While there are many definitions of leadership, probably my favorite is - “Leadership is inspiring others to pursue your vision within the parameters you set, to the extent that it becomes a shared effort, shared vision and as a result a shared success.” (Zeitchik, 2013)
Before getting into further discussion on this subject, let’s make sure we understand and
accept the fact that management and leadership are two entirely different things. Often times these two terms are used interchangeably but, as writer and consultant Peter Drucker once stated – “Management is doing things right; while leadership is doing the right things”.
Where we start to run into organizational challenges is when we start to look at leadership styles and how they may or may not fit with the environment in which very specific results are expected.
For the purpose of this discussion I would suggest that there are probably at least six different leadership styles.
1. The “Follow me leader”, this style works best when a new direction is needed. Focuses on the end goal and depends on the team to provide the means of getting there.
2. The “Do as I do now leader”, this style is usually a good match to an already motivated and skilled team where quick results are needed. Long term, however, can overwhelm team members and frustrate individual motivation.
3. The “People come first leader”, this style usually works well when healing is needed within the group for any number of reasons. It depends on building relationships with the team and convincing them that they belong to a family of folks seeking a common goal.
4. The ”Let me help you improve leader”, Uses a coaching style to help the team develop long lasting skills that will serve them in the future. Is the least effective in situations where the team is unwilling to learn and/or doesn’t trust the skills of the leader.
5. The “I’m the boss leader”, this style follows a “just do what I tell you” philosophy which works in times of crisis. Unfortunately it also can alienate team members and block individual incentive and creativity.
6. The “Consensus leader”, this style enlists the input of all team members on solutions for the challenges being faced. It encourages team members to take ownership and become a part of the solution. This style doesn’t work well in emergencies or when team members are not informed enough to offer creative suggestions.
As we look at all of these leadership styles, it is incumbent upon the true leader, who is seeking long term effectiveness and therefore success, to be able to adapt to any and all of these styles based on the situation and the need of the team members individually and collectively.
Teams are destined to be made up of different personalities, different skill sets, different individual goals and different needs in terms of what motivates them. It is the leader’s responsibility to assess and fully understand the different elements of the members of their team and as a result be able to maximize the potential of the team.
That’s why we have many more managers and fewer great leaders. What kind of Leader are you?