Phases of Leadership

A Normal Distribution Curve applied to the managerial and leadership functions have some interesting interpretations. While I was in a one-on-one executive coaching, I felt it would be a good idea to use the bell curve to distinguish leadership styles.

The managerial style around the mean is primarily a survival and sustenance strategy. If these individuals were to be promoted to leadership positions, it would certainly create growth issues for organizations. It is interesting that I saw organizations which practice promotions based on tenure ship tend to have these folks in leadership positions. At best these people can manage routine aspects of projects.

The members who are standard deviation plus one to plus two are able managers who are above average and do have competencies which are of a managerial nature. These people make great coaches to the folks who manage routine work. They tend to be emotionally competent and engage people effectively.

Beyond standard deviation two, we actually have people who emerge as great leaders. These are the people who are creative and strategic in their approach. Though they tend to be fewer in the organization, they are your essential minority. It is important to have them as a part of your talent and succession pipeline and must be positively nurtured.

These are the self-actualized individuals who are rare to find and need to be developed. The noise in the teams and performance issues set in when self-actualized individuals start reporting to managers who more or less are suitable for routine work. Suddenly you start experiencing motivation and performance issues.

It is thus a good idea to calibrate teams and run performance appraisals around the bell curve. The team configuration and job roles must be determined using the principles of Normal Distribution Curve. My observations for the best fit are as under:BellCurve

1. σ-2 and σ-3: Must be weeded out. They create a huge performance issue.

2. σ-1 and σ+1: Ideal for subroutine and routine work respectively. Must be used as followers in a team. These are mostly used as pure implementers.

3. σ+2: Can be empowered for superior work and act as good managers and coaches. At an individual level, they tend to be proactive team members. Managers function as coaches.

4. σ+3 and above: Leaders, strategists, and master coaches. They make exceptional leaders and can take teams to great heights. They emerge as role models, great managers and leaders to cherish.

It would be an interesting short exercise that you may undertake to study the distribution of your team across the normal distribution curve and see the implications and evolve a remedy in real time.

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