Leadership Lessons from the Eiffel Tower

What do you see when effective leadership happens? I’m willing to bet you see DAC: Direction, Alignment and Commitment. On my second installment of videos from the Eiffel Tower, I thought about this as I took in Paris from the tower’s (windy) second story back in February. Undoubtedly, it took a large amount of work and effort from many people. So what sort of vision was needed to build such a tower? Did each person know what was expected of him or her? Was it a goal to have people like me have an awe-inspiring, breathtaking, unforgettably awesome view of Paris? And was that goal powerful enough to keep people motivated?

To be an effective leader, particularly for those who are stepping up into management for the first time in your life, you need a clear vision of what it is going to take to attain success in whatever goal you are trying to accomplish. You need to set a vision that everyone can understand. You need to clearly articulate your vision, and make sure other people understand it, adopt it, and will do everything possible to attain it. To do that, you need to make every effort to make leadership happen–to make DAC happen:

  • Direction – where are we going, and what are we striving to attain? Lay out a picture, and make sure everyone can clearly say beyond a shadow-of-a-doubt what that picture or end-goal is. You need to set the vision in a way that everyone can understand.
  • Alignment – how are we all able to go in that set direction? Lay out each person’s role and responsibility and how those are integral to the team’s success.
  • Commitment – how are all of us engaged enough in our work, to be dedicated and devoted in going in that direction? Foster each person’s passion, care for one another, and reinforce how each person’s work matters.

You don’t need to go to the Eiffel Tower to think about DAC (although, it doesn’t hurt). Think about the best leader you have ever worked alongside, and how that person made DAC happen. Now, think about how you can make DAC happen in your own job, with the people you lead.

Please share your thoughts on how you can apply this principle to your own work.

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About Bill Gentry

William (Bill) is currently a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) and also an adjunct assistant professor at several colleges and universities. In applying his research into practice, Bill’s current focus is on helping leaders who are managing for the first time in their life. His research interests are in multisource (360) research, survey development and analysis, leadership and leadership development across cultures, leader character and integrity, mentoring, managerial derailment, multilevel measurement, and in the area of organizational politics and political skill in the workplace. He received a BA from Emory University and an MS and PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Georgia. Follow Bill on Twitter: Lead_Better
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4 Responses to Leadership Lessons from the Eiffel Tower

  1. Bill, nice post. I really like the way you break it down simply to D-A-C. If leaders could just manage to achieve these 3, they would be tremendously successful. I want to emphasize one thing under Direction. “…and make sure everyone can clearly say beyond a shadow-of-a-doubt what that picture or end-goal is.” A casual reader might miss the key activity here; As Jack Welsh said: “Communicate, communicate, communicate.” I have seen many managers who fall short using the rationale “Well I put it in a PowerPoint presentation / poster / company website / staff meeting.” That’s not enough. It requires personal and repeated communication to embed the vision in the mind of your teams.

  2. avatar Bill Gentry says:

    Bob, that is a GREAT thing to say about communication and DAC. Real estate is all about location, location, location. Leadership is all about communication, communication, communication. Leaders have to find a way to communicate so that each person they work with understands the vision. Maybe it’s through words, through pictures, through stories. You make a great point, one I hope people take away as well when it comes to DAC. THANKS for the response.

  3. avatar Fabrice Albrechts says:

    Bill, think this is good advice for up climbing managers that are put in leading positions. However I do not agree that this is the same as great leadership, although it can be part of it.

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