The 4 Components for Success in Every Job and Company

…And Even at Home

What if you discovered the 4 elements that can provide profound success in your professional life? As an organizational leader, what if those same 4 elements applied to the increased success of your organization?

As a bonus, these 4 ingredients can be applied to enrich your personal life, boosting your own happiness.

Decades of groundbreaking global research by Human Synergistics has demonstrated that there are 4 categories of leadership and organizational practices that produce the greatest effectiveness across individuals, teams, and organizations. What is remarkable is how consistent the effects of these styles are across every demographic. Regardless of age, gender, organizational role, even culture, people share consistent results across the globe. In addition, they have shown to be the core aspirations for leaders, managers, individuals, and organizations as a whole. That is to say, when people are surveyed about how they should act to maximize their own or the organization’s success, there are 4 styles that shape their ideal behavior. Put another way, people intuitively know the things that make us more effective as individuals and within organizations.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Human Synergistics calls these the Constructive styles. Their designations for the 4 Constructive styles are Self-Actualizing, Affiliative, Achievement and Humanistic-Encouraging, measured by surveys such as the Life Styles Inventory™ (LSI) and Organizational Culture Inventory® (OCI®).2, 3

These styles are translated into what I call the “L.E.A.D.” program.


The “L” in LEAD stands for the “Learning” aspect of Self-Actualizing. It involves developing oneself—realizing your potential as an individual. In truth, “self-actualization” involves a range of other behaviors, but for individuals and organizations, establishing learning goals provides enormous benefits. This is especially true in an era of rapid changes in roles, where industries are suddenly upended, and organizational “pivots” require greater agility and adaptability.

The “E” in LEAD stands for “Engaging,” related to the Affiliative style. It involves how you engage with colleagues. Each of us is engaged in and creates a community. Developing community in a constructive way provides the fulcrum for realizing the benefits of everything in LEAD.

The “A” in LEAD stands for “Achievement.” It involves setting goals, stretching yourself, and maximizing your accomplishment. I have found that the best system for setting and achieving goals is using Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs. I’ve written about the benefits of OKRs elsewhere, and can’t emphasize enough how powerful this practice can be. An OKR program can be the structure for achieving each of the other LEAD objectives, in addition to facilitating the accomplishment of other important personal and organizational goals.4, 5

The “D” in LEAD stands for the “Developing” aspect of Humanistic-Encouraging. While learning involves developing yourself, developing in this context is facilitating the growth of others. It has been said that developing others is a responsibility of leaders, organizations, and even teams, and doing so has been demonstrated to increase effectiveness across these levels.

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.
–Jack Welch

Each of these practices can be implemented on your own or developed through organizational programs like performance management (though I would rename such a program using the LEAD model a “performance culture development” program). Obtaining feedback on your individual development practices through tools like SurveyMonkey, and using OKR management software, like Weekdone (for both individuals and organizations) and BetterWorks (especially for larger organizations), can help sustain your success with these practices.

To your success!

Editor’s Note: Michael posts a newsletter which provides articles from around the world that can help you develop each of the LEAD practices. To ensure you receive the newsletter by email, please sign up here.



1 Boglarsky, C. A., & Kwantes, C. T. Who is happy and why? Subjective well-being and associated thinking styles of US and Canadian students. Presented at the 17th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Society, Los Angeles, CA, US, 2005.

2 Lafferty, J. C. (1973). Life Styles Inventory™. Plymouth, MI: Human Synergistics.

3 Cooke, R. A. & Lafferty, J. C. (1987). Organizational Culture Inventory®. Plymouth, MI: Human Synergistics.

4 Yarrow, J. (2014). This Is The Internal Grading System Google Uses For Its Employees—And You Should Use It Too. Retrieved from

5 Kern, M. (2017). Fix the Folly of Your Annual Plan – Use OKRs. Retrieved from

About the Author

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Michael Kern

Michael Kern is an executive with over 20 years of experience leading the HR function in start-up ventures and established organizations. He's worked with public and private companies in industries including software, telecommunications, engineering consulting, and medical devices. His Human Resources leadership has enabled organizations to achieve INC 500 status, to be recognized among the “best places to work,” to grow from start-up to successful acquisition and to expand from a locally focused business to become a global competitor. Michael assists colleagues to further their success with a personal or organizational LEAD program; to learn more, sign up for his newsletter.