Consultant Rob Sherman, of Sherman Leadership Group, believes there are 12 laws to abide by when it comes to leadership.
MAUI, Hawaii - The essence of leadership is influence. So believes Rob Sherman, of Sherman Leadership Group, Columbus, Ohio.

The truth be known, the consultant ranks this observation as the top "law" in his self-proclaimed "Sherman's 12 Laws of Leadership." Sherman went through all of his key leadership principles in his educational session ("Persuasion and Influence: Essential Leadership Strategies for the Mechanical Contractor") offered at the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) Convention, held recently at the Grand Wailea Resort.

"These are the kinds of principles that will serve you in your personal and professional lives," promised Sherman. "This is not just about your job. These principles serve you throughout your career."

LAWS 1-6

By stating that "leadership is influence," Sherman stressed that influence is neither a title nor a position. It is not managing systems or being a caretaker, either.

"How many have you hired and then eventually promoted people, but then they cling to the status quo?" asked Sherman. "These are not leaders. Leaders embrace change and approach challenges with can do enthusiasm and creative thinking."

He noted that influence could be either good, producing a picture of Martin Luther King on the screen behind him, or bad, producing a picture of Adolph Hitler. "Effective good leaders develop influence through character, relationships, knowledge, intuition, experience, and competence," he explained.

His No. 2 law: Leaders chart the course. According to Sherman, this means leaders have goals and/or priorities, have an action plan in place, communicate their respective vision or visions, allow time for acceptance of ideas, expect problems and/or challenges, point to successes, and hold themselves and others accountable.

"Usually you hear the word honesty and integrity," he said. "I'd like to think of people with character having kind of an inner life, a spirit. People with character have something that they embrace. Leaders don't have to sell themselves."

Leaders also develop relationships, his third law. According to Sherman, a person develops relationships by acknowledging the needs of others, giving them hope, showing them how to solve problems, speaking to their needs first, and encouraging others to succeed.

"You'll tend to surround yourself with negative people. Don't do it," he advised. "I don't know why we do that. We hire the people that suck the life out of our organizations. Great leaders know they have to surround themselves with great people."

Sherman's fourth law: Leaders take responsibility for the acts of the team. His fifth law: Leaders empower others.

Quoting Carly Fiorina, former president of Hewlitt-Packard, Sherman said, " ‘Leaders unlock the potential in people.' That's what it is all about. Some people are so concerned about being right that they forget about leading."

Leaders understand that courage requires them to overcome their fears, which is Sherman's law No. 6. Simply put, fear is a powerful motivator, he said.

"What do you think anxiety and stress are?" he asked, before answering his own question. "It's fear. ... If you say, I am concerned, that means fear. How do you handle it? The first thing you have to do is recognize that you have this fear. Right now, we ignore it, but a true leader realizes his fears and then deals with them."

LAWS 7-12

Continuing, Sherman said leaders take risks outside of their comfort area (law No. 7), overcome negative self-talk (law No. 8) and live their values consistently (law No. 9).

"Consistently living your values generates trust," said Sherman, before turning to a quote attributed to Elvis Presley. " ‘Values are like fingerprints. Nobody's are the same, but you leave ,em all over everything you do.' "

Leaders maintain a sense of perspective, which is his 10th law.

"We sometimes tend to lose perspective," said Sherman. "We let our egos get in the way. Now don't misunderstand this. Your job is important, but you just might take yourself too seriously. A good leader will not take himself too seriously."

Turning to law No. 11, he said leaders are constantly aware. In fact, he called this "the key to life."

"When you are aware, you can actually make a decision to change," he said. "If you are not aware, if you sleepwalk through life, which a lot of us do, you don't make any changes. If you are not aware, you can't change. The basis of all decision-making is awareness."

His last law: Leaders leave a legacy. "It's about leaving behind your character, values, competence, and sacrifice," said Sherman.

Sidebar: Behavioral Styles

MAUI, Hawaii - In addition to providing his 12 laws of leadership, consultant Robert Sherman discussed the principles of persuasion during his presentation at the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) conference. He noted that people are persuaded to take action for their own reasons, not yours.

"People tend to have preferred behavioral styles that tells you how they wish to communicate," he said. "You can increase your ability to persuade if you blend and adapt your style to their preferred style."

Sherman referred to the fundamental principles of D.I.S.C., which categorizes people in four behavioral styles: driver, influencer, steady, and compliant.

In a nutshell, the characteristics of a driver behavioral style include being aggressive, authoritative, direct, and strong willed. According to Sherman, drivers like to fight back when there is a conflict. Among the ways to deal with these types of people, he said, are by being direct and professional with them, guiding them by offering alternatives, and keeping them focused on the task.

"Dealing with high Ds [drivers], know that they enjoy the combat," said Sherman. "Don't let them intimidate or overpower you. Stay calm. Avoid over reliance on policy or detail. Eye contact is critical. They sense fear."

Meanwhile, the characteristics of an influencer include the fact that he/she is affable, charming, confident, and trusting. An influencer, said Sherman, is an extrovert and people-orientated. However, when it comes to conflicts, an influencer will run, he said.

"Dealing with high I's [influencers], be friendly with them. Let them talk. Keep them focused," said Sherman. "Be aware that I's are evasive and mislead unintentionally."

Another word of caution: Influencers are malleable but can shift to a driver mode when betrayed, said Sherman.

In regard to steady characteristics, these people want predictability, he said. These folks are stable, team players, and are organized, he said. When it comes to conflicts, steady people tolerate or put up with the situation. "Dealing with high S's [steady], one must be friendly and professional, stay organized, and provide assurance in the form of data," said Sherman, adding that a "steady individual may need a push from you to gain commitment."

Rounding out the behavioral styles, the characteristics of a compliant person is exacting, having high standards, is systematic, and traditional. A compliant person, said Sherman, will try to avoid conflicts.

"Dealing with high C's [compliant], one must be direct and professional, be patient and slow, and answer questions with data," he suggested. "They are mutually skeptical, so expect it."

In the end, he said compliant individuals can be evasive when dealing with issues outside of their comfort level.

Publication date: 04/17/2006