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The Alchemy of Leadership Blog

The Four Dimensions: Up, Down, Out, In


Since David Sole and I founded the School for CEOs in 2011, we’ve wanted to help people step up to the next level in their organisation.  Building on our successful Vital Few programme, which is aimed at senior business leaders, we developed the Runway programme for a broader range of people, generally at an earlier stage in their careers.  The core of Runway is our 4-Dimensional Leadership™ (or 4DL™) framework.

We developed 4DL™ using insights from three sources.  The first is our proprietary research, particularly ‘Stepping up to CEO’ which we published in 2013.  This report was based on interviews with over 40 leading businessmen and women.  The second is our experienced Faculty of leading CEOs, Chairmen and expert practitioners, who have delivered many insights while teaching our Vital Few senior development programmes.  We have been running these since 2012 and they have proven invaluable in understanding the realities of business life at a senior level.  The final source is a comprehensive review of published literature and research on leadership and personal development.

In particular, we have been able to distil the behaviours and attributes a manager needs to succeed as leader of his/her business, or at least to move nearer to that level.  If you come on the programme, 4-Dimensional Leadership™ addresses the attributes you need to master in order to demonstrate you’re ready to step up to the next level:

    • Managing Up – how do you form the right relationship with your boss and other senior leaders above you?
    • Managing Down – how do you lead your immediate team and the wider organisation reporting to you?
    • Managing Out – how do you work with stakeholders outside your organisation such as government and the media?
    • Managing In – how do you manage yourself, keeping your feet on the ground and addressing issues such as work/life balance?

There are a number of aspects to consider under each dimension.  For Managing Up, the focus is on identifying the key stakeholders above you in the organisation and creating strategies to work with each of them.  We look at how you develop your followership skills.  The aim is to build sponsorship and support for both the work you are currently doing and your career progression.

In Managing Down, we focus on your leadership skills, both of your own team and more broadly, so that you develop your followers in turn.  We cover the challenges of communication and scalable leadership – touching everyone in the organisation – and look at your mentoring of others.

Turning to Managing Out, we consider the outside world, the broader landscape of external stakeholders including shareholders, regulators, government, the media and the communities within which your organisation functions.  You need to build a network which endures through changes.

Finally we come to Managing In, where we look at self-management.  High-profile, demanding jobs come with varying and competing pressures and priorities.  We consider how to stay grounded in the middle of it all.  Put another way, how do you stay sane?

In order to understand how effectively you’re managing each dimension, and whether you’re ready to step up to the next level, we ask you to complete a self-assessment questionnaire.  This asks over 100 questions about your approach to the four dimensions.  The questionnaire provides valuable feedback and points up areas for you to work on.  These insights in turn help you create your own self-development plan to address these areas.

There is one further dimension to consider: Managing Across.  Unless you are the CEO already, interacting with your peers is an important influence on your current effectiveness and future career progression.  It’s important to consider how you develop strong relationships with your peers.  This also sets the scene for some of your peers to become followers in the future.  We address this additional dimension during the Runway programme, along with the four key dimensions.

Finally, we integrate the insights gained so delegates can create a complete personal development plan.  This helps them identify areas where they can increase their current effectiveness as well as what they can do to develop their skills, ready for career progression.  Later, we help them embed these development actions during a one-on-one coaching session.

The results of the Runway programme to date have been very positive.  Both delegates and their sponsoring organisations find the experience and the development plans very helpful.  We’re excited about the potential to help a wide range of people in a wide range of organisations – helping them on the runway to career growth and personal development.  That can only be good for them and their organisations.

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© Patrick Macdonald 2015

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