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Leaders can’t work alone: Management lessons from Stanford GSB’s assistant dean

Envision, endeavour, engage, empower and entrust are the five E’s of leadership

education Updated: Apr 20, 2017 12:44 IST

What distinguishes a phenomenal leader? Working with emerging and established leaders throughout my career, I’ve concluded that leadership performance is strongly related to the number and types of behaviours leaders use to form strong relationships with those they want to influence.

Truly effective leaders initiate a wide range of diverse behaviours frequently, each falling into these five primary domains.

The five E’s of leadership

1.Envision. The first behavioural domain involves one’s ability to identify a future direction for the team or organisation. Strong leaders do this by uncovering new insights and opportunities, identifying critical issues, challenging assumptions and stimulating discussion among colleagues.

2.Endeavour. Strong leaders also set challenging goals and persist to achieve them. They anticipate and resolve problems, recognise and seize opportunities, take calculated risks and have the courage to say, “This is what we’re doing, and nothing will get in our way.”

3.Engage. What good is an idea without action? Leaders must influence others to act on their vision. That requires building coalitions, fostering a sense of mission and urgency, and individually tailoring communication.

4.Empower. Leaders can’t succeed alone. They develop their team’s capabilities and provide challenges, encouragement and support. In addition, they prioritise team development, recognise individual efforts and provide constant feedback.

5.Entrust. The last domain — building trust and respect — can be the most difficult and the most rewarding. This involves sharing your values, expressing humility and vulnerability, managing conflict and displaying gratitude — crucial for building a team that respects and follows you to the end.

Kirsten Moss (Handout)

Encouraging the five E’s of leadership

The strength of a leader, it turns out, coincides with the number and range of behaviours they exhibit. Truly phenomenal leaders — those who inspire and create lasting, positive impacts — use these behaviours four times as often as their typical counterparts.

These behaviours can develop naturally, but organisations should take steps to develop these behaviours in their current and emerging leaders. Getting 360-degree feedback from supervisors, peers, and subordinates can reveal how leaders are currently behaving and spotlight their untapped potential. Through encouraging leaders to experiment and broaden their behaviour toolkits, they can increase their effectiveness and impact.

Finally, my research showed that individuals who desire to solve a problem greater than themselves exhibit essential leadership behaviours more often. At the Stanford Graduate School of Business, we ask applicants to reflect on their personal values as part of the admissions process. Our multidisciplinary approach enables students pursue these interests both within the business school as well as at other Stanford graduate schools. And finally, our curriculum encourages students to experiment with developing new leadership behaviours within the classroom.

In the corporate world, as in the classroom, encouraging tomorrow’s leaders to develop the five E’s of leadership behaviour can create a significant and lasting impact.

The author is Stanford GSB assistant dean and director of MBA admissions and financial aid