Looking for a leadership book that begins with you rather than a highly recognized commanding, dynamic, forceful leader? This book claims to be about “leading like you, only better.” It’s a methodology for helping you become a better leader, beginning with your personality and ending with advice from other leaders.
DiscProfile.com recently interviewed one of the authors of The 8 Dimensions of Leadership, Jeffrey Sugerman. Here’s what he had to say about the book:
The 8 Dimensions of Leadership is different in a couple of different ways. First of all there are many books that focus on leadership from the perspective of what you should be doing to be a more effective leader. There are plenty of books out there that also focus on a specific methodology of leadership. For example, a strengths-based approach or one of all the other different ones out there. Our book is actually focused on bringing the concept and topic of personality back into the dialog about leadership. And so our book is about leaders becoming more self-aware as leaders: self-reflective and understanding who they are, and not just what they do. In fact, who they are accounts for a big part of their overall effectiveness as a leader. That’s what a lot of our research showed.
The research that led up to the book included the delivery and review of 360 reviews (using Everything DiSC 363 for Leaders) and interviews. They didn’t just take a leader’s word for what made them effective and successful. They took the words of people who knew them at their best and at their worst: their peers, subordinates and bosses (if they had them.) “The data set started with ratings of about 3,000 leaders and about 21,000 raters. Now that database is much larger than that so some of the data came from the later reviews,” explained Sugerman.
So what did all this research discover? The eight dimensions they identified are shown in the graphic they use in the book and which we show at right. “How many are really necessary for a leader to be successful?” we asked. The answer is all eight.
We were surprised by the results because the current thinking out there is very much a strength-based approach, right? Where you do what you do well naturally and you outsource the rest. We thought that’s what would be true. That a leader who was really good at cheerleading or working with customers would be seen as a good leader. A leader who is very effective, commanding, directing, delegating, getting it done, go through the walls, show no mercy, take no prisoners—that they’d be rated as a good leader. And the leader who is affirming—inviting people in, making it a really nice place to work—would also be seen as a good leader. But it turns out that if you’re just good at one or two or those things, you’re not. The data is compelling.
The people who are rated as highly effective leaders—there wasn’t a lot of ambiguity in the data—they were good at all eight things. And you could be really good at a couple and not be rated as highly effective. Part of what we’re trying to say is that leadership is a whole person, a whole body; it doesn’t just come from doing one or two things out of a textbook really well.
There are a lot of leaders who start out in life saying, “I can outsource the pep rally to my HR department. I don’t have to be good at leading pep rallies. And I can outsource the details to my CFO; I don’t have to be good at that. I can just be focused on customers, or focused on planning or process.” And what our research shows over and over again is: no, that to be a truly effective leader you have to be good at leading the pep rally even though it’s not coming naturally to you. You have to go do your homework and understand the details of your business even if that’s not natural to you.
This isn’t as overwhelming as it might sound. “These aren’t super human things you have to do differently. They are very much in the range of normal ‘oh yeah, I get it, that’s what I need to do differently,’” said Sugerman. The book provides a self-assessment in Chapter 2 which identifies where you feel most comfortable on the leadership map and helps you understand both your motivators and your limitations. In other words, it directs you toward dimensions you might need or want to develop in order to be more successful. (You can also contact us to request your free assessment.) This gives you a starting point. Sugerman explains, “We don’t imagine the book being read end to end, but rather as a resource: starting with your own style and then learning what other leadership styles have to offer you. We give you an assessment and a methodology to understand where you are on our map.”
The book also offers a needs assessment. Each reader will need to decide where he or she needs to begin working on leadership dimensions. Sugerman gave the example of a young man who lead an R&D group who was a commanding leader. Looking at the leadership dimension map, you might assume that he would need to learn to be more inclusive or humble. But since this leader understood that he wasn’t good at presenting his top management with the details, facts and numbers they wanted, he chose to work on an adjacent leadership style: deliberate.
The later section of the book is advice from each of the eight dimensions. You’ll find suggestions and three concrete lessons for each. The writing style is simple and straightforward, and the lessons very direct. “The whole idea is that the best teacher to teach about how to be an effective commanding leader, if that’s what you need, is a commanding leader,” Sugerman told us. “[The three lessons for each dimension] were data driven and also based on interviews that we had. That’s half the book—lessons of the other leaders rather than about who you are and what contributes to that blind spot. We wrote the book with the voice of a coach.”
“When we wrote the book we hoped that people would buy it and pass it along to somebody who needs it,” stated Sugerman. That sounds like good advice. If you have someone you’d like to share it with or you’d like your own copy, books are available through www.DiscProfile.com. The first chapter of The 8 Dimensions of Leadership is available online. Let us know what you you learn from from the book, how you’re using it with others, or who you gave it to.
View Jeffrey Sugerman speak: