The 3 P’s of Leadership

In a previous blog, I mentioned the 3 P’s of leadership. You often hear about the triple bottom line for companies or the 3 Ps of People, Planet (as in save the planet), and Profits.  

I am a fan of this thinking on what a company must achieve.  I think there are some similarities with leadership.  My 3 Ps for leadership are People, Planning, and Performance.

Having taught leadership for many years, a lot of different leadership models have crossed my path.   One that I used in my strategic leadership class was Zenger and Folkman’s leadership tent in their book The New Extraordinary Leader, 3rd Edition: Turning Good Managers into Great Leaders.”

It’s a well-researched model with character in the middle holding up the tent.  The other four stakes are personal capability, focus on results, leading organizational change, and interpersonal relationships.

They obviously chose specific orientations that matched the way they wanted to talk about the key dimensions of leadership.  I could go on with other models of a similar nature.

Leadership is all about People

Unfortunately, I have never found one that was totally robust for me and straight forward with the world a leader deals in. That is why I’ve gravitated to the 3 Ps which are broad in scope focusing on the key dimensions a leader should keep top of mind.

The reason for starting this conversation with Zenger and Folkman is in my opinion, they have the right orientations but are limiting in their characterization.  Let’s take my People dimension of leadership. 

Certainly, interpersonal relationships are one key aspect of that People dimension, but there are a lot more concepts that would fall underneath this broad umbrella.  All the work on emotional IQ, the Concern for People axis of Blake & Mouton’s managerial grid, and so on. 

There are just a whole bunch of ideas and research that fall under People, and you would get bored with this blog if we started sketching that out.  The point is that People is a big dimension of leadership.  You don’t have a leader without followers.

Planning is crucial to Success

Now let us turn to the second P, Planning. Zenger and Folkman highlight leading organizational change. Change is all about envisioning where the organization should go. Professor Kotter was insightful in the 1990s with his article entitled What Leaders Really Do (Harvard Business Review Book) 

He contrasted leadership and management. He talked about leadership as being all about coping with change by setting direction, aligning people, and motivating people.  

My point is that coping with change involves all the elements of strategic planning: strategic assessment, strategy development, implementation planning, and performance feedback.  I am not talking about the old regimented models of planning, but dynamic, real time, virtual, parallel processing type planning needed in today’s world of accelerating chaotic change.

Followers need to understand where the leader wants to go. The leader must engage People on the direction. If they support that direction and been involved in the thinking process, then they will follow.

Performance the ultimate gauge

Finally, Planning is somewhat irrelevant if it does not lead to results. Keeping with the Zenger and Folkman model, focus on results is all about Performance. But Performance is more than just focusing on results.  It is also about having the capability to perform and the motivation to do so. 

I would include Zenger and Folkman’s personal capability under this Performance dimension. Performance has a lot to do with management, the ability to achieve organizational goals.  Leaders are ineffective if they can’t achieve results. People like winners.  Performance counts big in having people follow.  And like People and Planning there are a whole lot of topics under Performance.

Leadership is about integrating these 3 Ps together. They are totally interdependent on one another.

What about character in the Zenger and Folkman tent model?  Character is a license to operate as a leader.  In the end, people will not follow a person lacking in character.  Thus, character is part of the People dimension. As one of the great authors on leadership Warren Bennis once said, “Managers do things right. Leaders do the right thing.”

4 Inner Ps of Leadership

If you keep these 3 Ps of leadership top of mind, your Leadership success will follow naturally.  This is presuming that you have a good understanding of yourself.  Becoming a great leader is a never-ending process of self-development and developing those you lead.

My framework on leadership includes 4 Ps on your understanding your inner self.  We will talk about those Ps in another blog as well as more fully develop the 3 Ps above of what you do as a leader.

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