What Quintessential Leadership Looks Like: The Big Picture

Posted: November 19, 2015 in Examples and Analyses of Quintessential Leadership
Tags: , , , ,

Stepping back from the puzzle pieces to see the big pictureSometimes it’s helpful to take a step back from something and look at the big picture in broad terms. What quintessential leadership looks like is no different.

This blog looks at specific aspects of quintessential – and unquintessential – leadership in detail more often than not because it’s in the details that determine which type of leader we are and how to move toward quintessential leadership if we are not already on that path.

This post will take the long view and show key aspects of what quintessential leadership looks like in the big scheme of things.

It’s important to remember that this is who quintessential leaders are so you will see these aspects consistently in every venue – personally and professionally – in their lives. This consistency is one of the traits of authenticity that define quintessential leaders. 

Quintessential leaders plan before they do. This planning process is not sloppy or incomplete.

The planning process includes cost/benefit and risk/reward analyses that answer the following questions:

  1. What are we thinking about doing?
  2. Why are we thinking about doing it?
  3. What is the exact scope of what we’re thinking about doing?
  4. What will we need?
  5. How long will it take?
  6. How much will it cost?
  7. Is what we’re thinking about worth doing (will it give more than it takes?)?
  8. Will what we’re thinking about be in sync with our mission statement or will it take us on a different path and possibly lead us in a direction we don’t want to go or which will negatively impact everything else we’re doing?
  9. Do we have the resources to do what we’re thinking about (time, people, money, etc.)? If not, will the total cost of acquiring those resources outweigh the benefit? If the benefit outweighs the cost, will those resources (people in particular) be a temporary investment or a permanent investment?
  10. How will this affect our big picture? 

Quintessential Leaders Build Quality InfrastructuresQuintessential leaders also build quality infrastructures. These infrastructures are visible in everything that quintessential leaders are involved in and are a natural result of the planning phase.

The purpose of infrastructure is to provide a strong, reliable, dependable, productive, and efficient mechanism to achieve goals. Therefore, whether an infrastructure exists and how it’s built is critical to outcomes.

Quintessential leaders know that two basic infrastructures must always be in place – and they work continually on the quality of these – to achieve consistent and successful outcomes.

The first quality infrastructure that quintessential leaders build is resources (people, time, money, etc.).

Notice that people come first on this list. That is intentional. Time and money are much easier to acquire than the right people and the best teams.

This not the current business/organizational model anywhere on the planet today. People are seen as the most expendable resource, while money and time are the most valued resources.

Because of this, quality everywhere has decreased dramatically and dissatisfaction among everyone on the receiving end has increased just as dramatically.

Quintessential leaders know that no amount of money and time can be substituted for a well and carefully-built team of people to ensure the best outcomes.

It is this infrastructure that makes or breaks everything everywhere in life. To build sloppily, carelessly, or poorly here (mostly in favor of more money or fear of being surrounded by people a lot smarter than ourselves) is a recipe for failure.

The failure may not materialize in the short-term, but you can be certain that it will come. The longer it takes, the more disastrous the consequences.

The other quality infrastructure that quintessential leaders build is environment. The common features of this environment, wherever it occurs in life, are:

  1. A solid framework with well-defined parameters and a well-defined goal.
  2. Empowerment and encouragement of the team to take the initiative to develop and implement strategies and processes that better, more efficiently and more productively meet the goal (this includes a safe place to fail and learn from those failures in the process).
  3. Coaching and guidance wherever and whenever it is needed that produces growth, confidence, and proficiency.
  4. The intent that new quintessential leaders will eventually, with time and experience, emerge to continue the legacy of quintessential leadership. 

Another key aspect of the big picture of what quintessential leadership looks like is that quintessential leaders are problem solvers.

But how quintessential leaders solve problems is what makes this aspect unique to them.

When it comes to problems, many people tend to look at what’s right in front of them and assume that fixing that in-the-moment thing will eliminate the problem.

While it may seem to work superficially or temporarily, eventually the same problem(s) reappear again and again and are worse in each subsequent iteration.

And the people who thought they fixed it become more perplexed each time until they finally throw up their hands and walk away with nothing resolved and everything else much much worse.

Quintessential Leaders Solve Problems at the Root LevelQuintessential leaders approach problems as topical symptoms of issues and situations that have deep and longer-lived roots.

As with removing weeds from a garden, just eliminating what we can see on the surface will not get rid of the weed. Instead, we must dig down into the soil and pull the root of the weed up to remove it from the garden for good.

Most problems have root causes and situations that look nothing like what’s right in front of our view. To properly address and solve problems for good, quintessential leaders take the time to find out and understand the genesis and history of the problem.

Then they tackle problem resolution from that perspective, dealing with the real underlying issues and situations that have caused and are perpetuating the problem. 

By using this method, quintessential leaders become very adept at resolving really tough, tenacious problems that seem to have no solutions.

The last aspect of what quintessential leadership looks like from a big-picture point of view is that when they decide to act, they take decisive action.

Quintessential leaders are not halfhearted or wishy-washy about taking action. They don’t talk things to death without ever doing anything.

In fact, on the surface, because the preparatory phase is a background, out-of-the-limelight process, when quintessential leaders take action, it can seem startling in its speed, efficiency, and execution.

Quintessential leaders ensure that all their ducks are in a row before they act, but when the time comes to do something, they are swift and decisive.

There are two reasons for this.

One reason is that simply saying we’ll do things and never doing anything destroys trust and trustworthiness.

The other reason is that being halfhearted or wishy-washy about deciding and acting sets a poor example for our teams, whom we are coaching, mentoring, and guiding to also be quintessential leaders.

We are the models for building the next generation of quintessential leaders. Nothing speaks louder or teaches more effectively (for good or bad) than our examples: who we are, what we are, how we are, and what we say and do.

We must be continually modeling the big picture of what quintessential leadership looks like everywhere in our lives.

We can’t do it one place and not do it another. We can’t fake it. We can’t make exceptions.

It must be an integral part of us that we are constantly striving to become from the inside out.

How are we doing?

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  2. […] leaders have well-defined goals and they carefully and consciously think, plan, and build solid frameworks before they do or say anything. Even if it – and many times it can be – is in an […]


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