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Zenger & Folkman’s Leadership Tent

In their book “The Extraordinary Leader”, Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman look at research on leadership skills. They demonstrate that not only can leadership be developed, but that essential leadership skills are relatively few in number. They found that very few leaders possess the entire essential skill set, nor do they possess similar patterns of skills.

Zenger and Folkman undertook a survey review of approximately 22,000, 360 degree feedback reports, and were able to identify that the top 10% of leaders made a positive difference to all aspects of the organisation based on 5 key areas of leadership.

They built a model referred to as the “Leadership Tent” to represent these 5 key areas of effective leadership.  The poles of the tent in their metaphor represent key strengths of the individual leader.

Leadership tent

Leadership Tent

Character is at the core of all leadership effectiveness and therefore at the centre of the tent, with the other four poles being:

  •  Personal Capabilities
  •  Focus on Results
  •  Leading Change
  •  Interpersonal Skills

Through their research, one of the key insights the authors discovered is that leaders are made, not born. People can learn and improve their leadership effectiveness through self-development. The key to lifting more of the tent (becoming a more effective leader) is to get multiple poles high in the air.

In the coming blog posts, we will explore each of the poles of the tent in greater detail, starting with the centre pole of Character.

About the Author: William Lang

William Lang
Bill Lang has over 25 years professional experience working as an organisation strategy and development consultant and C-suite Executive Coach. Early in his career he worked with KPMG, McKinsey &Co., Bain & Company and AXA as an Executive. His clients operate in over 50 countries and on all continents. He is former member of the Melbourne University Commerce Faculty and holds a MBA(Harvard) and B.Comm/LLB (Hons). He is the author and creator of the Scores on the Board skill development and improvement system.

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