Building Scaffolding to Reach High Levels of Leadership

I work within a number of frameworks with my clients to help them see themselves as the leaders they need and want to be. I think about these frameworks as scaffolding that supports learning in a way that has meaning and context for you, the individual leader.  Once the scaffolding is in place, then you can begin to fill out the form and function of the what, why and how of your learning and development.

One of my “go-to” frameworks is one that I call “The Four R’s.” All of executive and leadership development cannot be boiled down to these four concepts, but what I’ve observed, experienced and studied is that great leaders will exhibit a strong showing of each of these:

Resilience: Effective leaders are those who can bend in strong winds without breaking and manage the continual stress of ongoing change and constant access to information. Often the coaching process investigates ways to develop and strengthen resilience and improve responses to stress and change. Team members are more apt to trust a resilient leader and follow where they need to be led.  

Relationships: Building workplace relationships is critical to productivity and success, and the single most important relationship-building tool is frequent and honest two-way conversation. Leader success blooms from team member success, the foundation of which is a regular, healthy exchange of information. Great leaders insist on honest conversation and teach their team members also to insist on it – otherwise teams become confused, mislead and demoralized.  Think of a rowing team that works well together and imagine what kind of chaos happens when they don’t. Yikes.

Real: The fear of humiliation often keeps people from being themselves, or being vulnerable in the workplace. It’s tough to admit you don’t have all the answers, particularly if you are the leader. When leaders achieve the ability to be more vulnerable, or “real,” they see team members step toward them and experience a greater degree of connection and cooperation with their employees.

Rhythm: How work gets done is critically important for a successful organization. Creating a proper work rhythm for a team allows members to speed up and slow down together, gracefully give entry to new members and create an environment of reciprocal trust. Leaders who create that rhythm minimize disruptions and provide a productive and joyful work experience for their team members.  The flow of work and interaction becomes more predictable and consistent. Go back to that rowing analogy. If there isn’t a rhythm, someone is going to feel pain.

Consider what framework helps you orient yourself to your personal and professional development. How are you building competence and mastery in the Four R’s?