By John Chandler
My friend from Fork Union (Va.) Baptist Church, Karen Bowles, runs The Etiquette School of the Commonwealth. This successful start-up works with businesses, children, Jefferson Scholars at the University of Virginia and Uptick young leaders. Karen teaches skills such as how to navigate relational dynamics over dinner tables, how to get into and out of conversations, and how to pay attention in social situations in ways that lead to confidence and good outcomes.
I think what Karen does is great. This is far more than prissy table manners; this is about how to build relational chemistry, explore for potential partners in collaboration and how to present yourself in the best possible light for the sake of a greater cause.
As such, I believe that two of the emerging competencies for leaders who would be disruptive innovators are temperance and courtesy. These related skillsets have to do with impulse control, awareness of context and a sense of how one is in relation to others in their setting. The competencies are relationship oriented and focused on serving others. And those who are highly skilled in these skills will most often find themselves with the allies and resources they need to do their best work.
How do we measure them? Temperance is about remaining on an even keel in the face of temptation, loss of equilibrium and lots of stimuli. Its marks: Even temperament. Acceptance of unavoidable tension and pressure. Grace and class. Demonstration of impulse-control instead of blurting out first impressions. Attention to relational chemistry and willingness to subordinate personal opinions for the good of the team and the goal. Here are scores:
4 — Outstanding: Performs consistently and effectively under extreme pressure. Never visibly falters. Caring to others.
3 — Very Good: Can tolerate unusual pressure and tension without hindering performance. Valued as a voice of wisdom.
2 — Satisfactory: Even tempered. Absorbs routine pressures of job.
1 — Some deficiency evident: Occasional display of temper or emotion sufficient to disrupt others and performance.
0 — Unsatisfactory: Volatile, inconsistent personality. High drama. Disrupts work environment.
Closely related but somewhat distinct is the virtue of courtesy: Respect for feelings and others. Politeness on the job. Enthusiasm, pride, loyalty to team and cause, respect for appropriate authority, team player. Courtesy is about facility in social environments. It has a team-achievement orientation rather than personal accomplishment orientation. Measures:
4 — Outstanding: Extremely well-mannered and polite. Always considers the comfort and ease of others. Personal habits are never offensive or in poor taste. Very enthusiastic, active and loyal supporter of team objectives. Cooperative. Seeks extra work, especially to benefit others.
3 — Very Good: Very conscientious of others’ feelings and rights. Always polite. Rarely exhibits poor or offensive habit. High degree of pride, enthusiasm and interest, loyal to team and cause.
2 — Satisfactory: Observes common courtesies, does not offend. Usually enthusiastic, works well with others, shows respect for legitimate authority, helps others.
1 — Some deficiency evident: Occasionally impolite to coworkers or others. Occasionally sloppy or displays offensive habits. Very little respect for others in environment, very little pride in team or job. Sometimes demonstrates thoughtless or self-centered behaviors.
0 — Unsatisfactory: Frequently rude or offensive. Causes noticeable discomfort to others. Resents supervision, not a team player, no enthusiasm. Openly egotistical.
Emerging innovative disrupters will be alert and agile within their environment. They will be resourceful and deliver high-output proportionate to the situation. And they will be personally temperate and unfailingly courteous relationally to build the best relational teams toward their causes.