LEADER’S FIELD GUIDE
Up and to the right! Success is often charted using revenue by quarter, production by employee, or quality by widget. Leaders are driven to graph “hockey stick” growth, defined by Silicon Valley Dictionary as squeezing the X-axis until growth curve is Up and to the Right. Growth is so important, Emojipedia dedicates an entire page to the “Chart Increase” emoji which boasts the many variations offered by phone manufactures and social media companies! Each emoji reflects coveted “hockey stick” growth characterized by a relatively flat downward trend followed by a sharp and extended increase.
There is a paradox, however, not all up and to the right measures reflect good leadership. For example, an extremely confident leader can be arrogant. Yet, a leader without enough confidence can be ineffective. So, is humility the answer? Well, only in combination with high-confidence. Hence the paradox: a powerful leader has both a lot of confidence and a lot of humility! If you chart confidence over humility, you get four quadrants. Consider your experiences at work and away from work, in which quadrant(s) of leadership do you find yourself?
- Ineffective: Leaders high on humility and low on confidence are often patronized by their teammates because they are unaware of or doubt their abilities. Ineffective leaders lean toward pleasing rather than serving; they are known as Martyrs. Their burning question is, “Why doesn’t anyone believe in me?”
- Fragile: Leaders high on pride and low on confidence can be used by their associates because approval is so important. Fragile leaders focus on accomplishing rather than contributing and are known as Performers. Their burning questions is, “When will I get promoted?”
- Arrogant: Leaders high on pride and high on confidence are often resented by their co-workers because they are incredibly successful at all costs. Arrogant leaders focus on conquering rather than championing; they are known as Trumpeters. Their burning question is, “What is my real purpose?”
- Powerful: Leaders high on humility and high on confidence are often respected by their colleagues because they have great expertise and place a high value on others. Powerful leaders are motivated by modesty and inspiring others; they are known as Warriors. Their burning question is, “How can I serve?”
The powerful leader or humble expert excels with a heart of stewardship over those with hearts of frustration (humble amateur), fear (arrogant amateur), and emptiness (arrogant expert). Up and to the right might not always mean improving the bottom line by reducing costs of time, labor, or imperfections. Hockey Stick leadership might mean fierce confidence and gentle humility, a strange paradox indeed!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She founded Synergy Groups, virtual masterminds connecting Christians in leadership around the globe for the purpose of Community, Accountability, and Transformation. She also partners with high-performers and heirs-apparent especially in the STEM industries. Michelle’s formal background in technology, franchise, and project management gives her an edge on implementing best practices and scaling towards sustainable success. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 22 years.