One of the biggest challenges leaders face is determining where to expend their limited time, focus, and energy. All too often, they spend a great deal of that “leadership capital” on people development efforts that yield limited results.
Since time is a limited resource, one key element of improving a leader’s results is to change where they spend their time and how they focus their energy.
My colleague Victor Prince and I have a solution to that problem – the “secret key” for being a more efficient and effective leader. It’s called the Leadership Matrix. It’s the basis for our new book Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results (CLICK HERE to get your copy).
The Leadership Matrix provides leaders a method to get the best out of their teams by better focusing their leadership efforts and tailoring their approach to the unique needs of each individual team member. A simple framework in the form of a matrix that compares leadership inputs (time, energy, and effort) with employee outputs (business results) provides the structure for outlining four common types of employee behaviors that have widely different development needs. Each behavioral “type” comprises a “box” in the matrix.
Exemplars are the stars of your team who produce the best and most results while requiring little direction or supervision from you. Your overarching leadership goal for this box is retention.
“The Rising Star” – The Rising Stars are fast rising talents. They have radically, and noticeably, improved how their jobs are done. Leadership Strategy – “Promote Internally” You acknowledge their reliable performance and reduce the amount of supervision you are providing them.
“The Domain Master” – The Domain Masters are amazing producers who never brag, rarely complain, and never seem to need any assistance or guidance. Leadership Strategy – “Nurture in Place” Your goal is to ensure they feel valued and happy in their current role while also finding new challenges to help them continue to grow.
High Cost Producers carry more than their weight in delivering the team’s results but also incur a lot of costs in doing so. Your overall leadership strategy for this box is reducing friction.
“The Squeaky Wheel” – Squeaky Wheels produce above average results but seem to consume an above average amount of resources to do it. Leadership Strategy – “Wean” – The goal with Squeaky Wheels is to get them to continue to deliver good results while reducing the resources they are consuming to get there.
“The Steamroller” – Steamrollers produce results on par with Exemplars but they seem to make a lot more noise while delivering them. They barrel through any hurdles and step on a lot of toes as they get the job done. Leadership Strategy – “Reduce Friction” – The goal with Steamrollers is to continue to get the great results from them while reducing the toll their actions take on others.
The Passenger fills a space on your organization chart but is not pulling their weight. Your overall leadership goal for this box is to increase the results you get from them.
“The Stowaway” – Stowaways show up to work. That’s about it. Not many people are sure what they do, but they appreciate that they don’t get in their way. Leadership Strategy – “Engage” – Your goal for leading Stowaways is to get more results from them to deliver on the expectations of the role they are occupying.
“The Joyrider” – Joyriders are highly engaged in the job – they enjoy coming to work and they bring a lot of energy to the office. The problem is you don’t see any real results in the main responsibilities they were hired to perform. Leadership Strategy – “Refocus” – The goal with Joyriders is to get them producing the results they were hired to do by keeping them focused on their core duties.
Detractors are not getting their job done and it is quite plain for all to see. Your overall leadership goal for this box is to quickly get them out of this box through rapid improvement, redeployment, or removal.
“The Square Peg” – Square Pegs are the 10 percent of your team that consume 90 percent of your leadership capital. They claim to work hard and long and make sure everyone knows it but don’t get their jobs done despite that. Leadership Strategy – “Fill Skill Gaps” – Your goal is to get this person out of the Square Peg box in the short term, either by having them rapidly improve or by redeploying them to another job better suited to their skill set.
“The Slacker” – The Slackers have all the required skills on paper and they did great in their job interviews for the role. However, since they got their jobs, their talents have not translated into the results you expected. Leadership Strategy – “Unlock Motivation” – These are your potential high risk, high return leadership investments. Your goal is to get the people you hired to perform at the high levels of which they are capable.
The Leadership Matrix structure provides portraits of what each employee behavior type looks like and how they can best be led. By applying this behavior categorization method and implementing the suggested leadership strategies and techniques, leaders will be more effective in how they lead and how they invest their time and energy. Correspondingly, their team members will ultimately be more successful because the leader’s approach is tailored to their individual needs.
For an in-depth look at all these behavioral types and how to lead them effectively, pick up a copy of the book (CLICK HERE to get your copy now) and check out the book’s website. We have a nifty assessment tool there where you can answer a few simple questions about your team members and get clear recommendations on how to lead them more effectively.
In addition to the book, classroom instruction and keynote presentations on the Lead Inside the Box method are available. Please contact us to arrange for this course to be trained at your organization or to have us come deliver a keynote presentation on the topic at your next event.
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