• Sharon Pearson

Building leadership skills and a great team my way

Transparent and honest leadership is saying it as it is. Saying when we’re not getting it right, and being human and transformational for people around us.

We can’t keep looking to others for leadership if we’re not willing to ask it of ourselves. We can’t keep abdicating responsibility. When I talk about disruptive leadership, I don’t mean overturning leadership.


I mean being more effective, finding a more functional way to lead in our place of influence.

The key to leadership is not taking the back seat and criticising what it is we’re seeing, but saying, ‘In this space I can influence in a positive way.’

To want to tear it down is the most ineffective way of leadership we can show. To bitch about what we’re seeing but not doing anything about it. That’s dysfunctional.

So disruptive leadership isn’t about how to pull down anyone, it’s about how do we elevate everyone.

Leadership is about implementing what we know, bringing it to life in a way that is consistent, of a high standard and truthful. And the standard model I use to develop leadership ability and build a great team and culture is the Critical Alignment Model.


It enables us to access time and space equally equally, spreading attention across all aspects of it instead of limiting it to the problem or our perspective of the problem.


With the Critical Alignment Model, it is a forced choice. It forces us as potential leaders to stop doing our preference—the thing we're comfortable with, the thing we think is right—but to take care of every single dimension equally. If you use it, you will build a much stronger business and because of that, a much stronger team. And your leadership ability will grow up as well because you're taking care of four dimensions even though we all have a preference for one.


So, it starts with four quadrants that invite a Meta perspective, with the centrepiece being Our Purpose. The Vision or Environment is why this matters. It's values and assumptions.


Apply it to one action, say, answering the phone. The question to ask firstly is, 'What do we want to achieve?' If you're in Implementation mode, the answer would be, 'I answer the phone because someone's ringing.'


That is not the purpose of answering the phone.


The purpose is to wow the person on the other end.


Answering the phone is never a task. It is a mission.


Think of the story of the person who visited a beautiful cathedral that was being built. He asked the first stonemason he saw what it was he was doing. "I break my back every single day cutting stones. I'm exhausted. It's the toughest job."


A second stonemason was asked the same question: "My career is to make beautiful stones. It is my chosen profession and I take pride in my work."


A third stonemason cutting stones, said, "I am living my ultimate purpose. I am creating a thing of beauty that will stand the test of time."


That's the difference between having a job, a career and a purpose. If someone in your team sees what they do as a job, they are in the wrong job. People in task can't elevate their thinking and see the grander vision.


Then we have Structure. In the case of the person answering the phone, ask what structurally do they have in place to help them do that? At TCI, I wrote the first script for how to answer the phone, which gave structure including requirements for tone and warmth.



Global coach Sharon Pearson at her Melbourne home on June 5.

Now it's about selecting the right person. The script requires warmth, but can you make someone warm? Some people, no matter what you do, they're going to be defensive and weird, so you're going to structure it so they're clear on the purpose.


Third piece is Implementation, which is about the leader and the team member, and whether they're taking care of their quadrants. These two perspectives must be happening.


This is about the leader being authentic and the team member being autonomous and capable of thinking independently.


The final level is quadrant is People, and both leader and team member need to focus on being motivated. You need to hire people who you don't have to nag to do anything. You don't have to be at them all the time.


Remember with people, they need to make a mistake so they learn. The first time, the mistake is a mistake. Second time is a choice. Third time is a resignation letter. Because when it's the same thing being done over and over, that's being wilfully done and that's actually their preference.

The key is to get people on board who are intrinsically motivated. Where their desire to succeed is driven not externally, but from within.