Comments /2737 Views / Wednesday, 9 December 2015 00:00
Leadership can be a sinking ship as long as only driven, darkly charismatic leaders who are lacking in character but are very strong-willed and even temperamental do helm the project – without sufficient regard for relational leadership ... and the position, plight, or possible contribution of other leaders around them... – Pic courtesy staticflickr.com//Daily FT Graphics
Last week, I argued that the way to extraordinary achievement in Country, Cabinet, Council, Committee, was recognising the value of #relational leadership. In that article (“Model Leaders” – And Models of Leadership, Daily FT: Wednesday, 2 December), my thesis was that identifying a plurality of leaders and #leadership styles, and investing in optimising relationships between leaders, was a chief cornerstone of outstanding success. And this week, let me sharpen the focus to highlight a paradigm of #leadership models or styles of leaders that business, society, country might benefit from...
Whether our governors know it, or like it, or not, they have been exercising #leadership all their political lives – not simply since the mantle of governance (good or otherwise) fell on them like manna from heaven. Of course, this means that they – and we – must accept and come to believe that #leadership (boiled down to its basics) is simply the influence we – and they – have on others around us. Without realising it, we have all attempted its definitions every time we write hagiographies about our beloved leaders; we have examined its essence on the occasions on which they fell short; we have discerned its principles – both in the observance and the breach; and we have distilled (or failed to distil) its values over generations of governments gone wrong or going from bad to worse.
To judge from some of their recent outbursts as reported in the media last week, it may be the case that some of our leaders – past and present – have felt challenged, and even chastened, about the dynamics of the #leadership they once exercised in their own spheres of influence. Perhaps part of the reason for any (shall we say) discomfort or (dare we think it) discouragement they may have been feeling, might be a burgeoning sense that they are not – or never were – quite the leaders everyone thinks or thought they were? At least, in the conventional sense!
But this sense of not belonging to any widely recognised or accepted #leadership practice might be founded on a misunderstanding. Perhaps there are past presidents (to take a random example) who are even now beating their breasts while they lament in sackcloth and ashes, bewailing themselves and their friends: “I am not a real leader, because …” (fill in the blank yourself, would you, dear reader?). The good news (if you can call it that) is that YOU – together with everybody else reading this – ARE called into some form of #leadership, stewardship, management:
So it will be more meaningful to accept – and affirm – the #leadership mandate which all of us have been given – by dint of being part of the nation-state, or by virtue of our native citizenship. With that said, a helpful way to appropriate one’s own #leadership mantle is to be aware that there is more than one #leadership mindset (you might even say that it is a #leadership style or preference).
In thinking and talking about #leadership styles, conventional wisdom often impresses us the most. So much so that we find it hard to break out of the mould of making these assumptions:
A.“Leaders are born, not made...”
B.Only ‘driven’, ‘charismatic’, super-organised people can become and be leaders
C.There is only one #leadership style that can guarantee the success of a project, organisation, institution, etc.
Today, the discerning citizen can – and must – challenge the status quo, thus…
A. A diversity of personalities, temperaments, character, call all of us to act as leaders
B. Being a ‘benevolent character’ is not essential to #leadership (per Andy Stanley)
C. Consider 360-degree #leadership (as John Maxwell notes) which means that you constantly influence others above, around, among, amidst, and below you
A first step in helping chief executives and everyday citizens alike to leverage our respective #leadership styles comes from a paradigm called the BIT profile (Behaviour Individuality Traits) and its attendant tests and descriptive analyses. It is primarily available in leadership guru John Jackson and management coach Lorraine Bossé-Smith’s insightful book, §Leveraging Your Leadership Style: Maximising Your Influence by Discovering the Leader Within [Abingdon Press: Nashville, Tenn., USA (© 2008)]. The history of psychology, however – from Hippocrates and Galen to Jung and Myers-Briggs – is rich with other paradigms and descriptors: humours, types, typologies, temperaments, personality profiles. The point of all these is that people are complex but definable; changing but describable; challenging to pin down and yet definite in the human sciences’ ability to characterise them meaningfully.
In this article, I shall present four distinct #leadership styles. By doing so, one hopes to issue a challenge to civic and governmental leaders as much as captains of commerce and industry and sundry business leaders to recognise, respect, and realign their #leadership relationships.
Strengths: Envisions big goals and marshals the troops to accomplish tasks. Practical and logical in outlining steps of action required. Leads the way by describing future goals with clarity and passion. Takes responsibility for achieving results. Is clearly in charge and appears to be in control of everything.
Weaknesses: Does not always take the necessary time and trouble to support, motivate, encourage others on the team. Tends to go it alone when there is little or no support. Can treat people as being unimportant in terms of the project. Impatient. Critical of opposition. Hostile to slackers in the group.
Opportunities: Sees the future on their own. Seizes the future together with others. Secures the future.
Threats: Deserts the uncooperative crowd. Follows their vision with passion, alone, to its mission’s-end.
Exemplars: A get-it-done former bureaucrat who held a key post in the Ministry of Defence.
Strengths: Inspires, instructs, influences, players in a project to work as a team. Dreams of winning big on behalf of the team at large. High-energy personality. Gifted with people. Enjoys working with large groups. A master at fostering team spirit and getting everyone on board as well as getting everyone excited.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t like hard and fast rules. Changes the way the game is played without notice. Asks a lot of the team upfront – and often has to ask for the team’s forgiveness later. Can be demanding of team members who are not playing well. Tiringly creative, frustratingly changeable, appears to be sometimes above the rules.
Opportunities: To provide inspirational strength, guidance, and direction to a team that is weak, struggling, disunited.
Threats: Destroys team spirit by being controlled by their inner emotions, which no one can see or know until it is too late.
Exemplars: A former commander of the Sri Lanka Army? A former Sri Lanka cricket captain?
Strengths: Cares deeply about others. Moved to tears by what others feel and experience, and good at guiding others to fulfil their individual purposes and personal sense of identity. Possesses an innate desire to make sure that interpersonal relationships are warm and stable at all times. Works well one-on-one.
Weaknesses: Can be too focused on the individual. Connects with the heartbeat of the person, but misses sensing the pulse of the team. Doesn’t always tap into the emotional energy of the larger group. Despite being empathetic to others, does not always communicate the group’s ideas clearly to others.
Opportunities: Purposefully connect the emotional strength of individuals to the team’s overall goals.
Threats: Derails the overall group effort by unreasonably insisting on the welfare or well-being of a few close to them.
Exemplars: A former banker and business leader who’s now a Deputy Minister?
Strengths: A highly systematic approach to almost everything in life. Super organised and in possession of ideas. Super informed and on top of details. Great at making – and also ensuring – that people follow deadlines, schedules, timetables. Good at maximising team resources. Communicates clearly, concisely, facts and figures.
Weaknesses: Gets so wrapped up in resources and processes that they tend to forget people and their individual personalities. Can become cold and critical and even appear detached from others when the system is not functioning smoothly. Tends to retreat into what they are most comfortable doing well.
Opportunities: To bring systematic organisation of a process out of the chaos of diverse personalities.
Threats: Destabilises the harmony of interpersonal relationships, being insistent on process/procedure.
Exemplars: A former, present, and possibly future Prime Minister?
Now that all of us know our respective #leadership styles, how do you think and feel about it? What do you think is the importance of each style? How realistic are you about yourself? Why do you relate to other leaders around you? What do you together with others need to do more of?
If our leaders and governors are good enough – or as good as they claim to be about guiding the nation into a genuinely new era – they will be able, and ready, and willing, to invest in the holy grail of #relational leadership.
This – in the increasingly ephemeral national interest – will of a necessity entail:
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