Guest post by Joan Bragar, EdD
“Whatever you can do, or believe you can, begin it. Boldness has genius power and magic in it!
–Attributed to Goethe in William Hutchinson Murray,
The Scottish Himalayan Expedition
Is there something you care deeply about accomplishing? Will you need to lead others to achieve this outcome? Whether or not you currently think of yourself as a leader, would you benefit from learning how to influence others to collaborate in achieving the results you have envisioned?
There are five essential practices you can use to lead others to accomplish the results you most care about. As we apply the practices, we learn to shift our awareness about our impact in the world. We move from feeling that “the world is happening to me” to a perception that “I am happening to the world.” This shift occurs through the process of seeing clearly a future that we want to create, involving others in analyzing the obstacles, and then committing to the actions needed to bring that future into reality.
The five practices for leading for results are:
- Knowing your purpose
- Envisioning a better future
- Clarifying your challenge
- Aligning your stakeholders
- Learning and adapting to change
Notice that these practices are all named using gerunds—verb-based nouns ending in “ing” that express ongoing actions. As such they show that leading is a continuously evolving process. We don’t come once and for all to know our purpose. We are continually becoming aware of knowing what our purpose is. Similarly, we don’t adapt to change once and for all. To be effective we are constantly adapting to change.
I learned the value of practices, or “sets of behaviors that contribute to an outcome,” as a way of teaching leadership development while working at the global business-training firm The Forum Corporation, headquartered in Boston. In my work there I researched and validated the practices of high-performing managers when they were most effective at leading and influencing others.
For the past twenty-five years I have used these practices in designing leadership programs for two arenas: global multinational corporations and public health ministries in some the poorest countries in the world. In my work with business managers in industrialized countries and health managers in impoverished countries, I have been struck by the extraordinary commitment and resourcefulness that people draw on to improve their conditions, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
The practices have been proven effective, not only in leading others to achieve results, but also in enabling individuals to lead their lives. You can read about the practices and engage in reflections and exercises to develop your capabilities in my book, Leading for Results. I’ve witnessed people in countries from Afghanistan to Tanzania, who, with few resources other than their hearts and their minds, who have learned to lead.
I have found again and again that when people have a clear image of what they want to achieve, and have a process for overcoming the obstacles they face, they can achieve results far beyond their expectations. I invite you to use these practices to manifest your own purpose and change the world for the better, one result at a time.
Dr. Bragar is an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor at Boston University School of Public Health where she teaches leading for results in public health to masters and doctoral-level students. She served as Academic Director for the Leading High Performing Healthcare Organizations program at Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya and has taught leadership at medical and nursing schools in Egypt and Uganda.
She is the lead author of an award-winning book, Managers who Lead- A Handbook for Improving Health Services. In 2015 she published Leading for Results. She holds a Doctorate in Education from Harvard University.
The Product Management Perspective: The principles discussed here apply to product managers. Because you do not (typically) manage the teams that build your products, you need to find ways to motivate them, align their work and get commitments to you’re your products to market.