The ability to reinvent work options that allow both business and employees to thrive is what sets exemplary organizations apart. One such employer is Goodway Group, a When Work Works Award winning organization that has implemented effective and flexible work as a business strategy to address the changing economy, changing technology, changing community infrastructure, and changing employee demographics. Leaders at Goodway Group believe in sharing their best practices and expertise with other business leaders. Continue reading below to see how Goodway’s COO, Jay Freidman, approaches multi-dimensional leadership competencies.
Multi-dimensional Leadership Competencies
By Jay Freidman, Chief Operating Officer, Goodway Group
Using Leadership “Bundles” Instead of Competencies Alone
There are plenty of great books, articles, and research to help a company adequately define the competencies needed in most roles within an organization. So too are there thousands of books and articles written about leadership competencies. SHRM’s own model contains leaderships competencies such as “taking risks and innovating,” and, “displaying drive and purpose.”
While I agree that these competencies are important, I think we need to start the conversation around identifying more complex, multi-dimensional leadership competencies that can be used to assess, coach, and develop leaders to reach their full potential. What it takes to be an outstanding leader and to successfully lead an enterprise is more complex than I think most single-dimensional competency models define.
From my experience leading Goodway Group, there are three competency “bundles” that have proven valuable to me in growing and assessing leaders in a business environment. Each builds on the other. These are sum totals rather than individual parts, and this has made it much easier for me to apply and communicate when developing leaders.
Zoom: Range, Breadth, and Speed
Upon hearing an important piece of information for the first time, different people will use different perspectives as their starting point. Imagine saying, “We’re going to be 10% over budget this year.” The head of a household thinks one thing, a small business owner another, the CEO of a global enterprise another, the leader of a G7 country something entirely different. Where someone starts off is one thing, but what is their range? How far in or out are they capable of going? The distance between someone’s closest in and furthest out zoom levels is what we identify as Zoom Range.
Most leaders have admirable Zoom Range within their field of expertise. The leader of a manufacturing company can usually speak to details and bigger picture trends of that company’s manufacturing niche. But what about that leader’s Zoom Range within Finance, Marketing, and Human Resources? This is often the first sign of a leader’s limitations. At a certain point in a career, Zoom Breadth – the ability to apply one’s Zoom Range across multiple disciplines – also needs to be developed.
Finally, there is Zoom Speed. In meetings with internal leaders, customers, suppliers, and shareholders, leaders need to be able to think quickly, at various zoom levels and across several different disciplines. While each individually is good, it’s the triangulation of Zoom Range, Breadth, and Speed that makes for a powerful bundle of Zoom competencies.
Puzzles: Assembly and Linking
I’ve picked this random image of Tom Brady throwing a touchdown pass. Zoom Range, Breadth, and Speed would all contribute to us being able to speak about various facets of this picture. We could speak about Tom himself, the Patriots, the sport of football, and offensive/defensive strategy. We could go back and forth between these topics with ease. Good Zoom Breadth, though, leads us to also think about things like the business and financial aspects of football, the nutrition regiment required to be in top physical shape to make that path, how many fans filled the stadium, and using that as an indicator of the economy. We could talk about the cost of one advertisement in a typical game, the advertisers that want to associate themselves with the NFL, and the cultural impact the sport and league have had on the United States and the World.
Putting pieces of a single puzzle together is important. When learning the game of football, understanding how individual player movements affect each other and the flow of a play is Puzzle Assembly. It’s putting together individual pieces and learnings into one bigger puzzle. It’s linking multiple, often half-assembled puzzles, that brings us to Puzzle Linking.
Having this Zoom Breadth is impressive. This means being able to speak about many various puzzles. Puzzle Meaning is more, though. It’s creating meaning and linking each puzzle. Perhaps a good local Boston economy helped make for a good revenue year for the Patriots, which enabled them to fully spend to the salary cap, which led them to bring in a better pass blocker, which led to this touchdown. We can feel our brain leaping from a local economic puzzle to a sports business puzzle, and ultimately to a tactical football puzzle. Great leaders assemble and link puzzles.
Zooming far and wide, and doing so quickly while intra- and inter-linking various puzzles and pieces of a puzzle will serve a leader well. But it’s what the leader does with that information and knowledge, and how strategically it’s deployed, that launches a company ahead of its competition.
When a fighter jet takes off from an aircraft carrier it first loses altitude before climbing. Weight and square footage is precious when floating at sea, after all. In business, we don’t like to risk cutting it so close!
By taking information from various disciplines and sources, linking it together, and determining how to exploit the gap between a leader’s own company’s strengths and the competition, the leader inevitably creates work for his or her team to be done in the coming months or years. The wider the Zoom Range and Breadth, and the more complete and linked the puzzles, the more runway a leader will be able to build for his or her organization by seeing further into the future. Using the aircraft carrier metaphor, the leader will be able to build additional runway for their aircraft, giving initiatives a much greater chance of a successful take off.
Applying This In Your Business
When I speak to one of my direct reports – a head of a major function at our company – we look for specific successes or challenges the organization is facing, but it doesn’t seem to address the bigger picture. When we shift the conversation to focus on Runway, it provides us a great starting point for larger conversations. The simple question, “How much strategic runway have you built in front of you to help catapult our organization even further ahead of the competition?” is a fantastic first glimpse into how strategically sound a leader is. Of course, we’ll also need to look at their ability to coach and develop direct reports, their organizational agility, and other more single-dimensional competencies. But looking at the Runway, Zoom, and Puzzle bundles, we can talk at a high level with ease.
Jay Freidman is a partner and COO of Goodway Group. He is a nationally recognized and accomplished digital media expert, speaker and writer, he regularly speaks at top industry conferences, writes for leading industry websites such as adexchanger.com and imediaconnection.com, and co-authors Goodway’s digital media how-to books, like 30 Days to Paid Digital Media Expertise, now in its 8th edition. Goodway Group was recently honored with a 2017 When Work Works Award for excellence in effective and flexible workplace practices.
“In everything we do, we strive to foster a collaborative and inclusive team environment,” said Jay Friedman, COO, Goodway Group. “It is extremely gratifying to receive an award determined chiefly on feedback from our employees. We believe this award supports the remote workforce model we have embraced as well as the efficacy of our workplace management strategies.”