The Four Tasks of Effective Leadership

This insight comes from Managing the Oval Office by David Rothkopf (David Rothkopf is the chief executive of the FP Group, the publisher of Foreign Policy magazine, and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace). In this piece from the New York Times Sunday Review, a rather “less-than-enthusiastic” take on President Obama’s leadership, we find a really great, truly accurate summary of the tasks of effective leadership:

Here’s the quote:

“Selecting a diverse team, creating a system in which ideas surface, listening to those ideas and then empowering others to put them into action are the cornerstones of good management — and of effective leadership.”

And here, listed, are the four tasks.

Task 1:  Select a diverse team.
Task 2:  Create a system in which ideas surface.
Task 3:  Listen to those ideas, and then
Task 4:  Empower others to put them into action.

So, if you are in a position of leadership, it’s time to do a little self-analysis. How are you doing on these four?

And if you work for a leader, you might want to share this article.

Randy Mayeux


Contributed by:
Randy Mayeux
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis

3 responses

  1. Task 2 (Creating a system in which ideas surface) reminds me of how important it is for a leader to understand the personalities of their team members. It is easy to unintentionally create an environment where the ideas that surface are the ones that belong to the more extroverted team members. The extroverts are more inclined to be vocal in crowd, and to push their ideas through the background noise of other voices. In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain describes a software company that would vet new ideas through a “murder board”. An employee would present an idea to a group of three others, who would aggressively challenge them on its merit, and then select which ideas were implemented. The company’s CEO found that rather than the best ideas getting through to implementation, the “murder board” selected the extroverts’ ideas, because the introverts did not perform as well presenting their ideas to the board. The CEO replaced the “murder board” system with a “stock market” system, where anyone could submit ideas in writing to a “marketplace”. Other employees could read the ideas, and vote for the ones they liked (buying “stock” in the idea) individually and privately, rather than in the melee of a noisy meeting. The CEO found this to be a better way to find ideas based on merit, rather than the personality of the idea’s owner.
    Effective leaders will find the ways that their team members prefer to contribute and evaluate ideas, and it isn’t always the big noisy free-for-all.

    1. Taking personality into account is a very important factor as you pointed out, SeekOutWisdom. With diversity comes a vast array of personalities. Leaders need to be sure to create an environment where all involved can feel they had their opinion heard.

      SGR actually offers assessments (I-OPT and DiSC) for this type of situation. Based on the results, each team member can see how he/she processes information and which approach should be taken to effectively deal with other members of the team.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. And, Quiet is a terrific book because Susan Cain reminds us, in a number of ways, that the “quiet” among us are often ignored. Big mistake! Big! Thanks for sharing the insight. (Yes, I have presented an executive book briefing on Quiet).

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