You know they lie. They may not mean to, but almost everybody at some point says one thing and does something else. They lie to you. They lie to themselves. So, if you want to figure out what they really care about, look at what they do, not what they say. Look at how they spend their time and allocate resources.

Consciously or unconsciously, they’re making BRAVE leadership, core alignment, and resource priority choices as artistic, scientific or interpersonal leaders. While the choices are interrelated, overlapping, and sometimes blurred, we can best understand them separately.


Artistic, Scientific and Interpersonal Leaders

Interpersonal leaders drive to actions, scientific leaders knowledge, and artistic leaders feelings. The world, and your organization, needs all three of these types of leaders. Just know which you’re dealing with at any time.


BRAVE Leadership is a framework for thinking and leading marked by the five questions in the left-hand column above. Expect:

  • Environmentally or contextually-focused leaders to spend time outside the organization learning about customers, collaborators, competitors and outside conditions.
  • Values-focused leaders to spend time driving purpose through the organization – mission, vision and guiding principles.
  • Attitudinally-focused leaders to challenge choices and look for big strategic shifts.
  • Relationship-focused leaders to spend their time connecting with and influencing others, supporting and challenging people and evolving the organization
  • Behavior-focused leaders to spend their time looking at output, results and impact-driving actions, knowledge, or feelings.

Core Alignment

Everything is easier if a leader’s fundamental approach aligns with the core nature of the organization.

  • Design-focused organizations need enablers, spending their time freeing up support for independent creative designers.
  • Production-focused organizations need command and control enforcers, enforcing essential policies, spending their time at the coal face, with those producing things.
  • Delivery-focused organizations leaders focused on enrolling interdependent others across the ecosystem.
  • Service-focused organizations need chief experience officers who push decisions out to those closest to those being serviced, leading with purpose-focused guided accountability.



Resource Prioritization

Strategies are theoretically elegant and practically useless until resources are deployed against them. Every organization designs, produces, sells and markets, delivers, and services. The core nature of the organization should drive its priorities in terms of where it chooses to win, not lose, and not play.

Two key points here are the choices and descriptions.

With regard to choices, the strong recommendation is to stand for something. Choose to be best at something for someone versus being acceptable at everything for everyone.

The basic value equation applies in which perceived relative value is a function of perceived relative benefits and costs.


The high road is choosing to be perceived as relatively superior on a discrete set of benefits. While you can also increase your perceived relative value by lowering your costs, that prompts a race to the bottom. Over time, the price of everything gets competed down to its marginal cost. So, winning a race to the bottom inevitably leads to profits evaporating.

Descriptions or labels are tricky as different people define things differently. One client and I were arguing about whether it’s better to be “world class” or “best-in-class” until I realized the labels were just a distraction.

Find a set of descriptions that communicate the same things to all. My own best current thinking is three levels with some sub-descriptors.

The first cut is between investing to 1) win/be better than others versus 2) not lose/be no worse than others versus 3) not do or outsource.

The sub-descriptors look like this:


  • Predominant – Top 1% resources, unparalleled strength, influence, authority – Sets the standards and price for others and shapes the future
  • Superior – Top 10% resources, better than anyone else, generally commanding price premium
  • Strong – Top 25% resources, better than most, no discount required


Not lose/no worse

  • Above average – Can deliver at lower price
  • Good enough/scaled – Delivers minimum acceptable quality at lowest price


Not do/outsource



The pivot is the core nature of the business. Look for your leaders to spend their time focused on that general area. Expect them to invest to win in that area. If they’re spending time and investing in other areas, something’s amiss. Then look for ways to spend less time and invest less in other areas to free up resources for what matters most.