Vision, Alignment, Execution – how good are you at these three essential leadership skills?

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What skills does it take for an executive to lead an organization effectively?
While I don’t think there is one answer to that question, the assessment DiSC Work of Leaders is a good start. The DiSC folks have put together a useful assessment that measure multiple key aspects of leadership under the categories of Vision, Alignment and Execution.

You may be surprised by your results, I was! Some of the qualities that make me a good entrepreneur, don’t make me a good leader. Read on to find out more.

First of all, there are 9 types of leaders that are identified by your specific DiSC style, so this assumes you already know what your DiSC style is. If you are unsure of your DiSC style, you can contact us at to take an official Everything DiSC assessment which range in price from $65 to $95.

For those of you who know your style, the leadership styles are as follows:

D = Commanding
Di/iD = Pioneering
I = Energizing
iS/Si = Affirming
S = Inclusive
SC/CS = Humble
C = Objective
CD/DC = Resolute

Of course when we look at Vision, Alignment and Execution, your skill is going to vary based on your personality style and where you have growth your strengths.

Let’s look at Vision first. The skill of Crafting a Vision requires 3 strengths.

1. Exploration – which includes remaining open and prioritizing the big picture.
2. Boldness – which includes being adventurous and speaking out.
3. Testing assumptions – which includes seeking counsel and exploring implications.

So, there are six qualities that are measured under the skill of Crafting a Vision. I think of myself as visionary, and I scored high on four of the measures and medium on one, but I also scored low in one of the six qualities, which was exploring implications. As a Di, I am Pioneering and fast paced and I can make decisions quickly, without exploring implications. My assessment says, “you have a tendency to jump right into a project, and you may not always take the time to explore the implications by carefully examining your ideas.” Guilty as charged.

As leaders, we can’t be good at everything, which is why it is important to have a team around us to balance out our weak spots. Chances are, if you are like me, you have someone working with you who says, wait a minute, have we thought that through before we take action? While this kind of challenge might be frustrating to someone who is fast paced, it helps us make better, more thought through decisions.

Let’s move on to an overview of Alignment. In order to be masterful at creating alignment on our teams, we have to be good at the following.

1. Clarity – which includes explaining rationale and structuring messages.
2. Dialogue – which includes exchanging perspectives and being receptive.
3. Inspiration – which includes being expressive and being encouraging.

I can already tell by the descriptions that I am not going to score as highly on Alignment. I have worked with many executives who also don’t score as well on the alignment category. The reason is mainly this: Many executives are fast paced and don’t take the time to explain their rationale and structure their messaging consistently. Especially if you have a lot of Influence in your personality style, your tendencies are probably going to be like mine – to offer your “gut” sense or intuition instead of explaining your rationale. Also, you might use impromptu messaging instead of structured messaging.

One CEO I worked with mostly offered impromptu messaging. While they were great at thinking quickly on their feet, the downfall was that the message was not consistent and the team was left frequently feeling confused by conflicting messages. The remedy for this may not seem natural to your style, but it is to carefully craft your message to be consistent over time.

Finally, we have Execution, which means bringing a vision into reality. The three parts of Execution are:

1. Momentum, which includes being driven and initiating action.
2. Structure, which includes providing a plan and analyzing in-depth.
3. Feedback, which includes addressing problems and offering praise.

I would say that most of the executives we work with are good at being driven and initiating action – which are fast paced D/I qualities. Providing a plan and analyzing in-depth are going to be strengths of a C or Objective leader (the opposite of my forte!). The one thing I also want to address as important is offering praise. This might be surprising to find this as a strength under Execution, but your teams need praise as they are in the execution phase a project. If most of what they are hearing is what is not working, people quickly become demotivated. Most of the leaders we work with need to work on balancing out positive feedback with looking at what is not working. Most D and C leaders have a tendency to look at what is NOT working so they, or their teams can fix it!

The feedback from the Everything DiSC Work of Leaders says, “if you don’t positively reinforce good behavior, people are less likely to be motivated, loyal and engaged.” I have even heard it said that people need a balance of 4x the amount of positive feedback to critical feedback, since we often dwell on and remember the critical feedback more.

We encourage you to look at your strengths and challenges as a leader. Indeed, we coach the leaders we work with to walk their talk and be role models for a positive workplace culture.

We provide Boulder and Denver Leadership Development Training.

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