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4D Leadership

4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development

Twenty years ago the accumulation of skills, knowledge and experience (‘horizontal development’) was sufficient for business success. Today, it’s not. 4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development, offers a new approach of ‘vertical development’.

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Do you love your job, but hate the people you work with? You might be a one-dimensional leader

A few years ago a colleague and I conducted some research [1] where we spoke to 200 CEOS about what they’re paying attention to. What they told us may not surprise you, CEOs spend 80 to 90% of their time focused on their job; the things that they need to do. When we’re so invested in what we need to do (the ‘IT’ dimension), we often don’t realise there are two other dimensions – the ‘I’ dimension and the ‘WE’ dimension.

You often hear leaders and managers say, “My job would be brilliant if I didn’t have to deal with the people”. To me this is a big indicator of a one-dimensional leader, a person who has so focused on the job (IT) that they have failed to pay attention to the relationships (WE) that drive the ‘IT’. Organisations are collections of human beings and the success of our business is grounded in our relationships with our customers. All business is about relationships – both internal and external. We might have the best strategy in the world, but if we have poor quality relationships then this alone can impair our culture and we will probably fail to deliver. As Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. 

When people say they love everything about their job apart from the people, they have a complete misunderstanding about what work is. At least one third of your job is all about the people, or at least it should be. The best leaders realise there are three dimensions (I, WE and IT), with the fourth dimension (4D Leadership) being the level of sophistication in the I WE and IT dimensions. We need to recognise that people are our job and not something soft and fluffy to be abdicated to the HR department. Our relationships at work are central to the performance of the business.

If you truly love your job, you’ll love all of it. It’s definitely worth cultivating your ability in the WE dimension to improve the quality of your relationships. That means relationships with the people you manage so you can get the best out of them, with your stakeholders to secure their support and confidence and with your customers to sustain the long-term future of your business. 

Read 4D Leadership for more on how to develop the ‘WE’ dimension of leadership.



[1] Steve Tappin The Secrets of CEOs

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Dr Alan Watkins

Alan is recognised as an international expert on leadership and human performance. He has a broad mix of commercial, academic, scientific and technological abilities.


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