For more than twenty years, Victor Prince learned about leadership by doing. He’s worked on and led quite a few teams during his career. Some were wildly successful, and others were less so. But each team provided a valuable lesson. While hiking across Spain during a six-month sabbatical, he realized it would be great to get some of those lessons on paper.
When he came up with the idea for the matrix (pictured here), he approached Mike Figliuolo to see what he thought of it. Victor had known Mike for more than a decade. The two worked together on several projects and Mike already had a successful book, so Victor valued his input.
Victor explains, “I asked Mike, ‘I know there’s a blog post, but do you think there’s a book here?’” Mike answered that not only was there a book, but he wanted to work together to write it. Their collaboration is called Lead Inside the Box.
According to Mike, one of the chief complaints he hears while working as an executive coach is that his clients don’t have enough time. Understandably, one thing that takes up a lot of time is coaching and leading a team. “If you change the way you’re working with your team members — where you’re spending your time and where you’re not — you’re going to have more time and drive better performance,” Mike argues. He sees Lead Inside the Box as an effective approach to add to leaders’ toolkits.
The book centers on a matrix outlining four common types of employee behaviors with widely different development needs. Victor clarifies, “The purpose of the book is not to put people into boxes literally. The model is not about labeling people. It’s meant to help individuals to evolve and get people into a better place in their career.”
When a team is floundering, it’s easy to place blame on individuals who aren’t producing. Lead Inside the Box takes the focus off individuals and instead focuses on the relationships between individuals and leaders. To produce successfully, one must take the bigger picture into account. Leaders must bear the burden and create better work environments.
According to Mike, rather than thinking of each stage inside the box being determined by personality or circumstances, the stages should be interpreted as performance driven. He says, “Folks can transition from stage to stage for all different reasons, role changes, leadership changes, behavior change.”
Both men admit to occupying each stage in the box at some point during his career. Victor explains, “Ultimately, people rotate through the box based on how much input their leader has to give.” Real life examples of leaders helping team members move to better spots in the box fill the book.
Working together, Victor and Mike realized they had twice the number of stories they might have had alone. Sometimes it was difficult to pick which story they should include in the book. But Victor acknowledges that was a nice problem to have.
Victor wishes he’d had this book years ago. “This is the book that I wish someone had given me 20 years ago when I started managing people — probably the people I managed wish I’d been given this book too,” he admits. He’s hopeful that the lessons he and Mike have learned throughout their careers will be helpful to readers.
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Learning to Lead Inside the Box