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Triple A Leadership

Over the past 13 years, ISHR Group has assessed, developed and coached hundreds (and hundreds) of leaders from around the world. We have harvested a tremendous amount of data on precisely those competencies, attributes and skills that make a leader great. We know that every individual has a compelling personal story, and that story is a key factor in who they are and how they lead. We have harnessed our collective insights, mind power, discoveries and experiences and created a model that reflects how we talk about leadership. It begins with the premise that ‘superior leaders possess superior self-awareness.’ A closely linked concept is the notion that ‘what got you here, won’t necessarily get you there.’ The vital re-focusing is the next step — Leadership is leveraging your authentic self.

Our model is simple and powerful. It overlays personal leadership with business leadership. At the end of the day, the realization is clear and powerful: “it’s all about YOU.”

We call our model Triple A Leadership! In this model, the A's stand for: "Accountable," "Attitude," and "Approach." It is important to note that the Triple A Leadership is not related to the stereotypical "type A personality," as we have found that any personality type or style can successfully display or demonstrate the A's associate with Triple A Leadership.

For a more detailed explanation of Triple A Leadership, please read chapter 12 in our book, "GUIDE Coaching: A Leader's Strategy for Building Alignment and Engagement."


The most common denominator and first level of Triple A Leaders is that they are "Accountable." They get things done and they deliver in a credible manner. The next level is "Attitude." They have a positive and proactive attitude toward their work, their development, and the way they lead others. The third level is "Approach."  This is where we find many Leaders continue to struggle to develop.  "Approach" is all about how Leaders work with others and within the organization to achieve results.

Single A: "Accountable"

  • High “Say-Do” Ratio: This is doing what you say you are going to do. It is being dependable, delivering results, and meeting or exceeding performance objectives.
  • Credible: This is being believable. It is being seen as doing the right thing versus having any hidden agenda. It means that you have built a solid foundation of experience and that you are speaking from a base of knowledge.
  • Critical Thinker: This means being able to analyze data, options, and input to make decisions. It’s about asking questions to understand, and being thoughtful about gathering data. It also means knowing when to stop getting more input and proceeding to “make the call.”
  • Adaptable: This is having the flexibility to adapt to internal changes within the organization or external fluctuations in the marketplace. It means you see change as a positive, as a way to unearth new possibilities, as opposed to being resistant towards considering new ways of doing things.
  • Resourceful: This is not necessarily having the highest IQ, but rather having the resourcefulness and know-how to figure out how to get up to speed quickly in any new situation. This can be through self-study or through leveraging the knowledge of others. This is also about “getting it done” even without the optimal number of resources, money or time.

Double A: Attitude

  • Managerial Courage: This is about making decisions, even the tough calls.  It’s about having the courage of your conviction to present or support an unpopular view. It’s about considering multiple variables, and knowing when to continue discussion, and when to take action.  
  • Maturity: This has nothing to do with age or experience, but with “being comfortable in your own skin.”  It’s about having the self-awareness to know the key strengths which are causing you to be effective, and those developmental areas which you need to address to be even more effective. This is about owning your mistakes versus finger-pointing or placing blame. 
  • Continuous Learner:  This is about having a positive and proactive attitude towards your own personal growth and development. It means being curious, not complacent. It is about seeing personal and organizational development as a journey versus a destination. It is seeking out and being open to feedback and ideas from others, and being willing to stretch yourself versus staying in your comfort zone.
  • Passionate: This is genuinely loving the work you are doing and having an infectious enthusiasm that entices others to want to work with and for you. It’s about having the ability to build a following and having people say, “I don’t care what the job is, I just want to work for that person again.” It’s about radiating a positive, “can-do,” “glass half-full” attitude.  When someone doesn’t love what they do, it shows in how they go about their day, and not surprisingly, it affects their ability to deliver. Leaders who genuinely love what they do seem to do their work with ease and it impacts those around them more positively. When you do what you love, you are more productive and fulfilled.

Triple A: Approach

  • Big Picture Thinker: Although well-intended, many Leaders get bogged down with daily firefighting or the transactional nature of their businesses and do not consciously carve out time to think long-term and set a vision for where they want their organization to go. This is all about focusing on the big picture, creating, and communicating a strategy. It’s about being strategic, and taking a non-siloed approach.  It means being able to wear the big hat regarding vision, goals, business “levers,” processes, resources and talent.  It means staying abreast of your environment as it relates to customers, industry, competition and the world. It means being able to come up with creative and innovative approaches and ideas.
  • Leadership Flexibility: Staying true to who you are does not mean only having one style of leadership.  It is easy to lead a team of people like you, but much more difficult, and infinitely more effective, to lead a diverse team of individuals.  The idea is not to require them to change to your style, but for you to understand how best to influence and motivate them as individuals and as a total team.  This is about being able to adapt your leadership style to motivate various people, styles, and situations. It means being able to lead different functions and businesses versus just the one you “grew up in.”  It means being able to master the transition from “uber-Individual Contributor” to being able to deliver through others by coaching and motivating, not doing.  
  • Ability to Influence: This goes well beyond interpersonal skills and encompasses organizational knowledge.  This is knowing who the key stakeholders are and being able to flex your communication style to see things from their perspective to get buy-in.  It’s about having communication savviness. Most Leaders communicate well in specific scenarios, but many still focus on trying to be equally effective on all fronts.  This is about learning to communicate with individuals, small groups, or large groups, across all levels of an organization, and in formal presentations or informal networking events. It’s about having presence. Like it or not, the way in which you present yourself goes a long way towards forming people’s impression of you as a Leader.  This can be how you dress, how you speak, or the impression you leave. Many people we coach want to prove they can be successful without this, but they end up being overlooked or misperceived because they are not “memorable.”

Triple A Leadership provides a snapshot of the common themes that emerged as we assessed Leaders across the globe.  We have run this model past hundreds and thousands of people since we developed it, and we resoundingly hear, “Yes! This makes sense.” People can review it, and quickly self-assess where they are in their own leadership development. 

Are you a Triple A Leader? Are you "Accountable?" What is your "Attitude" toward your own development, development of others, and development of your work? What is your "Approach" towards others and to the organization?  



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