‘Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.’ Laozi
Did you know that studies show that only fifteen percent of the workforce globally make it to be experts in their fields? If only Fifteen Percent of the workforce rises above the level of being an expert and achiever in their field we choose to ask two key questions.
What place and skill level are you in right now?
What development experience do you need to step to the next level?
The Fifteen Percent Leader is the one who is able to identify specifically where they are at in their development stage AND engage in skill and personal development experiences that help them move towards increasing levels of competence and influence. It’s like they have a real-time radar in front of them and in response to the markers on the screen they respond with deep, intentional, internal development.
The world of an Agile leader looks like this:
Leaders hold five main roles as they develop into an increasingly agile player in their space and place. The critical piece is knowing your starting point and being intentional about your next steps (see above two questions)
Agile leaders know what they need to do to navigate towards increasing levels of skill and influence as they move up the role levels. These roles are:
Role Expertise (Lead Yourself)
Most environments are dominated by people that are outstanding at their roles and get things done. Both of these are an essential foundation for the Fifteen Percent Leader. In all the environments I am part of I don’t know anyone who wants to be ‘just average’ – People have a drive, good ambition, energy and some smarts about how they can continue to do even better at the roles they have. These people lead themselves with responsibility, discipline, action and margin. These people know that their ability to contribute and add value comes from a place of self-leadership.
And, for the Fifteen Percent leader expertise is a beginning, not an end. They have an instinctive desire to move towards great levels of competence and as such greater levels of influence.
Strategic Expertise (Manage A Team)
When you’re an expert YOU get things done. When you’re a strategic expert you help OTHERS get things done in the context of your mission and vision. It remains technical in flavour but more complex in experience. As a leader, your contribution becomes not just what you do but who you connect to the wider game plan.
This role is a multiplier role. It’s the beginning point for working through people and not just for an outcome, a number or a target. This is the environment where the ability to handle complexity, paradox and competing priorities. It is a role that serves the bigger picture of the mission not just the specific responsibility of the department. The Agile Leader develops the skills to navigate the day in and day out in the context of the week, month, quarter and yearly objectives. They can move easily between detail and the big picture and assign resources to ensure the best possible result for the organisation.
People Expertise (Lead Teams)
People expertise is the price of entry for The Fifteen Percent Leader. You are an expert at what you do. You get things done effectively and efficiently and you help the overall strategy of the organisation move ahead – and all that comes crashing down unless the Agile Leader develops advanced and nuanced people skills. Packards Law is all about the priority of developing people who can carry the mission forward. You can’t grow bigger until you grow broader.
The Agile Leader makes what appears to be a sublet shift at this point. It isn’t but it appears so. They shift from technical expertise to people expertise. They shift from resource deployment to people development. They shift from being an expert in their role to become an expert at getting people to do their roles.
The Fifteen Percent Leader make this area of development a priority at all times. Deeply internalising the skills, sensitivity and execution of influential, subtle yet powerful people skills. This changes the leadership world as we know it!
Organisational Expertise (Lead Leaders)
At this stage, the Agile Leader begins to experience convergence. As the developmental pathway unfolds and you leverage the learnings around expertise, strategy and people you naturally navigate towards greater levels of scope, complexity and payoff. The Fifteen Percent Leader understands how to integrate a variety of skills, often competing and navigate teams of people to a place of energetic and aligned commitment to the future.
The Fifteen Percent Leader is able to hold the space of focus monad drive towards mission achievement as well as flexibility and agility as to how that is accomplished. It’s allowing the movable parts to move and holding fast on the critical and essential parts of the playbook. There is less certainty at this point yet a greater need for clarity and confidence that the overall next steps are the right ones to make together.
Disrupter (Shape Future)
The level of leadership we all dream about, this is the level of the Elon Musks, the Bill Gates and the Steve Jobs. To offer such game-changing value to the world that there is a fundamental shift in the playing field because we were there. Wow!
In his short post-Dr Scott Yorkovich list five principles that define the disruptive leader. These resonate the Fifteen Percent Leader Journey. They are:
Look at your problems in new ways.
Look for the problems others have labelled unsolvable.
Focus on direct and simple solutions.
Accept failure in the beginning.
Be patient for long-term change and impatient for meaningful impact.
The disrupter looks at the circumstances with a reality distortion tool and possesses the ability to assemble a team of misfits committed to doing what has never been done. The Fifteen Percent Leader has the ability to respond to the wind, manage the tide and consider the unchartered ocean ahead. And more often than not, disruptive and positive innovation results.
The Agile Leader knows their current role. Is aware of their next developmental step and has the drive and focus to get there. That’s what makes The Fifteen Percent Leader different from the 85% that share the same levels of capability but are missing that special and significant something that is THE difference that makes the difference. Be the difference.