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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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Why do we need another leadership book?

Having just written a leadership book I was delighted by this pretty provocative question that a colleague put to me recently. “There are so many leadership books around already, why add another to the list by writing 4D Leadership?” she asked.


Paradoxically my answer was “Because there are so many leadership books around.” Let me see if I can explain my statement. When no one knows how to fix the problem then more and more people come up with their own answers or ‘treatments’. Just look at medical history. When no one knew what was killing people with infectious diseases, everyone had a recommended treatment – blood-letting with leeches, burning incense, small doses of poisonous herbs, bringing the priest in, etc. The confusion around leadership is the modern equivalent of an untreated infectious disease – we know we are ‘ill’ and there is a ‘leadership problem’ in many walks of life, but we are confused about how to solve the problem there seems to be no definitive treatment … until now.


At the core of our collective failure is the fact that we have not taken a multi-dimensional approach to the problem of leadership. Rather, we have been taking an incomplete view of the situation. People talk about leadership behaviours, or authenticity, or servant leadership, but these are all just single dimensions of a multi-dimensional problem.


We will only start to make progress and understand the real cause of failed leadership when we take a more sophisticated multi-dimensional view and all the books that don’t follow this approach will fall away. It’s not that any of these other books are entirely wrong; they are just simply partial answers to one part of the problem.


Multi-dimensional leadership

So what is multi-dimensional leadership? Basically there are three dimensions to our lives: I, WE and IT. Or put another way Being, Relating and Doing. To avoid being stuck in one of those dimensions, we need to understand and be aware of all of them. Some problems can only be fixed in the dimension they arise. If someone’s relationship is failing (a ‘we’ dimension problem), you won’t solve that with the temporary ‘IT’ dimension fix of buying your partner some jewellery. This may serve as a distraction (and often a powerful one at that) but it doesn’t solve the underlying relationship issue – it can’t because the solution is in a different dimension to the problem.


Similarly, you can’t apply an exterior solution if the problem is interior. Think about the issue of security. When people feel scared, others might be tempted to install a safety and security system around their house to address that feeling. While such a move is helpful it doesn’t necessarily remove the feeling of being scared. Again it is, at best, a temporary fix. And once you are down that road you may end up spending more and more money on elaborate security measures, when it is likely to be much cheaper and more effective to address your feelings of insecurity. So to solve the problem of security you really need to implement interior as well as exterior solutions. Whatever problem you are facing whether it is a relationship, your home security or leadership we must take a multi-dimensional approach that includes all three dimensions – I, WE and IT – if we want to make real and sustainable progress.


Find out how to become a multi-dimensional leader and discover more about the critical fourth dimension of leadership in: 4D Leadership: Competitive advantage through vertical leadership development.

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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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