The 4 Pillars of Blue Ocean Leadership Theory

Is leadership about who you are or what you do?

Summary
Transcript

Elba Pareja-Gallagher, founder and president of Show Me 50—an organization with a mission to help level the playing field for working women—defines what the Blue Ocean Leadership theory is and explains its four pillars.

“For today's workforce, people want to be led differently. And what they're interested in isn't about who you are but what you do,” says Elba. “What this leadership model does is it changes the conversation from emotion about changing the person who the leader is and it's really about what the leader does.”

Through the four pillars, leaders must:

1. Focus on acts and activities.
2. Tie leadership acts back to the customer.
3. Distribute.
4. Optimize.

Watch the video for a more detailed look at each of these elements making up the Blue Ocean Leadership model and how they can help you be a better leader.

Blue Ocean Leadership is a leadership change model. It focuses around four main pillars. The first one is that leaders need to focus on acts and activities. The second pillar is that you need to tie your leadership activities back to the customer. The third one is that you need to distribute. And the fourth is optimize.

So, in the first pillar which is about acts and activities, it's really interesting. Traditional leadership models are about the individual. About your behavioral traits, your characteristics, your style. But really for today's workforce people want to be led differently. And what they're interested in isn't about who you are but what you do. The activities that you engage with your teams. And so, what this leadership model does is it changes the conversation from emotion about changing the person who the leader is and it's really about what the leader does.

The second pillar is about tying it back to the customer. In the traditional leadership model, it's all about what are we doing. How do we execute on the business plan? But when you talk about the Blue Ocean Leadership style you're focusing around the customer. How are your team members? How are your people engaging with the customer to help the customer achieve their goals and how are the acts and activities that you're doing as a leader, barriers to them or opportunities? And so, the key point that we add in this leadership model is about the customer and how your team is engaging with the customer. And changing the leader's acts and activities to eliminate the roadblocks.

The third pillar is all about distributing. Typically, we as leaders think about the executives being the ones that are making the rules, are demonstrating the leadership. But in fact, in order to truly capture all of the benefits and optimize your workforce, and your revenues and profits, you need to make sure all of your employees in management both in the middle and front line are leaders also. And so this model is about distributing the concept of leadership beyond the executives into the front line and middle management ranks.

The fourth and final pillar is about optimization. So you want to optimize the leadership activities. So once you identify what your employees are needing you... what roadblocks need to be eliminated, you need to circle back and figure out what do I need to reduce or eliminate in my actions and activities? And what do I need to raise and create? New things that I am not doing that they need me to do to help them. And in this way, you optimize. Eliminate the waste and add value.
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Elba Pareja-Gallagher

Elba Pareja-Gallagher is the founder of the social impact organization ShowMe50.org. The non-profit’s vision is to achieve 50% women in senior leadership positions through a grassroots movement. Using a one-of-a-kind collaborative ap...

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