Monday, June 10, 2013

The 5 Fingers of Leadership

The most unproductive leadership action is pointing the finger at someone. We've all done it at some point in our lives. We've said, "He did it. It wasn't me!"  And let's face it, it absolves us from responsibility and makes us feel better to know its not our fault.

But let's get real. If all we had was 1 finger, our lives would be pretty difficult.  We wouldn't have the dexterity to get things done.  

So here's my question, how many fingers do you have in your leadership?  The picture above shows the analogy how leaders should use all 5 fingers to empower excellence and use them not to point at the right person, but to the right problem. 

The least threatening finger of all is the greatest digit. It is the pinkie of positive presuppositions and trust (have you ever pinkie sweared?). Leaders must assume that people give their best even when they fail. Leaders must also assess the trust factor in the situation before moving to other fingers. 

Ring Finger
This finger of commitment is often lacking especially in leaders that constantly find fault in people. A true leader displays true commitment is times of adversity. Before resorting to pointing the finger, real leaders turn to their commitment to help people first and then to finding the fix second. Commitment is about supporting people in solving their problems.

Middle Finger
The middle finger is responsible for 35% of the entire hand's grip strength; thus it is the finger of teamwork. Leaders must analyze if there is a support issue when problems arise. Without teamwork, problems persist. Before finding fault, search for support and build capacity in teams to repair mistakes. 

The strongest and most unique digit of all is the thumb. The thumb doesn't point at the accused or the accuser. It points upward to a place I'd like to call opportunity. The greatest leaders look at every obstacle as an opportunity.  Leaders search for a bigger issue that could be the root of the problem?  The thumb will always point you in that direction. 

Index Finger
The most destructive and productive finger of all is the index finger. It can offend, but it can also affirm. Real leaders  use this finger to confront only after they have exhausted all other options.  Powerful leaders use the index finger to build people up. They point to others and say, "You Rock!"  They point out expertise, celebrate strength and encourage others. 

Don't Forget...
When you point the finger at someone, you have 3 pointing back at you. So if you're going to point the finger, you better make sure you have assumed the best, demonstrated commitment and built teams of support first. Next, look to your thumb to ensure you've identified the right problem.  Finally, if you employ all 5 fingers of leadership, you'll always be pointing not at the right person, but at the right problem. 

1 comment: