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So, What’s Your Leadership Style?
One of the best and funniest questions I think I have ever had posed to me was during an interview for a College President position. The question—so, what’s your leadership style? I could not hide the smile that accompanied my answer—“I’m sorry, I am afraid I do not understand your question.” The interviewing committee seemed shocked. After all, it was a straightforward question, and this is a retired Marine Officer. Clearly he understands the question.
Readers, listen-up! Leadership is a subtle skill that is devilishly difficult. It is intangible and difficult to measure. Leadership has a quality that stems from a number factors: the ability to provide a clear vision, the ability to control and direct, self-confidence, expert knowledge, and a sense of responsibility, to name a few. There is no one style of leadership. Organizations are made up of people. It is rare that what one person requires to be led properly is what another person in the same organization requires. Some employees are the proverbial self-starters, needing little day to day, hour to hour guidance.
Others require constant monitoring. Each may be excellent employees but in need different styles of leadership. Those in leadership positions also have a responsibility to provide leadership to their customers, vendors and board of directors; I will address those leadership responsibilities in a future writing.
Am I saying that to be a leader one must be all things to all people? Yes, and no now there is a clear as mud answer. Yes, in respect that the leader is responsible for everything that happens in the organization or fails to happen, and no, in respect that the leader should not twist in the wind like a weather vane in an effort to coax employees to their best efforts. Here, are a few tips that will be useful for the seasoned executive and the newest entrant to the leadership world: provide a clear and shared vision for the organizations future, model, and be fair, firm, and consistent.
Provide a Clear and Shared Vision
A clear and shared vision motivates and rallies the work force. A clear vision is the north seeking arrow of the organization. A shared vision generates motivation and commitment. It is not simply top down driven but includes members from various levels of the organization in its development. By the very nature of the development, the vision has rapid buy-in from employees who put the vision into action.
When I speak of modelling, I’m saying set the standard. Integrity, having the courage to do what is right because, well, it is right. Sounds simple, it clearly is not. The latest departure of Yahoo executive, Scott Thompson ostensibly a health issue but seems more the result of a cloud hanging over his head from a lie found in his resume. Modelling is all about the understanding that employees look to their leadership, at all levels, to walk the talk, not push the boundaries of ethics because it is legal. Rather to stay within the boundaries because it is just.
Fair, Firm, and Consistent
The term fair, firm, and consistent I first heard as a young Marine Lieutenant. It was rested out in simple terms because it is such a difficult thing to do. Fair, I have heard is a relative term. No, it is not. Fair—treat everyone the same. Firm—hold your ground. Right is right and no declaration is required. Wrong, is wrong; admit it and move on. Consistent—Leaders do not have the luxury of coming in one day and being happy as a lark and the next day mean as a snake. No one cares that the leader may have had a lousy evening. It does not matter. What matters is that the leader projects a consistent picture of calm, professional leadership to your employees.
There is no one leadership style. The best leaders understand that many they lead may need a little guidance some may require more. The singularly best leaders know that they lead by providing their organization with a clear and shared vision. They provide a model worthy of emulation; they are fair, firm and consistent.
Do you have a leadership style, really?
Colonel John Boggs U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.) works with outstanding leaders to leverage talent in order to dramatically improve performance and rapidly exceed goals. Read more on Women Leading Men at www.fortitudeconsult.com/resources/articles
Fortitude Consulting, LLC
By John Boggs