Edgecumbe Consulting

Maximising your return on leadership

Success and failure in organisations rests on their ability to find solutions to a variety of problems. Do customers want what we can offer? Can we consistently deliver on our promises? Are we able to attract and keep the best people to meet our business goals, both now and in the future? Can we innovate and adapt fast enough to survive?

Having both the capability and agility to overcome such challenges, is, in our view, the ultimate challenge of leadership.

Our Leadership Model and approach to leadership is: 

  • endorsed by one of the UK’s most prominent academics in the field of psychology, Professor Adrian Furnham,
  • taught at Oxford Saïd Business School and Duke Corporate Education
  • adopted by some of the worlds industry-leading organisations, such as the BSI Group, Rolls-Royce and Ahold Delhaize.

The incomplete leader and the Primary Colours Model of Leadership

We recognise that the challenges a leader faces cannot be tackled by one individual alone. In fact, our research shows that it is almost impossible for a single leader to be highly effective in all aspects of leadership. We approach the development of leaders and leadership teams from the conviction that individual leaders are necessarily incomplete. As a result, effective leadership involves building a leadership team of complementary contributions; setting the direction in which the organisation needs to compete (i.e. the strategic contribution – the ‘head’); working effectively with others across multiple levels (interpersonal/emotional intelligence domain - ‘the heart’) and making it happen (operational domain - ‘the hands’).

When we work with clients we use the Primary Colours® Model of Leadership (or as we often refer to it, the ‘head-heart-hands’ model of leadership), to provide this shared understanding of leadership. We’ve found this simple way of thinking about leadership helps liberate leaders at all levels to understand where to play to their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses through the notion of complementarity, ultimately leading their teams to success.

Five Ideas That Underpin the Primary Colours Model of Leadership

1. Personality affects leadership behaviour, which affects engagement and performance.

2. Because personality is hard to change, it is highly unlikely that any one individual will excel in all the necessary leadership capabilities.

3. The best way to provide full leadership capability is to assemble teams comprising individuals with complementary capabilities.

4. To make this effective, leaders need to be skilled in collaborating with those who bring different contributions.

5. Shared mental models are key to enabling collaboration and constructive conflict.

Benefits of the Primary Colours Leadership Model

  • The model is task based – it is constructed by the tasks that leaders need to do which helps them to make sense of and effectively tackle the leadership challenges they face.
  • The model is simple and memorable, so it is readily understood, accepted, and acted upon.
  • It provides a common language for leadership and management.
  • Because the leadership model focuses on tasks, it can work alongside existing competency models, acting as an over-arching framework for leadership.
  • It guides individual and team development and provides outline architecture for talent management and performance management processes.
  • It allows for an assessment approach that reflects underlying psychological differences between people, therefore it takes account of the interplay between personality and performance.
  • Because it is based on broad leadership tasks and not detailed competencies whose importance depends on context, it enables comparisons (benchmarking) of leaders across functions, organisations and industries.