Think of the best leader you know, a person who really knows how to intelligently influence others to be more effective, and to move toward meaningful purposes and goals.  Who would you choose, and what makes them a leading-edge leader?

Here are a few things I’d bet that your chosen influential leader is not.

I bet you did not identify someone who operates like a general on a hill.  You know, the kind of person who loves telling others where to go and what to do.  Leading-edge leaders see people as inherently capable, and they use unconditional curiosity to partner with others and call forth their potential to help accomplish important objectives.  The days of command-and-control leadership are over, and today’s influential leader knows the importance of Interdependence as the highest ROI approach to accelerating human performance – including their own.

I’d be surprised if your chosen leader passes him/herself as “practically perfect in every way” – just like Mary Poppins, if you’re familiar with that children’s story.  In fact, I’d bet that there is something downright authentic about your leading-edge leader, in that there is a willingness to own both strengths and weaknesses, mistakes, as well as successes with the same grace and absence of judgment.  My guess is that your chosen influencer is Confidently Vulnerable®, in that they are okay with being “human”, and they give you the same courtesy and permission.  Today’s most impactful leaders, and intelligent influencers of others see through this lens.

Finally, I’d put money on the fact that your leading-edge leader is not just interested in tasks and their outcomes.  If they are like other leaders on the cutting edge, they are very aware of the fact that all performance swims in the water of relationship, and they take care of the relationships at hand.  This includes partnering with others to co-create an environment of safety, where all can flourish, and feel confident to contribute and bring their best to the team and its outcomes.

So, what do these three ways of seeing have in common?  Look at the list one more time, and see if you can spot the pattern:

  1. Interdependence over command-and-control leadership.
  2. Confident Vulnerability™ and nonjudgment of themselves and others – rather than trying to maintain the façade of perfection, or expecting others to operate similarly.
  3. Equally valuing both task and relationship as key to optimal outcomes, instead of only focusing on task-oriented results.

You may not have called it this, but all leading-edge leaders have high People Acuity™.  That is, they see themselves and others with clarity, keenness, or accuracy, and they know how to optimize the value, capability, and untapped potential that they see.  This means that they hold the inherent value of people separate from what they do.  It means that they know how to spot strengths and call forth unseen and untapped potential, and leverage both to maximize outcomes.

They recognize that, “the focus on seeing and being differently changes behavior more than the focus on behaviour ever will” (quote from People Acuity: Revolutionizing Results and Relationships – download Chapter 1 at  The willingness to come to the root of all results and relationships – seeing with accuracy – puts them on the edge of the cutting edge, and able to intelligently influence others in a larger-than-life way.

NOTE: this article was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team.  It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology.  People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.