What Kind Of Leadership Style Are You?
“People buy into the Leader, before they buy into the vision.” -John Maxwell
Why do your people need to buy in to you first? Like driving a car, I can’t commit to going the distance if the car is poorly maintained and out of gas. Most people want to be led, because the alternative is too hard. Let’s face it, leadership is hard work, but if that’s what you signed up for then you have to accept the responsibilities that go with the job.
Your people expect you to be decisive, have a clear vision and to lead from the front. To be effective, you need to be genuine and transparent in your actions as well as your thoughts.
Finding Common Ground
Today’s workplace probably reflects as diverse a workforce as we have ever had. People come from different ethnic groups and cultures, and have different religious beliefs. They have vastly divergent perspectives based on age and other demographics. The effective leader must be able to transcend these differences and unite people around a common interest. The more trusted you are, the more likely it is that your message and vision will come through.
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An important feature of the definition of trust is the degree to which you allow differences to be heard, and when appropriate modify your decisions based on “new information.” Sometimes a leader is led by his or her people, because they are closer to where practicality dictates direction. So be open and receptive.
To be open to the input or feedback from your people is to allow “Constructive Conflict.” Because of the diversity of the workforce, different perspectives need to be heard if your vision is to become reality. You can only succeed where your people turn your thoughts into reality. That may require discussion and debate, reflecting differing viewpoints that improve the likelihood of success.
That said, decisiveness is probably the most desired quality in a leader. At some point someone has to make the final decision and give direction. If you want a healthy workplace, be clear and decisive so your people know what they need to do.
General Stanley McCrystal talks about leadership style challenges in the Middle East and how, although military units were able to execute missions perfectly, the results were less than desired.
They became more effective when they learned to team with diverse agencies, borrow each other’s best practices and execute keenly, but not necessarily perfectly. “Perfect” is not a likely state in a highly fluid, fast-paced environment. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Sometimes good enough is good enough.”
Good leaders delegate authority for their people to perform in a decentralized state. They empower them to make decisions and to accept accountability for their actions.
Don’t make “accountability” a dirty word. It is not just about taking the blame – it is also accepting the success. Most importantly, some of the best lessons learned come from failure. So inspire your team to do their best, but if failure is an outcome, then fail fast, learn from it and fix it. You will have a stronger team in the end.