Managing to Lead: Leaking Values Vs. Leading Values

Managing to lead is a series of articles attempted at simplifying and demystifying the seemingly overrated phenomenon of ‘Leadership’; Leaking Vs Leading values is the first in the series.

“Models are many and theories even more, all in an attempt to understand leaders and the ship they carry ever since man became more than a group of four.” – enfkay

Before you proceed reading this article take this quick self assessment on whether you as a leader Leak or Lead Values within your organisation. Choose one statement that best describes your behaviour in each row. Be open an honest as this will help you understand yourself better. Do not skip or leave out any statement. This questionnaire a small part of a larger psychometric assessment tool on ‘Managing to Lead.’

Scoring and Interpretation:

Leading Values – 1(a), 2(a), 3(b), 4(b), 5(a), 6(b), 7(a), 8(a), 9(a)

Leaking Values – 1(b), 2(b), 3(a), 4(a), 5(b), 6(a), 7(b), 8(b), 9(b)

A score of 6 and above on either of the scales (leading/leaking values) gives an indication of the kind of value system that you as a leader display at work.

Leaders who display the ‘leading value system’ tend to be verbose about what is right and wrong, ethical and non ethical. Often these leaders uphold a very strict moral and ethical code within their teams, adopting a hands on approach to everything, giving their teams very little margin for experimentation. They strongly believe that each individual is different and it is the leaders responsibility to see these differences, while assigning responsibilities within the team. These leaders tend to blame themselves if the project does not go as planned and feel it is a lapse in judgement on their part. Had they been more careful in selecting the right person for the right job, they would not have to face the current consequences. These are classic traits of a leader emotionally involved with the project at hand as well as the team members. Such leaders take it upon themselves to groom weak members by drawing detailed career and coaching maps, monitoring team members progress and career graph at every step. Constantly reminding team members that they are there for them.

Display of such tremendous effort in helping another individual achieve his true potential leads to dramatic results, that are often short lived. Team members feel charged, energized, motivated to push the limits but in the long term it makes them‘person dependent.’ Tragically, the most common outcome is that when such a leader leaves the organisation, a whole bunch of employees leave with him, nullifying the whole value system and questioning the style of leadership. This clearly defeats the purpose of empowerment at all levels – one of the biggest challenges that organisations across the globe are facing today.

Leaking Values on the other hand is a subtle way of knowingly transmitting the essence of what the leader believes in and stands for among members of the team, without unnecessary fuss. It is a well formulated strategy practiced by some of the most influential leaders across the globe. Such leaders are experimental in nature, working with detached passion wherein, every project is a new learning experience and they do not hesitate in disrupting the current flow of things just to see how people handle change within teams. Constantly encouraging team members to take the forefront while playing the role of a back stage mentor, neither taking credit for the team achievements nor becoming overly critical when things do not work out. These leaders maintain a low profile, constantly working hard to remain behind the scene, focussed on achieving organisations goals, inculcating a strong sense of independence among team members. These individuals are rare to come by – they work on the principle that everyone is capable of brilliance irrespective of the roles assigned to them, and hence do not discriminate. Constantly looking for commonalities among team members rather than differences they help teams evolve into units of excellence. Such individuals focus on the global environment rather than isolated reactions to current situations.

Whether politics, sports, running a business conglomerate or a nuclear family, the common thread that binds it all together are values. The difference between success and failure in every area then lies in the manner in which these values are transmitted. Leading values is the easiest way to disseminate what you believe in but this technique has a relatively short shelf life. Subtly leaking values takes time, patience and a non judgmental attitude, the rewards however are exponentially satisfying and permanent for everyone involved – the team members, organisation and most importantly the leader, who has truly learnt the art of ‘managing to lead’.

– Noor Fathima

Director, Disha Consulting Ventures Pvt. Ltd.



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