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Fourfold Leadership Design

Banner: Fourfold Leadership Design.

Image: Strategic HR Review.The Fourfold Leadership Design is a research-based leadership model made up of "Big Four" leadership ways, and 52 associated "super-powers."

This leadership model came about through a global study authored by Dr Bart Tkaczyk, MBA, Fulbright Scholar (UC Berkeley). The research methods used included a leadership literature review, EMBA teaching and fieldwork practice, surveys and interactive interviews. A total of 155 people took part in the first round of the study, which took place from September 2011 to January 2013.

Respondents included specialists, managers and executives based worldwide, and the study encompassed startups, small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Fortune 500 companies and professionals of different nationalities and various industries.

The survey respondents were asked to list the key attributes and competencies of the most "prototypical" leader, and so a databank of leadership qualities was created with over 1,000 descriptions, features and skills. Next, common patterns were identified, refined and categorized computationally – from which the Big Four leadership themes representing most central leadership roles, qualities and skills appeared.

The strengths-based leadership roles

The Big Four leadership ways are:

  1. Thinking Energizer;
  2. People Operator;
  3. Strategic Navigator; and
  4. Innovator-Designer.

Each category has 13 "super-powers," i.e. a set of expert strategies and methods, knowledge skills and talents, character features and traits, attitudes and motives that comprise the profile of a leader and energize him/her to perform effectively and credibly in his/her role, creating leadership advantage. This means there is a strong repertoire of super-powers that each leadership type may employ.

For example, the Thinking Energizer can utilize self-awareness, self-understanding, self-regulation, reflective learning to learn, professional and positive identity, charisma and resiliency. The "People Operator" can bring into service people skills, positive communications skills, empathy and deep human understanding. The "Strategic Navigator" can deploy strategizing, assessing risk, strategic maneuvering, super-flexibility, proactivity, project leadership, being forward-looking and anti-bureaucratic. Lastly, the "Innovator-Designer" can draw on super-creativity, out-imagining, design and lean thinking, visual identifying of enablers, know-how transfer and client experience mapping.

Although it is practical for analytical clarity to talk separately of the Big Four leadership ways, in daily practice leaders regularly apply more than one competency domain at the same time. In actuality, it is rare for a person to be involved in the exercise of only one of their leadership ways. For example, when an executive strategizes, they are typically reflecting on what they exist for, big aspirations, energizing dreams and the firm's larger sense of purpose. Thus, their Thinking Energizer mode is in play. Since strategy-crafting is a highly creative process, visualizing the "sunnier side" of the enterprise's future may be utilized, so engaging their Innovator-Designer operation. Finally, in making the case of the novel grand design for a new, meaningful, renewing and organization-wide future reality, a lot of empathy and positive communication skills will be desired, hence exercising their People Operator way, too.

One tool from the leader's toolbox

Before leaders engage in developing their super-powers, they first need to identify them. From the research, the Fourfold Leadership Design Self-assessment tool was created as a methodical inventory for leaders to identify their leadership way(s) – see Table I.

Managers are requested to quickly circle any group of words (as many as they wish) that sound like descriptions of them. The scores result in a profile of their perceived leadership, highlighting areas of strength and weakness – see Tables II and III. It is accompanied by a mini action plan with four key question areas:

  1. How do you feel about the way you lead? Which aspects of your leadership profile are the most thought-provoking to you? Does anything about your leadership portrait surprise you? What energizes you?

  2. How does the way(s) you lead affect you? How does the way(s) you lead affect your team? How does the way(s) you lead affect your company?
  3. List four baby-steps you could take during your next working week to boost your leadership qualities and super-powers? What about the next three months? Six months? Who will hold you accountable for your actions?
  4. What are some of the things that may be blocking your ways and hindering your progress as a leader? Can you dream up new strategies that might help you overcome these major blocks to your positive leadership presence?

Developing leadership qualities

To develop each of the Big Four leadership ways, specific learning and development (L&D) interventions can be applied. For example, for the Thinking Energizer, you could deliver psychological capital training programs or encourage the practice of continuing professional development plans (PDPs). For the People Operator, a good idea is to provide coaching, positive communication programs, or even acting programs to teach your people how to improvise. For the Strategic Navigator, you could administer leading strategic change programs or even send employees through military-based development programs. Finally, to develop Innovator-Designer skills, you could run a lot more sessions based on design thinking.

To end, to be a great leader today, we do not need to invent any new weapons. The best assets are our unique super-powers, i.e. valuable, rare, inimitable and non-substitutable resources. Yet, to fully employ, and continually develop them, we need to recognize them first and reflect on our performance.

Dr Bart Tkaczyk, MBA | On Twitter: @DrBTkaczykMBA

Icon: Envelope.[email protected]



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About the author

Image: Bart Tkaczyk.Dr Bart Tkaczyk, Fulbright Scholar (University of California at Berkeley) is President and CEO of ENERGIZERS, LLC and creator of FOURFOLD LEADERSHIP DESIGN, a leadership model internationally recognized for efficacy and awarded for research excellence.

Dr. Tkaczyk believes in developing talent in organizations through research-based practice and practice-informed research, in particular, continuing Learning and Development (L&D), positive Organization Development (OD), Design Thinking and Executive Coaching, and has applied these methods and principles with leaders from a wide range of companies, including AstraZeneca, Cisco Systems, Estée Lauder, Fluor, HP, Moody's Analytics, Nycomed, and Oracle.

Read the full biography...

Fourfold Leadership Video

FOURFOLD LEADERSHIP DESIGN, Big 4 Leadership Ways™ model by Dr Bart Tkaczyk.

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