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Friday, October 17, 2014


Certainty implies no doubt, done deal, can't miss, guaranteed.

From a leadership perspective, certainty comes in two varieties:
  • Outcome-based certainty
  • Purpose-based certainty
Leaders who operate from an outcome-based certainty profess to know exactly the products and procedures they want delivered.  No questions asked, no deviations.  Bombast and dictate are two of their fundamental leadership tools.  Dubious metrics and nonsensical protocols are common characteristics of organizations with this kind of leader.  Folks working under leadership of this stripe find themselves in an environment in which standardization and homogeneity are the norm.  Standards are set, outcomes are demanded, deliverables are required.  Organizations under this kind of leadership manifest some interesting dynamics:  "hiding" is an asset, avoidance of responsibility is a life-extender, risk aversion likens advancement, and blame-throwing is an art.

On the other hand...

Leaders who operate from a purpose-based certainty deftly articulate a vision of organizational pursuit and achievement that is worthy.  Usually, this vision has been collectively crafted.  These leaders display intense passion around and invest great personal energy in that vision.  They create a permeating tapestry of relationships, resources, messages, and engagement around that vision, that are embedded into the day to day work of the organization.  Interconnectedness and interdependence are the valued hallmarks of the organizations led by this kind of leader.  Folks who work with these leaders find themselves in an environment in which mastery is incentivized, not standardization.  They prosper in a climate of autonomy, in which the pathway toward the vision is malleable, customizeable, and personalized.  The incentives are most certainly there, though more symbolic, affective, and self-actualizing than tangible.  It is a magical combination of both form and substance. 

I've worked for and observed both kinds of leaders.  MUCH prefer the latter.

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