Dr Jane Kise on Intentional Leadership
What is intentional leadership and how does one embrace it?
Dr Kise was in Brisbane as the guest presenter at the AIM's popular Thought Leaders series and she delivered some telling messages on the topic on which she wrote the book Intentional Leadership.
AIM Media and Communications Manager Grant Stockwell AFAIM spent a few minutes with Dr Kise following the presentation to get the low-down on how to become an intentional leader.
Grant Stockwell, AIM: Good morning, Jane. Thank you for joining us at the Australian Institute of Management. What are your first thoughts on AIM?
Dr Jane Kise: This has been a great event to come to and have people that really wanted to learn something at this hour of the morning, especially.
AIM: What is intentional leadership?
Dr Kise: Some of the recent research shows that leaders set goals but they don't set priorities, and so intentional leadership is about making sure you understand your priorities for this particular situation because leadership is situational. It's about figuring out which strengths you can draw on to carry out those priorities, and it's also about realising how you might get stuck as a leader because none of us can do everything.
AIM: When you say 'get stuck as a leader' what do you mean?
Dr Kise: With every strength that we have comes a weakness. We can either overuse the strength or it has a blind spot attached with it. For example, if you're a big picture person you will overlook details sometimes especially if you're stressed or if you're not intentional about knowing which details are going to be important in a role. So intentional leadership is about making yourself aware of those kinds of natural difficulties that you'll have.
AIM: What are the tricks to detecting potential weaknesses in a leadership style?
Dr Kise: One of them is having some sort of neutral framework for looking at things. My favourite framework is the one that is underlying the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator, the MBTI. And while you don't have to be an expert to use the other tools that I have with the Intentional Leadership Framework, the Myers-Briggs does that sort of neutralising of what we do well. It doesn't limit us but just points out where we might get stuck. So that's one. The second is taking some time for reflection. Leaders are so busy and to actually set that time aside to think through 'what are my priorities?', 'are these the right priorities?', 'if I do this what am I accidentally overlooking?', is really key to being a good leader.
AIM: Is it important for a good leader or a productive leader to individualise their own management and leadership style?
Dr Kise: Absolutely, you need to lead from your own style. In Myers-Briggs terms we call it leading from your type. But you can't get stuck there. You've got all kind of types underneath you so you have to be able to flex to meet their needs. And yet you've still got to be anchored in who you are. You just don't want to get stuck there.
AIM: What are your top three tips to being an effective intentional leader?
Dr Kise: Number one is being aware that not everyone has the same communication needs as you. That they don't have the same productivity needs and so flexing your style to meet the needs of those under you is actually one of the hallmarks of great leaders.
The second is continuous learning – to really be open to knowing that you don't know it all, and to having those people around you that will say, 'Well, Grant, that's an interesting point but… I have some other ideas, can we put them on the table?'.
And then the third is actually thinking about leadership in terms of polarities – that often things are in tension with each other. For example, top down and bottom up leadership – you need both going on, you need to be hearing from those you lead but you also have a role as the top decision maker when things get tough or when people are in tension.
The Centre for Creative Leadership considers learning to think in polarities – that both sides form part of the truth as the second most important thing in being a good leader. The first being open to learning at all times.AIM: Thank you, Jane. Thanks for joining us at the Australian Institute of Management.