Much has been written on the true qualities of leadership and very often it boils down to what many term as the careful balance of “hard” and “soft” skills. Jim Collins compares humility and resolve, Ann Cuddy talks about strength and warmth and those in the field of Emotional Intelligence talk about intellectual and emotional capacity. My preference is to look at leaders in terms of their competence and connectivity. However you define it, competence is within the individual and the connectivity is about the human dependencies.
So what does connectivity really mean? Collins version of humility and Cuddy’s findings around warmth are key parts of this. In essence it’s about a leader’s ability to influence and mobilize other people to achieve the required results in a manner that is engaging and optimizing their full potential; effective leadership requires willing participants.
But how do you measure these? When somebody is being hired for a leadership position, competence very often carries most weight because it’s easier to assess. Their resume, track record, experience, etc, forms the basis. However the pitfall in many instances is that there is a misalignment with past achievements and future requirements. The classic situation that best illustrates this is the promotion of the best sales person into sales manager. Clearly a competence based decision where connectivity is often overlooked.
However what is more important is the question of which comes first? Cuddy in her research work contends that if the leader demonstrates warmth first and backs this up with strength, then that is the optimum. Stephen Covey in his seven habits paraphrased this as follows – Seek to Understand (connect) and then be Understood (competence).
However you look at it, both are critical.