Fragmented and Compartmentalized or Connected and Aligned for Impact?

Circle of Impact

The Circle of Impact is designed to show how the Three Dimensions of Leadership work together.  It is a picture of connection and alignment that leads to impact.

Unfortunately, most of us don't think this way.

Our thinking is often fragmented, compartmentalize, lacking in meaningful connection and alignment. 

It was only through conversations with people where we were trying to sort through this fragmented, compartmentalized picture that the Circle of Impact came into being.

It could have been a long or brief conversation about a specific problem or something quite general and obscure, regardless, the issue had one of three origins.

Either it was an Idea problem, which could either be characterized as a thinking problem or a communication one.

Or, it was a Relationship problem, due to either a personality conflict, a difference in values or the lack of personal engagement.

Or it was an Organizational Structure problem, related to issues of governance, program, operations or resources. Later, it became clear that the Social Structure of an organization also can be setting for these kinds of problems.

In this week's Weekly Leader column - The Subversiveness of Gratitude, I write about the importance of connection.

What we are discovering, and the practice of gratitude is showing, is that truth is not in the discrete, isolated parts, but in their connection to one another. On a human scale, this means that our identity is not our position, title or place in a system, but rather the function that we have in connection. Collaboration and shared responsibility is the ground for understanding who I am within any social and organizational setting. The connection between the parts is where the action is, and the organization lives.

What is the connection between the Three Dimensions?

Ideas are the tools for connection.

Social and Organizational Structures are the settings.

Relationships are where connections are made, and the action is.

The Ideas that matter in helping people make connections are Purpose or Mission, Values, Vision and Impact. If there is a hierarchy of importance, it is found with Values. Our conception (Idea) of our Purpose or Mission, our Vision and definition of Impact are formed by our Values.

For example, my Mission is to help individuals discover and act upon a purpose for their life and work. The ideas that give meaning to my purpose are values centered in human purpose, potential and impact.

It is also true that social and organization structures are tangible expressions of the values that are either intentionally determined or become the default values through inattention. Those values maybe about order, productivity, respect, trust or integrity. Or they may focused on wealth creation or personal freedom. Whatever the values are, they are the ideological foundation for these structures. They are seen in the effect or impact of the structure on the people who work wihtin the organization.

The three dimensions are not equal, but complementary. Look again at the Circle of Impact picture.

Purpose is an idea that is connected to Structure. The key focus here is to align the structure with the purpose of the organization. Without that alignment, the organization works a cross-purposes with itself.

Vision is an idea that is connected to both Relationships and Structure.  The focus here is a picture of activity showing what it is like for people working within the structure of the organization to achieve the desire impact. 

Ultimately, what this means is that leaders are not interested in ideas just for the sake of the ideas themselves. They aren't interested in having healthy relationships just because their values say they should. And, they aren't interested in structure just because it is needed for a business to function. 

Instead, leaders are looking for ways to utilize Ideas to strengthen Relationships and inform how the Structure of the organization can be aligned with the company's Mission or Purpose.

The Impact of the Three Dimensions of Leadership should be better communication, collaboration and coordination.

Collaboration, Motivation & Leadership - Weekly Leader Posts and Podcasts

It has been sometime since I linked my Weekly Leader posts and podcasts.


Interview with Dan Pink on Motivation (Drive:The Surprising Truth About What  Motivates Us)

Organizing Grassroots Leadership Events


Is Showing Up Enough?

The Experience That Matters

The 5 C's of Lessons In Leadership

The Structure Question

The 7 Virtues of a 21st century organization

You can find more here. Thank you for taking time to read them.

Transition Points and Space

This week's Weekly Leader column - Living in Transition Space - looks at a different way of understanding change. Transition Points-Space
Instead of thinking of change as simply disruptive, we should look at it as a transition process. Our natural tendency will be to focus on the transition point. However, we typically living in the transition space between those junctures of change.

I'm convinced that the frequency of these transition points are going to increase. As a result, we need to develop new ways of approach our work as organizational leaders. This is what the column addresses this week.

Work Life Lead @ Weekly Leader

Over at Weekly Leader, I've chosen to alternate my weekly Leadership Q&A column Work-life balance with a new series called Work Life Lead. The purpose is to address those issues that bridge the fine line between our personal and professional lives.

The first WLL column was The Thinning Live between Work and Life.

Yesterday's column, The Conversation Key, touches on how we can do a better job of communicating both at work and at home.

All my columns at Weekly Leader may be access through the Leadership Q&A category.

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In the beginning there were ... Questions

Today marks the beginning of a writing adventure that has been one of the highlights of my life.

On June 27, 2004, my first Real Life Leadership column - Questions can put a business on the path greater things -  was published in the Asheville Citizen Times. My purpose was to write a leadership question and answer column, sort of a "Dear Abby for Leaders." I wrote in that first column,

Questions drive growth.  If we feel inadequate, we ask questions about why or how do I become more effective.  If an unexpected set back occurs, we ask, “What did I not see?  Where did this come from?  How do I recover?”  If we are presented with a new opportunity, we ask, “Is this the right step?  Am I ready for a change?  What do I need to do first?” 


Questions open up our minds to what is hidden and the possibilities for the future.  They enhance our communication with others.  They resolve conflict.

Five years later, here's what I've learned.

Questions are more important than the answers.

Acting on what we learn is the only way the answers matter.

Life is a journey of exploration, discovery, learning and aspiration fueled by the questions we ask.

We touch far more peoples' lives that we'll ever know.

Gratitude is the reward for making a difference.

Real Life Leadership reached the end of its life this past winter. Today, Leadership Q&A has begun at the online journal Weekly Leader to carry the RLL purpose to a wider audience with a different format.

Your questions and comments matter to me. I'm listening and will continue to try to discern the deeper issues that drive our quest to be the best leaders we can be. It is a coincidence that quest and question are from the same root. 

Thank you all very much for reading over the years.

Conversation about Crisis Management and Issue Resolution

Welcome Twitter followers and Weekly Leader readers.

Every leader is a crisis manager.
Is it necessary?
What can be done to make things different?

This is the topic of my next Leaders Q&A column at Weekly Leader.

Let me know you thoughts and questions about  how leaders can do a better job of issue resolution.

Leave you ideas in the comments section. Thanks very much.