OCTOBER 22, 2012 4:23PM

Who's a Better Leader?

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Ever find yourself zoning out when somebody says “leadership?”

Cliché train is a coming!  Don’t fall asleep! Leadership can be spun so many ways that the spin can end up to mean well. . .nothing.

 

But as you either do or don’t watch the final debate, the two candidates sparring to be President of Ohio or win over that one allegedly undecided voter, is there a more important question than, “Who’s a better leader?”

 

There are of course dozens, if not hundreds of “leadership models,” frameworks that give you the language to answer “Why is that person a better leader?” Language that goes a step beyond, “Cause I said so.” Or “cause I just feel it. Isn’t that enough?”

 

The Gallup Organization offers a data backed model in “Strengths Based Leadership” by New York Times best selling author Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. The book pictures leadership in terms of:

 

Executing: People who get stuff done.

 

Influencing: Folks who look outside the organization or the base and draw others in. people who believe that real power doesn’t come from raw power, real power comes from persuasion.

 

Relationship Building: This leader can turn a team or a state or a country into more than the sum of its parts.

 

Strategic Thinking: These leaders can paint a picture of what could be. These people analyze. They think differently.

 

Every leader has a combination of talents across all four domains. None of them better or worse than others. All of the talents are just different.

 

And the chances are that each candidate will be dominant in one of the four areas.

 

None of the talents have to do with issues like, “Where I went to school? What was my last job? What experience do I have? Or what do I think about abortion?”

 

The talents are how the person is hard wired. They stuff you are born just knowing. There is no value of one talent over another.

 

Gallup gives a name to each of the talents in the book and offers an on-line assessment that enables an individual to find out the language for their own leadership talents.

 

The language gives you a way to get beyond, “He’s a good leader cause I said so.”

 

Now, how do you figure out a person’s leadership talents?

 

Chances are that neither candidates PR machines will be releasing the results of their leadership assessments anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make your own judgment. This time---with something more than gut instinct.

 

In the list below there is a VERY brief description of each talent.

 

Rate each candidate. If you want, use “yes or no” Or if you took stats along the way, toss in your own one to five scale and do math stuff.

When you’re done, you’ll have language for why your leader is the one you choose.

 

And with that language? Who knows. You might even change your mind. . .

 

Or not.

 

Worst case? You’ll have another way to say why that gut instinct of yours never fails.

 

Executing Talents

Who is the best candidate at:

-Getting something done.

-Arranging a solution. Leading like an orchestra leader.

-Acting on core values

-Consistent in action

-Thinking through a solution

-Firmly providing a solution

-Zeroing in on providing a solution

-Taking ownership of a solution

-Instinctively knowing how to rebuild

 

Influencing Talents

Who is the best candidate at:

-Getting something started

-Giving orders

-Communicating

-Using competition

-Taking what’s good and making it better

-Authentically showing they are in charge

--Leading by being the center of activity

-Drawing others to them

 

Relationship Building

Who is the best candidate at:

 

-Staying Flexible

-Mentoring a person

-Leading by connecting

-Feeling others pain

-Helping people get along

-Letting everyone take part

-Caring about the individual

-Staying positive

-Excelling at 1:1 relationships

 

Strategic Thinking

Who is the best candidate at:

-Analysis

-Putting things in context

-Future focused

-Turning ideas into action

-Searching for input

-Using ideas

-Learning

-Thinking differently 

 

So, who’s the better leader?

And most important. . . .why?

What talent(s) do they have that we need?

 

 

Author tags:

debates, leadership, gallup, talent

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Comments

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This is not a Romney-favorable paradigm. Cheating?

The only times I gave Mitt a nod at all were the few catagories where there's overlap with a complete authoritarian nozzle.

Obama was the one to whom I had almost no problems awarding the categories, even if Romney sneaked in a mention here and there.
Yes, all that you mentioned AND lots of Binders! R
Stacey--Oh geez no! This was published in 2008

Marilyn---Always the binders!
sadly, the talk is about alphas, when almost all are gammas. a person searching for a leader is a chump searching for a scam, in which his role is victim.

this appears to be all we can hope for from homosap. yet the world is visibly a worse place with each passing generation, and 'follow me!' is very likely to lead to population collapse, perhaps even extinction.

i marvel that people continue to search for a 'kind master' when all masters lead you to war and economic convulsion.
Sorry, I don't agree. With the economy going down the tubes, civil liberties under attack and escalating US involvement in foreign wars, I think I speak for women at least in saying we want to do what the candidates have done/ will do on these important issues.

As far as I'm concerned both Obama and Romney flunk this test. I'm voting for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate.
Sorry, I mistyped. We want to "know" what both candidates will do on these issues.
Al---Thanks for commenting

Stuart--There is no flunking, so there is nothing to agree or disagree with. The model can apply to any candidate and there is no wrong answer.
Those lists provide a fair portrait of who might be a better leader. But in choosing a president I'd say main objectives trump ability to execute and inspiring folks to agree with your aims. So regardless of Romney's skills, and his business and political background suggest he has plenty, his aims disqualify him.
I don't know. I think in the end it always comes down to the two slogans from '64: "in your heart, you know he's right" versus "in your guts, you know he's nuts."
Well we could look at the people who have seen them govern- in Mass. where he won one election how is he doing in this one? In Illinois where the president won several races, how is he doing?
Seer---Shhh! Don't tell!

Abrawang--The main objective, aims, what it is a person wants to do, all of that is included in the language of the fourth domain---Strategic Thinking. Probably the best key word there is "futuristic." I summarized a 270 page book into 600 words here so if its seems like there are gaps, that's my summary---not the model. The neat thing about the model is that it really does cover the whole range of what anybody would want in a leader. And unlike pretty much ALL of our political discourse---it does NOT say "which leader."

AHP---Hah! I remember that!!


Kenneth--Understood. The challenge there is that senator and governor are two different kinds of jobs. So you can get popularity from that, but it would be tough to get leadership data
And the next president of Ohio is...
CM---You and I could share the gig! Columbus is a cool town. I could be "Columbus Guy" in a heartbeat!
Been there twice. Once with my dad for a Kiwanis convention and then with the U. of Wis. band for a Wis-Ohio State football game. Never got to see much of the city. But that's Margaret Feike's stomping grounds. We'd pay hell trying to horn in on her action.
Great analysis. Here's a portion of the post-mortem I posed on the debate:

Even rightwing pundits had to face reality; damning with faint praise, they pronounced Romney succeeded because he looked the part. Given his expensive tailor, he may be suited to the task; but given his grasp of the complexities of foreign policy, he’s just another empty suit from Republican Central Casting – a truth given voice by Ann Coulter, who dismissed him as a loser long ago.
CM--Good point. She's a great writer. Good thing she never reads my stuff cause she could beat the crap out of me if she wanted to!

TC--That suit probably cost what I make in a year these days. And succeeding cause he looks the part--I heard that too. That says it all.
Yeah but Romney will cut taxes and cut taxes and cut taxes. And he'll cut taxes, too, and that will fix everything.
toes..... when inspecting foreign camels.....you are suppose to examine the toes...
oops-- you got tink's comment- fits here just as well.....
needing in a leader evidence of a moral compass, a conscience.

there is no politics of courage among those who call themselves obama progressives and they have "spoiled" this country no matter who wins next month. for four years as travesties have occurred thanks to this administration and the Republican Rat Bastards doing their part, the chances of turning back from fascism have become more and more reduced.

it is phenomenal the colossal degree of "minimization" required to actually vote for Obama after what he has done and is signaling he will do. we are not dealing with pie in the sky promises of a first campaign any more. fool me once, blame me. fool me twice blame me or more like seduce me to discard morality and conscience ...

that kind of collective conversion is truly tragic and frightening to me.

clearly cronyism is wonderful to support denial and minimization, clearly. an antidote to conscience apparently. and messengers for real human decency and justice will be demonized. so it goes.

so many Obama progressives lost among the trees huddling over necessary citizen strategy and rationalizations after letting the forest burn for four years. now they insist, this is all to be done ...

so utterly pathetic even more than tragic.

best, libby
correction ... fool me once blame YOU, fool me twice blame me ...
NC! Yeah, it's tough to find a one sized fits all solution when you look at a model like this.

Aj---That's Ok---Tink and I share EVERYTHING!

Libby--In case you didn't get a chance to read anything other than the title of this piece; its purpose isn't to serve as a springboard to attack a politician's followers. It's purpose is to offer a way to describe a leader in a way that goes beyond the attack language we've all already heard.

So if you want to attack FOLLOWERS of a politician--there are better places to do it than this page. It's off topic and isn't something I'm going to discuss with you or tell you again.
The system is designed as a pyramid with power concentrated in the hands of a few at the top. Whatever level you are on, you are expected to defer to the level above you. When you fail at the level you are on, you are expected to drop and another takes your place. Even on trees, there is a branch or twig or leaf that reaches the absolute top to soak in the most sun. I prefer to branch out laterally where everyone soaks up an equal amount of sun...but unfortunately this entire world has adopted the pyramid models, and continues to be fascinated with that approach. In my view, God the Tyrant continues to laugh at humans until humans learn how to usurp the rules that son of a bitch laid out for everyone. Rejecting alpha males, rejecting pyramid schemes, rejecting nature and natural instincts...rejecting God...and for Christ's sake...rejecting Romney.
Ari--That's a really substantive comment which I think might have been prompted by a piece of the talent story I left out here---but which is implied. And that is that looking at the world through a talent based lens is a VERY radical way of looking at the world. A talent perspective says that EVERYONE has strengths. And that strengths are the point.

The hierarchical view you describe is the exact opposite of that.

You might want to check out the real book--and go beyond my little intro summary here. I suspect you'd find it interesting. Thanks so much for commenting.
The good news about recent leaders is that Mittwit "Mr. 1% Multimillionaire Mormon" will never become the CEO of the USA; he will not be leading us into the same fate as so many companies that were destroyed by Bain Capital, and those workers who lost their jobs still think of Mittens as a terrible leader. It takes a community organizer to become a great leader, and President Obama leads by the example of his grace, dignity, maturity, intelligence, and clam demeanor in spite of the stress and pressure. Executing talents and relationship building are the two areas in which the president has excelled in these past four year.
The good news about recent leaders is that Mittwit "Mr. 1% Multimillionaire Mormon" will never become the CEO of the USA; he will not be leading us into the same fate as so many companies that were destroyed by Bain Capital, and those workers who lost their jobs still think of Mittens as a terrible leader. It takes a community organizer to become a great leader, and President Obama leads by the example of his grace, dignity, maturity, intelligence, and clam demeanor in spite of the stress and pressure. Executing talents and relationship building are the two areas in which the president has excelled in these past four year.
The good news about recent leaders is that Mittwit "Mr. 1% Multimillionaire Mormon" will never become the CEO of the USA; he will not be leading us into the same fate as so many companies that were destroyed by Bain Capital, and those workers who lost their jobs still think of Mittens as a terrible leader. It takes a community organizer to become a great leader, and President Obama leads by the example of his grace, dignity, maturity, intelligence, and clam demeanor in spite of the stress and pressure. Executing talents and relationship building are the two areas in which the president has excelled in these past four year.