June 7, 2013

The Harmonic Leader: Stage 5 of 5 in the Leadership Tonic Scale

The Leadership Tonic Scale identifies and defines five types of leadership styles found in today’s organization. This is the fifth of those five types. 


The Harmonic Leader

In my book Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization I highlight a scenario I call “Crossing the Leadership Chasm” where a leader must successfully open herself up to the team/organization and the team/organization has to open themselves up to the leader. If this occurs — where both sides are operating in an open and thus harmonious manner — we can define her as a Harmonic Leader. That is, there is harmony between all players.

In the Spring of 2013 something very interesting occurred. After a four-year absence (and retirement) A.G. Lafley returned to the post of CEO and Chairperson of Procter & Gamble — a post he held between 2000 and 2009 — to reinvigorate what can only be described as a negatively spiraling future at the 175 year-old company.

I find A.G. Lafley to be the perfect definition of a Harmonic Leader. I’m not surprised at all he has resurfaced.

As I detailed in Flat Army:

Through his decade at the ultimate leadership helm he helped to double total sales, quadrupled profits while increasing P&G’s market value by over $100 billion dollars. Furthermore he helped grow the number of billion-dollar brands at P&G – such as Gillette, Pampers, and Tide – from 10 to 24. How’d he do it? In his book, “The Game Changer: How Every Leader Can Drive Everyday Innovation (Profile Books, 2008) co-written with thought leader Ram Charan, Lafley refers to the unique combination of openness and ideas.

They write:

“Open architecture is the organizing principle that enables a business and its people to open themselves up to get ideas from anywhere at anytime. P&G collaborates with anybody, anywhere, anytime. P&G likes unusual suspects. It will even compete with a company on one side of the street, and cooperate with it on the other. In an open innovation system, anything out there is fair game, even if competitors are sitting on it. And that’s fine with both partners because it works.”

At P&G, Lafley opened up everything. He wanted his leaders to be more open and equally important he wanted his employees to be open. When that occurred, magic happened. He branded this open architecture at P&G “Connect and Develop” or C&D for short. It was an open leadership framework that ran across all employees, regardless of title, and it not only drove revenue and profitability, it grew employee engagement.

Lafley and Charan further opine:

The single characteristic of C&D is the willingness of all people at P&G to be psychologically open and to seriously consider new ideas, whatever the source, thus building a truly open, truly global innovation network that can link up—and be first in line—with the most interesting thinkers and the best products to “reapply with pride.”

To be a Harmonic Leader both the team and the leader need to be open, trusting and collaborative. The leader must be eager to listen to the people of the organization in order to drive the business forward. When a crisis occurs, command and control ruling isn’t immaturely inserted into the leader’s bag of behaviour tricks. She remains open, trusting and collaborative.

What More to Know:

  • What more is there to know? This is the ideal leadership style, one you want to be aligned to and one you want to embrace yourself.
  • It’s form before function, and behaviour before technology; the Harmonic Leader knows it’s about an open, trusting and collaborative behaviour before anything else including fancy social technologies.
  • Read Flat Army … it’s packed with details that directly align to the concept of the Harmonic Leader.

My suspicion is A.G. Lafley was brought back to P&G not only for his business acumen … but to reinstate a sense of openness and connectedness that might have diminished since his departure. I am very curious to see how this next chapter of P&G — and A.G. Lafley — plays out over the coming months and quarters. I’m very interested to see if A.G. continues to be the Harmonic Leader in the current state of crisis at P&G.

I’m very interested to see every leader become a Harmonic Leader in today’s organizations.



NB: although I didn’t include the Leadership Tonic Scale in my book Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization, you may be interested in Chapters 4-6 (The Connected Leader) and Chapter 7 (The Participative Leader Framework) in particular as they help to depict what I believe are the key ingredients to 21st century leadership. The entire Leadership Tonic Scale will be released on June 10th as a free downloadable paper.

UPDATE: The Leadership Tonic Scale downloadable PDF is now available.
Dan’s Newest Book

Click for details about Dan’s latest book, Work-Life Bloom.

Buy Dan's Books
Listen to Dan's Podcast
Read Dan's Column On