tweaks to the framework but the foundations must be consistent.

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