Feature Article: Leadership Resources

Feature Articles / May 2001

In the last issue the subject was leadership on purpose. With this issue I continue to unfold some themes about Integral Leadership. This approach builds on the models and theories of Ken Wilber to provide a practical, business-savvy approach to executive leadership.

Leaders need to understand the nature of the resources that they have at their disposal to effectively lead a modern business enterprise faced with turbulence and complexity. We need to understand resources on two levels: the individual leader and the collective leadership of the enterprise.

The resources of leadership are different from the organizational resources that we most often think about, be they financial, intellectual property, good will, physical plant, technology or, even, dare I say –people! Leadership resources are often linked to these broader categories of resources, but there is something more, something different.

For the moment, let’s set aside the organization and focus on that group of executives who lead the company.

Note: Yes, leadership can be found anywhere in the company, but the focus of this exploration is executive leadership. Choosing this focus is not a political statement. It is a statement about business reality: executive leadership in business is held accountable for the performance of the business and sinks or swims depending on their performance.

Executive performance is linked to outcomes. In interviews that I have done with members of Boards of Directors of high tech Silicon Valley companies it has been very clear that the CEOs job is tied to performance and outcomes. It is about getting results that earn money for stockholders and doing this in a way that is acceptable to the board.

Executives use resources to help them lead their businesses to achieve these results. Aside from all of the obvious organization resources, what are these executive resources? One set is leadership resources.

Leadership resources must be used to achieve the leadership purpose(s) which serve the business objectives that are current. These are resources that are used principally among the set of leaders within the company. In a later issue I will talk about leadership resources in relation to stakeholders. I have identified four leadership resources:

  • Time
  • Energy
  • Information
  • Influence
  • Credibility

Time is about the number of minutes in a day and how many of those are spent on different issues and activities. And it is about how the leadership systems are set up in relation to time. What do leaders have in place to support their purpose that takes advantage of asynchronous time? An example of this might be ways they have of distributing information among leaders without having to be physically present.

Energy is about the capacity of leaders to focus their work and move it forward. On one level, if a leader is not getting enough rest or exercise they may find it difficult to bring energy to bear on dealing with a particular opportunity. Individual energy is important to individual leadership. Individual and collective leadership energy may also be about spirit, not in some metaphysical sense, but as attitude and capacity.

Information has to do with the leadership capacity to share information across boundaries in a way that it can be used to make decisions, take action or influence others.

Influence has to do with access to problem solving and decision making activities among the leaders.

Credibility has to do with the quality of trust and reliability that individual and collective leaders hold for each other.

Leadership resources are essential to the performance of leadership roles. What do you think?

> Russ Volckmann