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The 4 “Inner” Ps of Leadership

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My leadership framework for your “outer world” rests on three perspectives.

Everything around leadership begins with People.  There is no leader without followers.  Followers need to know what direction to go. 

That takes orchestrating facilitated by Planning.  Carrying out the plan requires integrating and executing to achieve the desired results.  

People follow positive results, which broadly is all about Performance.

From a leadership perspective, these 3 Ps are what I would call the “outer” things: the actions, interactions, and results from the leader dealing with the realities of his/her “outer” world.

What about the “inner” world of the leader?  What makes the leader behave, act, and respond to this “outer” world?

Let me advocate another simple framework based on The 4 Inner Ps: Purpose, PersuasionsPersonality, and Proficiencies

Personal Purpose

In my book Develop a Leadership Plan: Become a Great LeaderPurpose is a fundamental driver for the individual in journeying through life. 

Many people have approaches to help develop personal purpose or missions such as Stephen Covey, John DeMartini, and a good friend of mine Monte Pendleton. 

You can get much more insight from my blog “What is your Personal Purpose.” 

Your Purpose is the centerpiece of your “inner” self.  It becomes a guidepost in building your leadership capabilities.


Persuasions are deep rooted beliefs, feelings, needs, perceptions, values, and morals that influence how you behave and act in the “outer” world.

They persuade you in acting a certain way and create a filter or bias in dealing with the “outer” world bringing judgment in how to behave. 

Values, a key Persuasion, are quite important in setting priorities for behavior.  It is often surprising to find that people have not really thought through their values and what is important to them. 

Recognize that needs can rearrange these value priorities.  You may well have a value of not to steal.  But if you are starving to death, you may override that value. 

Thus, needs are a big driver of Persuasions.  Your needs certainly change over time. 

When basic needs such as safety and security are satisfied, then a new driver emerges such as a desire to belong and be loved, having a family, achieving some form of status and personal accomplishment, etc.

It is worthwhile to understand what needs are driving your current behavior and actions.

Beliefs likewise have a real impact on behavior. 

Do you think people like to work or need to be coerced? Are looks important for a leader and if so to what degree?

Do you have religious beliefs or are you an atheist? And so forth.

You may be keeping these beliefs from others.  Likewise, you may not know how certain beliefs are unbeknownst to you but playing out for others to see.

Perspectives are how we see the world and represent your reality.   

It is valuable to understand your own perspective and reality. As a leader, understanding other’s perspectives can be invaluable in working with them.

How can you do that?

Eric S Burdon highlighted in a short article in Medium in May 2018 says there are two ways to open-up your perspective.  

Perspective-taking is viewing the world from other viewpoints. Perspective-seeking is using an objective point of view rather than taking sides. The key with perspectives, is trying to find where the other person is coming from. 

What is their view of the world or situation and why? Very rigid personal perspectives can handicap your leadership.

Morals and other Persuasions form your character, things like trustworthiness, respect, and fairness. In many respects, character becomes your license to operate as a leader.

Below is the concept of a Johari Window.

It gets at how you display your “inner” self to others in the “outside” world.

My suggestion is to open your arena to include more of the Façade and to collaborate with others to ascertain Blind Spots.

Really knowing your blind spots can be extremely helpful in effectively dealing with other People. 

This generally means talking about your Persuasions with your People. 

In doing this, you will become more authentic which is an important attribute of a good leader.


Personality has a strong impact on behavior.

 It is much easier to read Personality in a person than Persuasions, and typically falls in the Arena block of the Johari window.  

Personality has many different aspects to it. 

Things like being introverted or extroverted, funny or serious, generally positive or negative, energetic or lethargic, and so forth. 

Of course, there are various theories on personality and tests to measure different characteristics such as Myers Briggs or Birkman which are useful in understanding an individual. 

Having an extroverted personality or being dominant does not always predict leadership success. 

Introverted individuals with a strong resolve and character can be successful leaders.

Personality does not really change that much.

However, sometimes we have personality quirks that can be a fatal leadership flaw.

For example, always having a negative scowl on your face in directing people.

One should try to address any such flaws. They can derail your interpersonal relations with others. 

Generally, these can be corrected with coaching.

I would put leadership styles under Personality.

Are you a participative type leader, authoritarian, or consultative? 

Do you have more concern for people or production?

Are you flexible depending on the situation or is your approach highly rigid? 

Are you team based or more of a boss?

Leadership styles certainly impact Performance.

You can change your style but be sure it is real and authentic. 

Saying you are a participative boss and acting authoritarian is a worse outcome than simply being authoritarian.


Proficiencies are an individual’s capabilities and skills. Traits like basic intelligence and personal attributes have an underlying impact, but these must turn into Proficiencies such as the ability to solve problems, to vision, to influence, and so forth.

Thus, one foundation of Proficiencies is your traits. Many different authors have researched traits over the years. I find Peter Northouse’s analysis in his latest text on Leadership Northouse Theory and Practice to be insightful.

The five main traits suggested are Intelligence, self-confidence, determination, integrity, and sociability. The trait approach to leadership is often critiqued as not being a stand-alone theory to leadership. I agree traits are simply one dimension of understanding leadership capability, and there is no generally agreed upon list.

Traits are much more like Personality in that they are less teachable such as intelligence. However, a trait like self-confidence can be built upon by developing the other Proficiencies below. Another foundation of Proficiencies that drives competencies comes from knowledge. 

First is your knowledge and capability about running a business. Often entrepreneurs have a lack of understanding in general areas such as financial management, operational execution, marketing, and so forth. Having a business degree can help here. 

Over time this knowledge can be learned by working in the business but should be done consciously. Second is your knowledge of the specific industry under which the business falls. What makes for success and failures in the industry? 

Who are the main competitors? How does the industry react to new players? And so forth.

Experience and tenure in the industry are generally very worthwhile. It also helps to talk with those who have this industry experience as you well know.

A third form of knowledge can be considered technical capabilities often relating to specific professions. 

Are you an engineer and what type? 

Are you an accountant?

If the business has a product of a highly technical nature, do you understand all the logic in how it works? 

This type knowledge generally requires schooling or some form of training,

Traits such as IQ, math competencies, etc. play a role in developing this knowledge base.

The third foundation of Proficiencies for me comes under the area of leadership skills. 

There are many different theories that could be referenced. 

My preference is for Tom Rath and Barry Conchie’s leadership strengths from their book StrengthsFinder 2.0 Strengths based Leadership.

Their research through Gallup polling found 34 different themes.

For me, the value comes from their grouping these themes under four major domains: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking.

They contend and I agree that leaders will not have all these competencies. 

The idea is to build on your strengths and find others to form your team that bring strengths that balance yours. 

I recommend to my clients that their leadership team take the strength finder’s test from the book and then talk about the results in a team meeting.  This has proven very enlightening in every case.

I do think leaders need to be aware of their interpersonal skills. 

Daniel Goleman’s groundbreaking book on Emotional Intelligence provides a complementary set of personal skills critical for leadership success. 

EQ has become generally widespread and as you probably know has five components: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

Most clients do well on an EQ test, but if not, it is a clear coaching area.  Fortunately, EQ can be learned, unlike IQ.

Just like the other three inner P elements, Proficiencies have a strong impact on actions and behaviors in the “outer” world. 

Generally, many Proficiencies can be developed and often the focus of leadership training and workshops. 

Most Proficiencies improve with experience and practice. 

Having a coach bringing the wisdom of such experiences can certainly speed up the learning process.

Tying it together

We are complex because it is the interaction of Purpose, Persuasions, Personality, and Proficiencies that drive our leadership behavior and actions in the “outer” world. 

Understanding one element is only looking at part of the “inner” self that impacts behavior.

But, by focusing on each element in working to make improvements and enhancements, we can improve our overall leadership performance.

If we do this in concert with our understanding of the 3 Ps of Leadership from the “outer” world perspective, we can become a great leader.

In summary, the 3 Ps of Leadership focus on your actual behavior, actions, and results in leading your business.

For example, how do you treat your People?

What overall vision and direction for the company exists?

Have you built a high-Performance team?  And so forth.

The 4 Inner Ps of Leadership focus on your capability to lead.

Developing these “inner” 4 Ps of Leadership can benefit by having a coach.

It is helpful when you delve into these fundamentals to have someone to reflect and confidentially discuss them with you.

Having someone with experience and wisdom enhances that reflection. 

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