The Outer 3 P's of Leadership

You often hear about the triple bottom line or the 3 Ps of People, Planet, and Profits. I am a fan of this thinking on what a company must achieve. I think there are some similarities with leadership. My 3 Ps for leadership are People, Planning, and Performance.

Having taught leadership for a number of years, many different leadership models have crossed my path. One that I used in my strategic leadership class was Zenger and Folkman’s leadership tent in their book The Extraordinary Leader: Turning Good Managers into Great Leaders. It’s a very good well researched model with character in the middle holding up the tent. The other four stakes are personal capability, focus on results, leading organizational change,and interpersonal relationship. They obviously chose specific orientations that matched the way they wanted to talk about the key dimensions of leadership. I could go on with other models of a similar nature.

Unfortunately, I have never found one that was totally robust for me. That’s why I’ve gravitated to the 3 Ps. The reason for starting this conversation with Zenger and Folkman is in my opinion, they have the right orientations but are limiting in their characterization. Let’s take my People dimension of leadership. Certainly, interpersonal relationships are one key aspect of that People dimension, but there are a lot more concepts that would fall underneath this broad umbrella. All the work on emotional IQ, the Concern for People axis of Blake & Mouton’s managerial grid, and so on. There are just a whole bunch of ideas and research that fall under People, and you would get bored with this blog if we started sketching that out. The point is that People is a big dimension of leadership.

Zenger and Folkman highlight leading organizational change. Change is all about envisioning where the organization should go. Professor Kotter was pretty insightful in the 1990s with his article entitled “What Leaders Really Do.” He contrasted leadership and management. He talked about leadership as being all about coping with change by setting direction, aligning people, and motivating people. My point is that coping with change involves all the elements of strategic planning: strategic assessment, strategy development, implementation planning, and performance feedback. I am not talking about the old regimented models of planning, but dynamic, real time, virtual, parallel processing type planning needed in today’s world of accelerating chaotic change. My previous blog on Strategic Content Matters reinforces this point on strategic planning being a key dimension for leaders. So, to simplify things I have simply shortened the label to Planning.

Keeping with the Zenger and Folkman model, focus on results is all about Performance. But Performance is more than just focusing on results. It’s also about having the capability to perform. So I would include Zenger and Folkman’spersonal capability under this Performance dimension. Performance has a lot to do with management, the ability to achieve organizational goals. Leaders are ineffective if they can’t achieve results. Performance counts big in having people follow. And like People and Planning there are a whole lot of topics under Performance. Leadership is about integrating these 3 Ps together. They are totally interdependent on one another.

What about character in the Zenger and Folkman tent model? Character is a license to operate as a leader. In the end, people will not follow a person lacking in character. So, character is part of the People dimension.

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