Moments of Greatness
The cover of the July 2005 edition of the Harvard Business Review caught my attention — Moments of Greatness: Entering the Fundamental State of Leadership.
The central idea of the article, by Robert Quinn, Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, is that when leaders excel - when they are truly 'on' - they enter what Quinn calls a 'fundamental state of leadership'. This is a state in which you instinctively know what to do, perform at your best and become able to inspire others to high performance. Quinn claims that this state is normally only entered when a crisis jolts someone out of their comfort zone and they are forced by external events to rise to the occasion. Now Quinn is offering is a way to enter this state at will by means of a series of 'transformational questions'.
The characteristics or qualities of this 'fundamental state' that Quinn has identified, and around which the 'transformational questions' are organised are:
- Results centered (knowing what results you'd like to create, and moving toward possibilities that don't yet exist)
- Internally directed (motivated from within and according to your own values rather than complying with the expectations or wishes of others)
- Other focussed (committing to the collective good, even at personal cost)
- Externally open (paying attention to stimulus from the environment, and being willing to take risks)
Quinn states that 'These four qualities are at the heart of positive human influence, which is generative and attractive' and although he considers the state temporary, he does concede that the more you enter it, the easier is becomes to go there again.
As an Associate Trainer in the MythoSelf Process I found the coincidence between Quinn's characteristics of leadership and the results we achieve consistently in our work really quite striking.
For those of you who are curious, you'll find more, including a downloadable pdf at www.deepchange.com.