The inner leader’s helping role is like any other helping role. It is a task of providing followers what they need to be successful in their own terms, as well as those of the work community. Several elements of this helping relationship can be identified. Techniques for helping followers develop into their best selves involve all the techniques described in this resource. This brief review here of these developing-of-others techniques only previews more detailed and comprehensive skills included in the following chapters.
Frequent association with stakeholders in joint planning and decision making about many or most aspects of the common work is becoming a sine qua non of leadership in today’s changed workplace. This is especially true of leaders in the inner realms of the corporation. Inner leaders use new techniques of leadership, the specific elements of which included visioning, counciling others, and teaching. They also ask the leader to learn political negotiation skills to facilitate persuasion of growingly independent followers. These techniques operationalize values implicit in this theory. They define its technique and condition its success. And they determine the nature of leadership in the twenty-first century.
Helping followers do needed work is perhaps the best single method of helping them since participation in the work community developmentally engages members’ inner spiritual selves, as well as their physical and mental capacities (Braham, 1999). Inner leaders find ways to tap their coworkers’ need to exercise their whole selves and to increase their personal sense of responsibility through involvement. In this way group members come to recognize that their leaders really want and encourage them to make a full contribution of their capacities to the tasks set by the leader (Plas, 1996). Full involvement increases members’ sense of responsibility and ownership in the group and its results. It produces an atmosphere that welcomes challenge and encourages innovative input. Such a corporate culture is characterized by active listening and open discussion. It recognizes spirit and emotions as essential and equally needed along with intelligence, creativity, commitment, and expertise.
Participation is a core element in any work community that fosters ideas like core values, creativity, growth, individual maturation, and personal satisfaction. For many followers, participation has come to be almost a right (Plas, 1996). Advocates say work groups that emphasize participation have greater flow of ideas, solutions, and results. Inner leaders expend great energy and resources in building a community of like-minded people focused on common goals and values that celebrate individual and corporate contribution.
Rosenback, Pittman, and Potter (1997) say many followers are generally committed to high performance and building effective relationships with their leaders. They say followers can be divided into (1) those who do what they are told, (2) contributors who are known by the quality of their work, (3) politicians who manipulate their relationships, and (4) partners committed to high performance and effective relationships. Inner leaders help their followers become partners. Helping followers be partners asks these leaders to become experts in assisting coworkers participate to their fullest capacity.
The act of leadership takes place in these intimate helping contacts reiterated throughout the work-community hierarchy. Effective inner leaders ensure that their followers are comfortable in these intimate helping relationships. Essentially, the leader’s work is done face to face. It is helping individuals in specific, direct, and unique ways. The notion of leadership as a detached, impartial, objective controller of collectives of people is faulty. Inner leadership is personal and intimate. It deals with helping followers to change at their values core as well as in their routine behavior. This helping is seen in many small acts involving the leader and individual followers. A useful way to view inner leadership is as a series of intimate helping contacts.
In preparing to lead others, inner leaders first must search their inner selves and assess their environment to find values that they can share with followers and that will energize both leaders and followers alike. Once accepted, these values link group members into a focused unity, a community. That is, leaders can help followers most through shared adherence to accepted values with work-community members. Accordingly, they “sit in council with,” as opposed to “counsel” others. In counseling sessions, leaders direct and control the discussion and the outcomes agreed upon. “Counciling-with” (a coined term), on the other hand, finds the leader and followers in a relationship, with each member mutually able to direct the discussion and determine courses of action taken to attain shared values and agreed-upon outcomes. In doing this, the leader joins in common cause with stakeholders in the conduct of the community’s work. The personal skills and abilities needed for this kind of leader activity are unique—they ask the leader to think about and value stakeholders in unique ways and to develop skills that facilitate broad and independent follower actions.
Sitting in council with their followers is a critically important technique inner leaders learn as they help followers become their best selves. This development technique is, simply, making the effort to intimately involve stakeholders in what has been called leadership tasks. Just as leaders must learn to lead using this kind of joint-action approach, so too must followers be taught to accept the special responsibilities associated with joint accountability for the work community’s work. The approach asks followers to accept individual responsibility for the key decisions and actions taken by the community. No longer can they just let the leader take the burden alone. It asks leaders to be willing to let go of their “right to decide” and let followers do this traditionally leadership work.
Counciling-with describes a mutually affecting relationship in which both leader and followers engage in joint consultation, deliberation, and advice giving. The counciling-with relationship puts the leader and follower together on an equal, sharing basis. Both—either—may propose the agenda, present ideas and methods to solve work-community problems, or suggest new or altered program plans. Counciling-with relationships operationalize team concepts and are the mechanism for team leadership.
Counciling-with implies intimate association, close interaction, and mutual respect. It is a demonstration of the leader’s respect for individual stakeholders. It is also a specific technique that all followers must master. No longer can they merely seek and accept the leader’s counsel about a task at issue. Counseling is telling and advising. It is directive and totalitarian (managerial) in its essence. The leaders’ task is to teach followers to counsel them so that decisions can be made in a joint counciling session where both leader and led share decision making more or less equally. As inner leaders council-with their followers, they engage often in interactions where they consider each participant a partner in suggesting items for discussion, arguing for acceptance, and determining decisions. It is a definitional characteristic of inner leadership (Johnson, 1999).
This follower-development technique involves face-to-face contact with a wide variety of stakeholders, as much as possible at their work sites. As inner leaders learn to council-with their followers, they facilitate stakeholder involvement and personal and professional development without which neither followers nor the corporation can fully succeed. Learning themselves and then teaching followers to be comfortable in face-to-face relationships is another technique leaders must teach their followers.
Bennis (1982) and Gaertner and Gaertner (1985) see leader preparation as a kind of meaning making. They call it intention setting. Intention—often translated into a vision—focuses the work community and gives it meaning that ensures accomplishment. Leadership in this connection is a vision-setting activity. Building a vision, communicating that vision, and then acting on it are the benchmarks of inner leadership. They also assume creation and implementation of programs reflective of that vision (Barbour and Sipel, 1986). As leaders help followers understand the underlying meaning behind their common work, the work community and its members are assured of continuity and success.
Visioning is the leader task of focusing stakeholder attention on what is important. Visions come out of the personality and experience of the leader. Visioning is a personal aspect of leadership that sets the leader and his or her organization apart from any other leader or work community. Setting the vision, ensuring broad-based understanding, and living the vision in all work done is the hallmark of the values model of leadership.
Teaching followers is a fundamental leadership helping technique. It places prime responsibility on the leader for follower success. The leader becomes a teacher and coach of individual followers with the goal of changing them in their essential selves. This technique of helping others by educating or training them places emphasis on the role of the leader, not as goal-setter or controller but as instructor of others. Leaders need to teach new values, new skills followers need to use on the job, and the priority followers need to give to common tasks. This leader-as-teacher role permeates all that the leader does and all relationships entered into.
The sense of the discussion in the literature on leader skills is that leadership is a problem of ensuring coordinated activity. It depends more on the leader’s capacity to perceive the true nature of a situation, of the people, and of the communities of interest than it does his or her task expertise. Inner leaders learn to select the appropriate circumstances in which to introduce change. They are politically sensitive experts in office politics.
Inner leadership is a political, more than a technical, role. It concerns people, feelings, and relationships. Skill in creating and using formal relationships is less important than skill in diagnosis of the political surround. Data from the study of inner leadership in Virginia (Fairholm, 1991) confirm the applied character of leadership. It is immediate, intimate, and action oriented. It confirms that these political and socioanalytic skills will be valued more in this century than they were in the last one.
In the inner levels of corporate action, leaders accept the need to define the action situation, assess strengths of participants, and form them into a workable whole. The inner leader needs to be able to sense the nuances in relationships. He or she must be able to act to focus work community resources at the right time. These are political skills. Technical competence is not as important to successful inner leadership as are these political skills. Many of the skills of follower development are political skills, such as skill in negotiating support, developing coalitions, and engineering acceptance. An ability to assess the work situation along these lines is one of the critical skills both leader and follower must master. Inner leaders must also be expert in teaching organizational power politics to stakeholders (Fairholm, 1993).
Confident people are dependable, deserving of their colleagues’ confidence. They are predictable and stable. Followers will follow their leaders only as they prove they can be confided in. Interactive self-confidence is the basis for the quality of leader–follower relationships, perhaps the most important of all the challenges inner leaders face. Their leadership is keyed to the confidence they inspire in their followers. Followers must trust their leaders before they will follow them. Such relationships are empowering to both the leader and follower (Bennis, 1982). Demonstrating confidence is motivating, invigorating, and exciting. Gaining the maximum out of stakeholders only happens when they have confidence in their relationship with their leader. Securing that situation is part of the inner leader’s task of helping followers.
Bennis and Nanus (1985) describe leaders and followers in terms of maturity, that is, people with emotional wisdom. This maturity manifests itself in behaviors that accept people for who they are and try to approach people or problems in terms of the present (not the past). Emotionally mature leaders treat followers as adults even if risk is involved. Adults need scope, responsibility, and independence. They can also do without constant approval. Past theory and practice don’t describe this kind of leadership. Inner leaders are focused on broad-gauged concern for the people, as well as the programs led. They prioritize preparing people to be self-governing (Kulwiec, 2001).
Inner leadership is a balance between (1) ambition (power, fortune, profits), (2) competence (expertise, knowledge, training), and (3) conscience (ethics, values, ideals). The best way to identify and nurture these capacities is through experience in work-community settings. They are not individual, thoughtful skills but an active orientation toward leading. The individual matures them in the arena of work-community interaction.