Fast forward to the day you step down from your post. How will you be remembered by those left to continue the work? Will your name be thought of fondly, or will people be cheering your departure?

A leader’s legacy depends on how those who follow think about leadership. Likewise, it depends on what they value in a leader. Like an Olympic athlete, your job is to make the most difficult of tasks look easy and graceful. At least that’s what people want, but this is a tall order, says Scott Allen, Ph.D., assistant professor of management, Department of Management, Marketing and Logistics, Boler School of Business, John Carroll University.

“On what are you being judged?” says Allen. “In actuality, leadership is in the eye of the beholder. However, there are some leaders who rise above the rest and truly stand out. This is not magic, nor are people born with it. It boils down to five core elements, which make up a ‘leadership scorecard’ of sorts. Great leaders – the Olympians – have succeeded in five core areas, which I call the 5 Ps: personal attributes, position, purpose, processes and product.”

Smart Business spoke with Allen about the 5 Ps and the best practices of leaders.

What are the personal attributes of a leader’s scorecard?

These are your traits, knowledge, values, skills and abilities. Are you credible? Ethical? Trustworthy? Intelligent? A ‘no’ on any of these will be a difficult pill for many to swallow. People may not know what you know, but they know how you make them feel. So in many ways, personal attributes are all about what you bring to the role. Of course, each one of us brings great strengths and areas for development. The question is, do you have an eye on both, and who is providing you with unfiltered feedback?

How do you use the position of leader?

Is your power used to develop and build others? Or are you perceived as an individual who hoards his or her information and power? Likewise, do you use the position and your authority in a consistent manner, or do you play favorites, lack consistency and abuse your discretion?

How does the leader’s purpose answer the question, ‘Leadership for what?’

Leaders are clearly aligned around a cause or purpose and influence others to follow. Another way to think about purpose is strategy. Is your vision and the strategy behind it one that motivates and resonates with others? Some leaders inspire a shared vision and have the ability to manage that vision into reality. Others fail to inspire the troops. Think about the last time you spoke to, the masses – did they leave energized? Did you?

What practices/processes does a leader use?

The practices/processes of leadership describe how you achieve your purpose and how you move the group, organization, or community from point A to point B. For instance, is your style a democratic one where many feel a part of the endeavor, or is it coercive and autocratic?

What is the end product?

Some wonder if the success or failure of the leader can be determined prior to knowing the final result. In the end, people will determine if they feel that they are better off because of your efforts. Has your time been filled with growth, innovation, and exciting ventures? Or, have your efforts failed to achieve desired results?

Why do all five Ps matter in leadership?

As a leader, you and your senior team need to have an eye on each one of these items. You may have great success and three of the five, but fail in two, and the result is that you are not perceived as a strong leader or leadership team. For instance, you could have the first four Ps in place but lack results and suddenly your job is in jeopardy. Likewise, you could have the last four Ps in place but be perceived as unethical, untrustworthy, and unapproachable. Again, your legacy is tarnished. Just think of all the CEOs and politicians who struggled with one or more of the 5 Ps. Who stands out from your own career? Who did all five well? Who did not and how did it impact their career?

How do you better manage your legacy and ensure that each of the 5 Ps are well balanced?

First, have the 5 Ps on your radar and critically analyze your current state. How are you perceived, how do you use your position, how do you inspire a vision, and do you have systems in place to ensure results? An open and honest conversation between you and your team will likely reveal a great deal. If this culture does not exist, build it.

Next, develop outlets and access to unfiltered feedback. You may not always agree with the feedback you hear, but at least you have a pulse on how you, your vision and your team are perceived. If you are viewed as a person open to positive and negative feedback, you will have access to more information. However, if you are perceived as a person who holds grudges, or responds negatively or even abrasively, then it is likely people will avoid sharing information and honest feedback.

Finally, implementing a simple continuous improvement cycle where you and your team can receive feedback/coaching, gauge progress, identify gaps, and then adjust can take you to the next level of leadership.

Monitoring the 5 Ps will create buyin for your vision, develop trust in you as a leader, ignite employee enthusiasm and productivity, solidify your legacy as a leader and create a system of continuous leadership improvement within your organization. Leaders have a responsibility to help create a culture that is engaging, innovative, and productive. Isn’t that where you would like to work?

Scott Allen, Ph.D., is assistant professor of Management, Department of Management, Marketing, and Logistics, Boler School of Business at John Carroll University. Reach him at sallen@jcu.edu.

Published in Cleveland
Wednesday, 02 March 2011 12:30

How Intelimedix builds customer communities

Joel Portice sees one problem with meetings: You have to be there. The president and CEO of Intelimedix LLC, a company that provides predictive health care analytics, thinks that’s too restrictive.

So when Portice created advisory groups of Intelimedix customers — who are health plan providers — as sounding boards for needs and opportunities, he leveraged their collective knowledge by blowing the doors off the boardroom.

“Rather than just relying on set meetings where everybody has to be there and if you’re not there, you’re not participating, it’s open 24/7,” says Portice, who has 50 employees. “What we’re saying is: Take away the physicality of this and make it digital. Our view was [that] to digitize the meetings would help promote participation and sharing and use.”

That was the inspiration behind Tru:Connect, an online platform for communities of customers to share experiences and best practices.

The first key to building customer communities is staying on the sidelines.

“If a vendor comes in and dominates the discussion, then it becomes just a big sale session,” Portice says. “If we are encouraging the conversation and helping to create discussion topics and engaging the participants, then that’s going to keep them further involved.”

Facilitate conversations by asking for problems and issues, then let your customers take it from there.

“The biggest way to get the feedback and to get the participation is having them lead it,” Portice says. “We think about it from the perspective of: You’re going to lead discussions. You’re going to lead the identification of things you want to address. They’re your ideas. We’re going to help you monetize those ideas.”

You step into an active role later by identifying and validating ideas that bubble up through the community.

“We’re involved to help synthesize the issue,” Portice says. “If the issue’s coming in different words or it’s being articulated different ways from five different perspectives, it’s our job to really understand what the issue is and synthesize that for everybody so there’s a single view of what we’re trying to achieve.”

Once you’re clear on the key issues, confirm they are issues you and your customers can solve.

“It really is about understanding our circle of influence,” Portice says. “As we’re looking at things, we have to be very honest with ourselves and with our customers as to not only what we can do but what we should do. If it’s going to be shared across a lot of our customers, then it’s going to be worth our effort.”

To turn feedback into strategic business moves, position yourself behind the problems with the broadest influence. Examine the scope of the problem and of the potential solution by questioning other customers.

“We’ll look and say, ‘Is this a persistent issue? And if that issue were resolved, what does that mean to the users? How does that benefit them?’” he says. “It’s really understanding: Is it really an issue, what kind of a lift does it provide the customers if the issue is resolved [and then] what does it take to do that? Is it repeatable and ongoing or is it just a one-time deal?”

Online communities not only identify needs and opportunities for your business, but they also create loyal customers — after all, they’re benefiting, as well, by learning and leveraging best practices from others on issues that matter to them.

“The core issue here that’s underlying all of this is listening to the customers and listening to the market,” Portice says. “You see a lot of companies that try to pursue and develop things that are interesting and cool to them rather than saying, ‘What is it that the market is really feeling the pain with, and how can we help that?’”

How to reach: Intelimedix LLC, www.intelimedix.com

Stay selective

Joel Portice wants feedback from his customers, but he knows better than to throw open the floodgates. When the president and CEO of Intelimedix launched Tru:Connect, an online community for customers, he did so with limits.

“The information is compartmentalized based on the specific areas that we’re covering,” he says. “Somebody who connects to Tru:Connect — no pun intended — for analytic reporting, they’re not seeing what’s going on in the Tru:Connect that’s dealing with cost containment or the Tru:Connect that’s dealing with fraud detection. You’re part of a community on a specific issue.”

Of course, one customer may participate in several groups but only after agreeing to some terms to ensure that nobody is hijacking the output for their own purpose.

Portice monitors each customer’s engagement, contacting idle participants as a warning and a way to keep the group rich.

“If somebody’s not engaging, then we will reach out to them and say, ‘We need to make room for somebody else because this time is too valuable for everybody,’” he says.

That keeps participation high, and the selectivity even entices customers who aren’t involved.

“We want to make it useful,” Portice says. “But we also want to make it a little selective because it keeps the folks involved engaged. It also sparks opportunities for people that may not be involved to say, ‘I want to create my own subgroup.’”

Published in Orange County