“By ourselves, we are unlikely to change the status quo, but working with others opens up infinite possibilities.”
~ The Leader’s Inner Source*, Chapter 5, “Creating infinite possibilities”

This past month, I was reminded of this truth when I entered into a partnership with Legitimate Leadership. It hit home for me on two levels.

Firstly, partnering with the right people creates more possibilities and allows us to realise more of these possibilities for the good of all.

Secondly, the work of Legitimate Leadership aligns with my research and work experience that one of our primary roles as leaders is to raise the ceiling for those we lead so that we can co-create infinite possibilities with them.

Working with the right people

Legitimate Leadership is not my only partnership. I already work with five other amazing organisations:

Each of these partnerships is mutually beneficial. I add value to their team and the clients we serve. And the partnership gives me much more than more work. I learn, grow and develop because of the relationships and methodologies I get exposed to.

While I believe in the power of partnerships, I believe we should enter into them with careful consideration.

With Legitimate Leadership, for example, I already became aware of the foundation of their work in the 1980s. At the time, they conducted research in the mining sector in South Africa, where I worked. Some of their findings struck a chord with me back then, so it is not surprising that their model, based on that original research, still resonates with me.

When our paths crossed again lately, I first attended some of their workshops to make sure that we are still aligned on our core values. I also had conversations with members of their team. We only formalised the partnership when we were convinced that we are a good fit for each other and the clients we’ll serve together.

I can encourage you: seek out opportunities where you can work with the right people. Evaluate each carefully, and do not hesitate to embrace it when you are well aligned.

Working together in partnerships is a powerful way to create infinite possibilities.

Raise the ceiling for those you lead

Legitimate Leadership’s approach also reaffirmed for me that we as leaders create the context in which others can create infinite possibilities – or not.

As I put it in Chapter 5 of my book*:

In the context of the system where we are the leader, we set the ceiling of possibility. If we set the bar low, those we lead will either shrink back or move out from underneath our leadership to somewhere where their potential can be realised.

However, we can also do the opposite. We can create a context where people are reminded of their value and their potential. By believing in people and developing them, we can open up possibilities for others so that their potential can be unleashed more fully.

The Legitimate Leadership Model is based on the principle that when leaders and managers care about and give to those they lead, employees reciprocate with trust, commitment and contribution. When Legitimate Leadership is practised, employee disengagement plummets, and performance and accountability skyrockets.

The model was developed based on research in the harsh mining sector of South Africa in the 1980s, and it has proved true in over 300 diverse organisations in 30 countries over the past 25 years. It also aligns perfectly with the leadership framework that emerged from my PhD study and the principles I’ve incorporated into my coaching practice for years.

Twenty-two practical ideas of how to help others create infinite possibilities

It’s important to note that the principles of Legitimate Leadership and creating infinite possibilities are not theoretical. They should be practised, not just talked about. The Legitimate Leadership team speaks about “cultivating leaders who have benevolence in their hearts but steel in their hands”.

Here is a list of ideas from the Legitimate Leadership team on how to start practising these principles:

Get to know people better as human beings, not just human resources.
Set up one-on-one meetings with direct reports where you suspend your agenda for theirs.
Ask each of your people what, if they got it from you, would enhance their contribution – and deliver what you can.
Demonstrate genuine concern for personal circumstances while still holding people accountable for their contribution.
Take away the obstacles and reduce the administrative “stuff” that prevents managers from serving their people and non-managers away from serving their customers.
Clarify and agree with each of your people what they are uniquely accountable for.
Audit less and “watch the game” more.
Raise the bar – expect nothing less from people than the best that they can be.
Start to analyse failures to meet standards in terms of means, ability and accountability issues and take the appropriate remedial action.
Demonstrate gratitude (praise and reward) for what people have given.
Push accountability down the line and away from the centre.
Build some leadership measures into the scoreboard.
Stop checking on everything that people are doing.
Respect the line of command.
Change the relationship you have with your people from a reporting to a coaching relationship.
Tell your boss to stop interfering in your area if that is what he/she is doing.
Consistently censure for carelessness and discipline for deliberate malevolence.
Ensure that people are making more decisions independently of you than they were making six months ago.
Use the scoreboard as a means to enable contribution rather than an end.
Reward people commensurate with the contribution made.
Be appropriate in every situation, act with generosity and courage.
In every interaction, choose to “give” rather than “take”.

An invitation to learn more

If you are interested to learn more about the Legitimate Leadership Model, you’re welcome to contact me.

I am especially excited about the One Day Executive Overview of the Legitimate Leadership Model. Topics covered include:

Power by permission – the key issue in any relationship of power, like that between an employer and employee, is not price but legitimacy.
The price of power – care and growth are the universal criteria of any legitimate relationship of power.
Growth and the incremental suspension of control – the empowerment process enables growth for people who take accountability and are held accountable for what they are entrusted with.
Generosity, courage and the process of maturation – the product of leadership is not a result but exceptional people.

Contact me on +27 83 265 9027 or at reanduplessis@rdup.com for more information.

* The Leader’s Inner Source is available on Amazon, or contact me on +27 83 265 9027 or reanduplessis@rdup.com to purchase it directly.