Ngee Ann Sec NCC Unit
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 Take a nonlinear approach

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Staff Sergeant
Staff Sergeant

Number of posts : 456
Age : 25

Take a nonlinear approach Empty
PostSubject: Take a nonlinear approach   Take a nonlinear approach Empty10th January 2009, 10:43

Warfare through the 1700s to the middle of the 19th century was characterized by two groups of soldiers marching in rows straight toward each other. Not until the American Revolution did soldiers begin hiding behind trees and lying on the ground to avoid being easy targets. This was an entirely different type of war. We propose a similarly radical approach to developing leadership skills.

If you were to decide to improve a leadership skill, such as your level of technical expertise, you might examine your current performance and determine a list of actions, such as:
  1. Sign up for a class.
  2. Attend professional workshops.
  3. Read technical/professional journals.
  4. Read the latest books in the technical/professional field.
  5. Broaden your network/ask for coaching or mentoring on specific topics.

This tactic is a classic, linear, frontal assault. This plan plots a straight line from where you are to where you want to be. It is extremely logical and characteristic of many people's propensity to identify a challenge, put their heads down, and run straight at it full force. Our claim is that linear plans work best for people moving from poor performance to good performance. However, moving people from good to great is best accomplished with a nonlinear approach.

Let's examine what a nonlinear path might look like. As we have mentioned previously, certain leadership skills are linked together as what we call “competency companions”. We propose that the best way to make improvements in one skill is sometimes to make improvements in the competency companion skill, not the targeted skill itself.

For example, if you wanted to develop greater technical competence, you could focus directly on improving that skill, but you might have more success with improving your technical competence if you focus on its “competency companion” which is interpersonal skills. Robert Kelly found evidence for the usefulness of this nonlinear approach in his research on the most productive scientists at Bell Labs. The most competent scientists did not end up being those with the highest IQ or most knowledge. They were the ones who used interpersonal skills to get their work done. They helped colleagues, showed concern, asked others for ideas, and gave others credit.

To benefit from a nonlinear approach:

Change your mindset: The best way to improve in one area may be to ignore it! Instead, you may do better to focus on a related area of improvement.

Build your awareness of competency companions: You will need to know which skills are interrelated in people's minds as characteristics of effective leaders.

Savor the side effects: Developing competency companions can change a person. Just as learning to play golf gives you increased confidence, so strengthening a competency can change your perspective and outlook on life, making you more effective in many areas.
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