The Advancing Leadership Blog

Tools of a leader

As a leader, you are focused on results – the bottom line, the ROI – but how do you go about achieving the results you want? This morning at the TEC Chair Retreat in Kananaskis, Speaker Don Schmincke spoke about the seductive nature of tools, how we use them to achieve results, and how we can sometimes get so caught up in the mechanics – information, goals, policy and processes – we can forget that behaviour is the driver. And a leader who relies solely on tools to be a leader is, effectively, little more than a manager.

Don illustrated his point using mountain climbers, who had all the top tools to make the most difficult climbs, but failed because they didn’t have the behaviours, or beliefs underpinning them, for those tools to really do their job.

So how does one break away from this reliance? It’s true – tools are seductive. They are defined, implemented and familiar ways to handle risks: They say ‘use me and your business will be efficient, low-risk, cost-effective’.

One of the recurring points of discussion was the role of fear and uncertainty – and truthfully, when the stakes are as high as they are for a chief executive, there’s a great temptation to seek the control and predictability of known processes and information. But it’s by accepting the fear and uncertainty that a leader can move beyond the urge to create order and really connect with the leader that is found within their behaviours. In the same way, a mountain climber must be first and foremost a mountain climber, not a user of tools to climb mountains.

What sort of a leader are you? What tools do you use, and do they run your business, or do you?

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