Insightful Ideas

Learn more about our leadership expertise and topics related to business acumen, strategy execution, new leadership and finding your own personal balance of leadership.
All Posts

Inspire Discretionary Effort by Knowing What You Stand For

Every successful leader must grapple with and answer this fundamental question: What do you stand for? A key element of leadership is tapping the hearts and minds and the discretionary effort of others. This happens when people understand and believe in what you believe.

 Leadership in Times of Uncertainty 

As a leader, part of your role is inevitably to guide others through change -- and we are most certainly in a time of change. Sometimes you must lead into an uncertain future where you do not, in fact, have the answers. One thing that people want to know in these times is: What is NOT changing? In an uncertain world, what can they count on? Your values and perspective as a leader - what you stand for - are core to your leadership. They are constants in a world of change and they can ground you and others, providing a degree of certainty to enable action.

The Business Cycle of Leadership

Your values and perspective as a leader, in fact, are at the very foundation of The Business Cycle of Leadership, one of Insight Experience’s most popular leadership models.
 business cycle of leadership.png

Three simple but powerful levers:

  • Message - what you say and how you say it;
  • Time - how you spend your time in the service of the business and ask
    others to spend theirs, and the
  • Priorities and focus you set for yourselves and the business.

These are critical to your ability as a leader to gain trust, discretionary effort, and help employees drive performance and results in your business. And they must be grounded first and foremost in your values and perspective as a leader. The power in these leadership levers comes from their congruence with who you are and what you believe. This is even more important in times of change.

In order for people to decide whether to follow you -- to give you their energy and commitment, and the benefit of the doubt in uncertainty -- they first need to know what you stand for. Only then will they decide whether to “buy in.”

Do you know what you really stand for? Have you taken the time to reflect on it? Now might be a good time. Your people want to know.


Nick Noyes is co-founder of Insight Experience, a Boston-based firm delivering contextually rich, immersive business simulations and learning experiences to accelerate and integrate leadership, business acumen and strategy execution.