Over the last years of working with many great senior & executive level leaders I got to pick up on some common patterns. Several of these patterns I hadn’t actually come across in my continued professional development as an executive coach, be that in courses, videos, or literature. More importantly though the material that was available was too scattered to really help. Before showing you the framework that became clear to me over time, I’d like to share some of the common challenges. So for now I’ll leave you with its name; ‘Prime Leadership Framework’.
prime: ADJECTIVE [attributive] Of the best possible quality; excellent. – Oxford Dictionary
Common leadership challenges
Sense of overwhelm
A sense of overwhelm is the strongest challenge that can get in the way for leaders to bring their best. It is a common attribute of successful leaders to want to get more done in less time. This is actually a false equation that I’ll get to later on. This challenge leaves the leader with having too many things on their mind or their list. The mental weight bears down on them hard. This state has a strong physiological and psychological impact.
Needing to know more than their people
Particularly tricky for practitioners who have become leaders, the need to know more than their people is a challenge. Again this is a false equation, since their role has changed from practicing a specific ‘craft’ to practicing leadership. The impact of this is that they focus too much on understanding the minutiae of the content, taking away too much attention of the bigger picture.
Drowning in organisational dysfunction
Especially in organisations that were established some time ago, it is common that there is organisational improvement debt that must be repaid. Not tackling this, or doing too little of it is another common leadership challenge. The impact of this is that their people will have to work ever so much harder because their ability to deliver is inhibited by outdated processes around their work. This stress is a key component of their people developing burnout.
Assuming that a leadership team just knows how to be a team
Somehow some leaders seem to forget that when they join a leadership team, work is still required for said team to become a well working and successful team. The impact of this is that each leader’s area will work in a silo and common challenges aren’t resolved that would support their people across areas.
Using outdated inner narrative
A good proportion of leaders succumb to old inner narrative that has been with them for some time. This inner narrative is often holding them back from real self actualisation. The impact of this challenge is a self-inflicted limitation of success.
prime: NOUN [in singular] The state or time of greatest vigour or success in a person’s life. – Oxford Dictionary
The Prime Leadership Framework
2 – The Prime Leadership Framework acknowledges in its foundation that a leader ought to work across two directions, inward and outward.
3 – The Prime Leadership Framework appreciates that a leader is on a unique journey and develops across three levels, tactical, strategic, and experiential.
5 – The Prime Leadership Framework offers a planning and tracking structure for the leader across five dimensions illustrated and defined below.
And of course the Prime Leadership Framework is designed by me and I enjoy having done so with authenticity. I enjoy prime numbers and found the definitions of the word ‘prime’ an inspiring co-occurrence.
prime MATHEMATICS (of a number) divisible only by itself and unity (e.g. 2, 3, 5, 7, 11). – Oxford Dictionary
The Five Dimensions of the Prime Leadership Framework
Value Delivery (outward)
While you must define what value means in your context it is always much more than money. Many mistakes have been made by myopically concerning oneself with monetary profits, often even morally and ethically questionable mistakes. In order to thrive, the organisation must honour the needs of its customers, users, of society, and the environment. This way it creates value. Money will flow as a byproduct of a healthy obsession with this way of value creation.
Organisational Improvement (outward)
Everything that is going on in your organisation is a signal telling you what is trying to happen. As a whole, the organisation must develop and grow. If it is left to its own devices without active management of its direction, like all else in the universe, it is subject to entropy.
People & Relationships (outward)
“Leadership is not about being in charge, it is about taking care of those in your charge.” – Simon Sinek
By looking after your people, you get looked after by your people in return. You help them grow, and the organisation grows. You protect and support them, and they will protect and support you.
Self Development (inward)
Adopting a whole-person approach to leadership development is key. Self-actualisation is a manifold path towards your best self. Looking just at the area of leadership qualities I invite you to work through the following questions.
- Who are the leaders and people you find most inspiring?
- What qualities do you deem necessary to be a great leader in order to serve your followers?
- How do you rate yourself on these qualities right now?
- How do these ratings need to change in order to become the leader you’ve been waiting for?
Initially this dimension was not in the Framework but it became apparent to me that it must. Everyone has the same amount of time each day, 1440 minutes. That’s it. Time is a constant, everything else flows around, and through it. This appreciation held centrally allows us to acknowledge the importance of doing the best we can in all aforementioned dimensions. Doing so we can then rest assured that we have always done as much, and done it as well as we could have at the time.
Another reason for including the time dimension in the Framework is that it serves as a constant reminder that we must balance our attention across various dimensions over time. The illustration is also designed to bring home this point. Focusing only on any one dimension over time means that the others suffer. Picking and choosing also means that certain dimensions get left out. Repairing them later on takes more effort than attributing some attention to it over time. More on these dynamics in future material.
One of the senior leaders I get to coach is Scott Colfer, Head of the Product Profession at the UK’s Ministry of Justice. He kindly shared his use of this leadership framework in an article.
This is the Framework that I now offer to my executive coaching clients. If you’d like to find out more about coaching, you can learn more here.
How does this land with you so far? Let me know in the comments below, or contact me via LinkedIn.