Human, Take Me To Your Leader! A Human Sigma Perspective of Leadership

John Walter Baybay
Originally Published in 4.19.14 The Star Malaysia

In a previous article called “Leadership in the Millennial Age of Execution, I have said that the era of the 80’s and 90’s visionary is leaders have started to ebb away. During Apple’s turn over to Tim Cook, the market and the industry reacted with quivers of ambiguity. The public is often looking towards a venerated character on to which they could latch on. This has always been the paradigm of leadership. We see it in Hollywood and we see them in reality shows. In alien movies, the leader takes the sole responsibility for speaking and deciding for the rest of humanity, sometimes in very sacrificial scenarios. The funny thing is that they never seem to land in Russia, China or India!

We’ve idolized the characters of Jack Welch, Tony Fernandes and even Donald Trump! What will happen when they’re gone? Have you ever considered that the closest thing that you have as a leader is your immediate boss? If you haven’t figured that out yet, then “You’re fired!”

Apple’s Tim Cook, being the competent manager he is, has never risen to the same levels of visionary charisma as Steve Jobs. He is just a different person. That does not mean that he is an insufficient leader. There seems to be a notion that managers are different from leaders but the truth of the matter is that leaders are more accessible than you think. We simply have to change our notions on what they are supposed to look like. Yes, if your boss has the power to fire you, he is your leader. What about the man or woman tasked to lead a project, is he not a leader as well? Of course he is! According to John Maxwell, “leadership is influence, no more, no less”.
This influence extends far beyond the realms of ethics, morality and principles. In the previous article I mentioned leaders must use their influence to garner resources (money, physical assets and human resources) to get the job done. Many times, you do not have to go as far as the CEO to be able make things move. Apart from the romantic notions, leaders have their more accessible and practical uses. This is the supply side of leadership.
On the demand side, we must appreciate that our expectations of leadership has a strong human perspective. Leaders and the people they lead are humans. While this may be stating the obvious, we need to realize that emotions define the human experience and so affects the way we look at our leaders and the way we latch on to them.

In John Fleming and Jim Asplund’s book “Human Sigma”, they defined a customer and brand experience essentially as an emotional experience with progressive levels of engagement called the “Four Dimensions of Emotional Attachment”. While the mental model was used in relation to employee and customer engagement, the same is true in the ways we look at leaders. Leaders also need to look at their employees as internal customers and ultimately, consumers of their leadership. The model progresses from Confidence, Integrity, Pride and Passion under the following description with some paraphrasing for our example.

CONFIDENCE: Always delivers on promise. Name I could trust
INTEGRITY: Fair resolution to any problems. Always treats me fairly
PRIDE: Treats me with respect. I feel proud to be a customer or employee
PASSION: I can’t imagine a world without this Perfect Company for people like me.

With the above example we could see how these human dimension could frame an emotional perception over brands and even our leaders. Developing a leadership brand could be drawn along the same progression from confidence to passion. With this framework, it is not difficult to understand how some leaders have such strong levels of following. This can only be attributed to the progressing levels of emotional engagement and attachment.
Conversely, we can also see that a failure to engage your employees as a leader, can lead to stale or waning influence over behavior. Behavior determines your team’s output and effectiveness. Employees and their emotions cannot be managed exclusively from each other. We work in a human environment with behaviors that are driven for the most part by emotion.
There is more to charismatic leadership than what meets the eye. Do you have a leadership brand that your employees or teammates can trust? Are they confident in your leadership approach? Are you delivering consistently on your promise as a leader? Use the Human Sigma as a model and take it step by step.