As far back as 2006, it feels like a century, I developed a frame of Leadership that could help understand the topic from several angles, which I called faces. In fact the model, and the book, was called The Leader with Seven Faces. The primary goal was to avoid ourselves to see leadership from the perspective of ‘one face’ only, for example, what leaders say. I pointed out at that time that some leaders are very visible on what they say but less on what they actually do, or vice versa.
Today, the model has developed into a full Leadership Coaching one, individual and group, and a Leadership Retreat, and the Faces have been validated time after time.
- What leaders say. The issue of their language, what they say and what people hear, perhaps not the same. The meaning and intention of the language used. And I referred, for example, to the ‘invitational’ language of Jesus Christ, versus the ‘factual, bullet point corporate language.
- Where leaders go. And take people with them. Here the topic of destinations (or lack of), journeys and having or not a good map. The leader in this face appears a bit like a Cartographer
- What leaders build. How leaders build spaces and protect time. How they build ‘homes’ to belong, or to long for. And, of course, the key issue of legacy: what do leaders leave behind, and whether that matters
- What leaders care about. Here is the area of values and non negotiable. And how deep we need to go, beyond words.
- How leaders do it. The ‘how’ is a question of style, but not in the sense of individual personalities, but more on the styles of bringing people along. For example, a race? A constant race” A pack? A marathon? I draw analogies from running (jogging) in solitary, or in group.
- What leaders are. With emphasis on the ‘what’, as in what kind of beast. There are three topics: awareness, responsibility and identity. This is the ‘what’ in the sense of the Jewish ‘Book of the Fathers’: ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?. It’s the what!
- What leaders actually do. The focus here in on role modelling, change ability and the overall practicing of the seven faces.
The Seven Faces allows us to project ourselves in different ways, and to reflect on which of them are overgrown or underdeveloped. In fact The Leaders with Seem Faces is cartography in itself with a multitude of questions, not a list of answers.
Nine years later, my temptation has been to ‘retire it’. But the little epidemic of lack of reflection that we suffer, and the abundance of ready-made beautiful answers to what sometimes feel like irrelevant questions, has convinced me that, in this area, we have just started.