by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 1/11/15.
Research by the McKinsey Organization on 189,000 leaders in 81 diverse organizations4 around the world discovered there are four (4) reoccurring behaviors in effective leaders. These “four kinds of behavior account for 89 percent of leadership effectiveness.”
Over the years I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to mentor and counsel some of the best leaders in America. And I can confirm the McKinsey Organization’s conclusions about these being the four recurring behaviors of effective leaders.
Below is a McKenzie research summary of each behavior, with a short application by myself regarding how each behavior may apply to ministry leaders.
Use these behaviors as a guide in hiring and leadership development.
(McKinsey Organization) Solving problems effectively. The process that precedes decision making is problem solving, when information is gathered, analyzed, and considered. This is deceptively difficult to get right, yet it is a key input into decision making for major issues (such as M&A) as well as daily ones (such as how to handle a team dispute).
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Problems solvers do not run away from problems or ignore them, but tackle them head-on in a unifying and teambuilding way. They are known in the organization as problem-solvers.
(McKinsey Organization) Operating with a strong results orientation. Leadership is about not only developing and communicating a vision and setting objectives but also following through to achieve results. Leaders with a strong results orientation tend to emphasize the importance of efficiency and productivity and to prioritize the highest-value work.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Skilled leaders care about results more than micromanaging the process. As Mike Breen says they ‘have high accountability, but low control.’ High accountability is the key – which means having specific results to which everyone agrees and that are realistic, attainable and celebrated when they are met.”
(McKinsey Organization) Seeking different perspectives. This trait is conspicuous in managers who monitor trends affecting organizations, grasp changes in the environment, encourage employees to contribute ideas that could improve performance, accurately differentiate between important and unimportant issues, and give the appropriate weight to stakeholder concerns. Leaders who do well on this dimension typically base their decisions on sound analysis and avoid the many biases to which decisions are prone.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Today’s skilled leader stays abreast of innovations and changes in ministry culture. They don’t go by gut instincts or what’s worked in the past but do their research before a change is made. They then know how to explain these changes in ways that motivate and unite the workers.”
(McKinsey Organization) Supporting others. Leaders who are supportive understand and sense how other people feel. By showing authenticity and a sincere interest in those around them, they build trust and inspire and help colleagues to overcome challenges. They intervene in group work to promote organizational efficiency, allaying unwarranted fears about external threats and preventing the energy of employees from dissipating into.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Skilled leaders work hard to find out what motivates each employee. They do this not for their own success, but for the team’s success. Like a counselor they are sensitive to the hopes, aspirations and needs of those they lead. They create trust and confidence in their leadership because it is rooted in understanding those they lead.”