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Episode 34

The Key to Being a Leader That Scales

Photo of Bob Anderson
January 23, 2019
67 minutes

Most people in leadership positions have earned their stripes. So what makes some of them highly effective whilst others remain ineffective?

In this conversation with leadership expert Bob Anderson we explore the different qualities that define effective versus ineffective leaders, the level of development that underpins them, and how to foster growth towards effective leadership.

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What makes effective leaders

What makes some leaders highly efficient and others not? The answer to this question, leads us to two distinct types of leadership; creative and reactive; creative leadership is associated with high efficiency, reactive leadership with low efficiency.

The qualities that set the creative leaders apart from the reactive leaders were mostly to do with people skills; being a teambuilder, a good listener, personable, leading by example. These were not qualities associated with highly reactive leaders – their highest scores are attributes such as technical skills, high intelligence, strategic. The creative leaders are equally talented but have in addition a wide set of people skills.

What is a reactive leader

Reactive leaders stay with what got them to their position, but that’s not actually what they now need. They are identified with their capabilities and need them to be recognised (and the necessity to be recognised gets bigger the higher up the ladder they go).

Their challenge is to find the same joy in helping others express their creative capacity as they have in expressing their own. This requires a huge shift in identity – it’s no longer about their creative ability but how they can help others tap into it within themselves.

This is the shift from socialised to self-authoring mind; less outside-in, more inside-out, less about me, more about us. Leaders in the high-creative group seem to have made that shift and reactive leaders haven’t. The reactive structure of the socialised mind is just not complex enough to handle what is required to be an effective leader.

The key factors in effective leadership

Interestingly there is a higher percentage of women in the high-creative category of leaders, although there are fewer women in the overall demographic (about 60/40 men to women). Why? It’s all about people; the ability to be in relationship at scale.

The key is the ability to lead relationally – to build synergy, trust, openness, and invite a higher collective intelligence, which is what is needed to thrive amidst complexity. Women, says Bob, are teaching us, “How to have deep relationship in the context of organisations”.

So what are the conditions in order for conscious leadership to scale in an organisation?

  1. Deep relationship
  2. Radical humanity

Leaders who are radically human – they’re vulnerable, they learn transparently, and invite their team into the same process. They live the concepts “start with yourself”, “lead by example” and “the system needs to change and that means I need to change”.

So how to go about shifting from a reactive to a more creative style of leadership?

  • Get good feedback so you can orient yourself
  • What’s the one big strength I could leverage
  • What’s the one big liability that would have the biggest impact if I changed it
  • Create an accountability circle/structure that can help you transform

Resources Mentioned:

About Bob

Photo of Bob Anderson
Bob Anderson

Bob Anderson is the founder, Chairman and Chief Development Officer of The Leadership Circle and the Full Circle Group. Over the past 35 years, Bob has dedicated his career to exploring the intersections between leadership and mastery, competence and consciousness, spirituality and business. He works with CEOs and leadership teams to help them improve their leadership effectiveness and is the co-author of the book, Mastering Leadership, described as the next seminal work in the leadership field.

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