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  • Jonn Kares

The Essential 4 Inner VIPs on Your Future-Building Team

In two excellent blog posts from a few years back, Organizational Psychologist Liane Davey describes an observation from the many companies she has worked with about how Executive Leadership Teams (ELTs) are top-heavy with Doers, with maybe a few Dreamers, but next to no Planners or Influencers

4 Critical Parts of Any Self-Leader

She makes plain the impact this has not only on the effectiveness of the ELT, but more significantly on the overall functioning of the organization as a whole from the unavoidable personal conflicts that ensue downstream from the missing contributions of the profile types not represented in Senior Leadership. She describes the biases that seem to systematically keep the Planners and Influencers out of the C-Suite.

The two profile types most in evidence, Doers and a few Dreamers, are naturally selected because their areas of interest are easily observable and can be quickly understood by anyone. And Doers need Dreamers to inspire action toward the new, but they can be at loggerheads because the Doer is focused on doing stuff right now, not on some vague and shifting possible future.

But as as for the other two missing components, Planners are outcasts because they are the ones tasked with figuring out how to make dreams real with the available resources. Easily nicknamed "Dream-stealers", they seem bogged down in details, asking unwelcome difficult questions, and pointing out unrecognized gaps standing in the way.

And then there's the Influencers. Without these "grape-vine" communicators, all others in the organization, i.e.; the people having to do the actual work together to make initiatives happen, are all left in the dark about why it all matters or how it's connected to purpose, both their's and the organization's. The work of Influencers used to be done by those middle-manager types, "managing by walking around", out-placed decades ago by flattened organizational reorgs.

I want to take a bit of licence and extend Liane's four-profile ELT model to the realm of individual SELF-Leadership, and suggest you take a look at how your areas of predisposition within your make up might map to these four profiles. You too, like ELTs, might also be top-heavy with being a Doer, inspired by a Dreamer, with an absent Planner and an absent Influencer.


The fact is, just like any effective organization, to be an effective Self-Leader you need all four of these VIPs "Very Important Persons" within you present, active, and interacting all the time to be building the futures you want realized.

You've no doubt got Doing and Dreaming down pat. And you know the nitty-gritty of Planning is best left to dedicated planners outside of yourself whose expertise you respect, listen to, and allow yourself to be advised by. 

It's the Influencer role, though, that often gets mis-applied. In the outer world, there's a tendency to think it's just about "telling and selling". No wonder. You've reached a conclusion and the most immediately obvious way to get others on board is to convince them they, too, should come to that conclusion. But the only way they ever get to grasp that point of view is to understand the journey that brought you there. It's making those stories come alive that is the Influencer's day-to-day job. Paradoxically, often by asking questions. More on that in another blog post.

The Influencer role also can also be misguided in the inner world, but in a different way. Building desired futures requires your inner Doer, Dreamer and Planner to all harmoniously be working together. The Influencer VIP's job is keeping all the other members of your Inner Leader quartet all singing from the same songbook. Which incidentally is what powerful coaching conversations make happen.

If you haven't yet had the experience of a powerful coaching conversation, you really should try it. And get a brighter view of how well the Essential 4 VIPs on your inner future-building team work together.

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