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Leadership Style # 7 – The Track-Record Leader - (Post 8 in a series of 10)

What is the most efficient form of leadership?

The most efficient form of leadership is Track-Record Leadership. When a leader has a reputation for consistent success, and has the history to back it up, he/she will have a much, much, much easier time creating a following. When you've got track-record the "proof is in the pudding" and the pudding is known by everybody to be delicious. When the Track-Record leader speaks, people follow. They follow because they know the Track-Record leader has a history of getting things done and getting things done right.

Track record: noun – A record of achievements or performance.

Track-Record Leadership is an interesting and exciting study. Track-Record Leadership represents the most challenging of leadership titles to acquire, but also some of the most important foundational components of leadership development and effective leadership. Track-Record Leadership is based in strength of personal or team reputation.

On the difficult side, it requires time, risk, and a history of successes across the initial six styles to begin to develop Track-Record status. As the number, size, and scope of successes increase for the leader, the strength of their track record will increase as well. As the strength of their track record increases, so too will their ability to influence others and create a dedicated, confident, and loyal team following.

On the easier side of things, a track record is one of the most powerful following creation tools you can employ. Track-Record Leadership requires reputation, and a sterling reputation can mean a much easier time convincing others to follow. This is true for both the individual and for the organization. When an organization has a proven history of success and is being led by people with track record then you have a very potent platform to work from.

Crossing Over to the Other Leadership Styles

It is important to point out that the more crossover the Track-Record Leader has related to the first six styles of leadership, the stronger their track record will become. Thus, each of the previously described six leaders should attempt to create a track record of success in their particular area of focus and in their other complementary styles. For example:

  • The Ethos Leader must have a history of making strong character decisions or communicating strong character and values-based messages. This is their track record.
  • The Knowledge Leader must have a long history of situations where their knowledge or skills proved to be exemplary. This is their track record.
  • The Vision Leader must have a demonstrable track record of prognostication to maximize their perception of truly being a visionary. This is their track record.
  • The Operational Leader must have a history of developing and executing successful strategic plans that have produced results. This is their track record.
  • An Emotional Leader must have a history of successfully inspiring, motivating and energizing people and teams. This is their track record.
  • The Intrepid Leader must have a history of stepping forward and accepting challenges or dealing with crises. This is their track record

These examples might sound simple, but it is important to recognize and truly understand what track record actually means. It means having a reputation based in success. It means having examples of success to back up a case or an idea. Having the ability to point to a resume or history of successful endeavors can be one of the most influential and powerful of leadership tools of all.

The Power of the Track Record

It is also important to point out that a leader’s track record continues to strengthen as the number of instances increases. For example, a Operational Leader who has successfully developed and executed 50 strategic plans might have a stronger track record than the Operational Leader who has only done it once or twice. This, of course, all depends on how big the plans were, and how public the story has been communicated and conveyed.

Track record is one of the most powerful factors associated with making leadership an easier undertaking. Research studies have shown that a track record or history of past success is one of the primary reasons a team member or other constituent will choose to enthusiastically follow a leader. People tend to put their faith in a person’s past performance, and track record is the driver of that type of leadership. Performance and track record of success of experiences can give team members a great sense of confidence and will increase their willingness to follow.

Mistakes Can Damage a Track Record Very Quickly

A big mistake to avoid when leveraging the powers of Track-Record Leadership is to become complacent and assume that track record will do it all. Track record is something that is never complete as it can always be added to and subtracted from. Track record is also very easily damaged, and in fact, many team members will focus on a leader’s known failures before celebrating their many successes. It is important for leaders to bring the same level of focus to their current assignment that they brought to their very first. Of course, as they become more and more successful they will delegate many responsibilities but the project at hand will still be logged as part of their track record whether it is a success or failure. They must protect their track record with great zeal and pride.

As leaders continue to move up within their organization they must delegate more and more of their leadership responsibilities. It is critical and essential for the leader to take this talent acquisition and talent development responsibility very seriously. They must recognize that their track record will be affected and impacted by the positive and/or negative performance of the people they surround themselves with.

For example, if a leader is to hire a team of supporting leaders who lack character or engage in, for example, unethical practices these instances will reflect negatively on their own track record as an Ethos Leader. If their leaders lack knowledge, miss the mark on a future prediction, fail to develop or execute a strategy, do not inspire the emotion of their people or fail to step up to meet an important challenge their own personal track record and personal brand will be damaged. Leaders must surround themselves with other leaders who share these same characteristics.

To summarize; track record can be difficult to develop but once it is developed it can be one of the easiest methods for creating buy-in and, ultimately, a strong following. Track record must be continuously developed and protected at all costs. Performance and results are measured and valued above all else.

Historical Example of the Track Record Leader – Warren Buffett

Referred to as the “Sage” or “Oracle” of Omaha, Warren Buffett is widely viewed as one of the most successful investors in history. Buffett is a value investor and his company Berkshire Hathaway is basically a holding company for his investments. Major holdings he has had at some point include Coca-Cola, American Express, and Gillette.

Following the principles set out by Benjamin Graham, he has amassed a personal multibillion-dollar fortune mainly through investing in stocks and buying companies through Berkshire Hathaway. Shareholders in Berkshire Hathaway who invested $10,000 in the company in 1965 are above the $50 million mark today.

Critics predicted an end to his success when his conservative investing style meant missing out on the dotcom bull market. Of course, he had the last laugh after the dotcom crash because, once again, Buffett’s time tested strategy proved successful.

Now in his 70s, Buffett has yet to write a single book, but among investment professionals and the investing public, there is no more respected voice.

In 2006, Buffett announced that he would pledge much of his reported $44 billion in stock holdings to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ($31 billion) and four other charities ($6 billion) started by members of his family. - Source:Investopedia

Track-Record Leader Summary Highlights

Philosophy: Track record might be the easiest way to create buy-in and a following. It is incredibly important to build, protect, and communicate a strong track record of leadership and success.

Mistakes to Avoid: Becoming complacent and/or entrusting your track record to the wrong people.

Best Practices: Try to develop a track record across all of the leadership styles. Be sure to perform routine checks on your track record to see where it stands from a personal brand standpoint. Communicate your track record to those you wish to influence by sharing stories of successful past projects and experiences. The more examples of success you have the stronger your track record will be.

Questions Track-Record Leaders Commonly Ask Themselves: The following is a list of questions commonly considered by the Track-Record Leader:

  • What are my track-record strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the next two or three big steps forward for my track record?
  • To what degree do my teammates know about and understand my track record?
  • What are my teammates’ track records and how do they reflect on me?
  • Is my leadership track record concentrated in too few areas?
  • How can I accelerate the quality of my track record?
  • What opportunities are presented because of this track record?
  • What is our organizational track record, and how do we leverage it?
  • How can I help develop team member track records?

Other Historical Examples: College Basketball Coach Pat Summit, Songwriter Carole King

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