What kind of leader are you? How would your team describe you? Do you even consider yourself a leader at all?
These are all important questions to answer, when you are put in charge of people and expected to provide them with direction. However, there are lots more, such as:
- How are my team doing?
- Do my team know what they are meant to be doing?
- Am I communicating effectively with colleagues?
- Am I measuring our performance?
- What am I doing to help our performance
- How can I support my team better?
- Have I asked my team what they think?
- What actually needs to happen, for us to all achieve results?
- What are the personalities in my team and how can I work best with them?
Every single one of these is a leadership question. Many of them are also management questions. And, as a matter of fact, not one of them imposes the “I’m your Boss” mindset of the cover image.
Whose line is it anyway?
When considering what kind of leader you are, perhaps it’s best to start with the kind of leader you need to be. And actually, you don’t get to define that. That definition is most definitely sourced in your colleagues, your team and, to some extent at least, your organisational values.
Imagine being a nurturing manager that didn’t drive for results, in a fast-moving manufacturing firm with clear targets. That’s not going to go down any better than a results-obsessed manager pushing their team harder and harsher, in a company that has its staff wellbeing as a brand identity. Some big brands have fallen spectacularly foul of that in recent years.
What are the options?
Well, you could be an autocratic leader, who enforces the “my way or the highway” mantra. Very 1970s. Outdated and out of touch. Nevertheless, they’re handy when there needs to be a hard decision taken. Great for clarity, if not staff wellbeing.
On the other hand, you could be a consultative leader, always asking “what do YOU think?”. Great for engagement, but probably rubbish at actually making a firm decision based on their own principles and expertise. This kind often seem to manage the frustrated perfectionists I coach; they bemoan the lack of direction and clear vision.
On the other hand again, you could be an chummy leader, trying to be everyone’s mate. This can lead to accusations of favouritism, bias and also indecision. I have worked for these in my time. Although fun on occasions, it descended into agonising farce as factions build up around them and you saw the “leader” failing to lead anyone, including themselves.
There is another way
To be specific, there is another range of ways. And that may sound as woolly as the consultative or chummy leaders above, but it isn’t. As a matter of fact, a successful leader needs to have a range of behaviours in their toolkit, which they can deploy as the need arises.
- A successful leader needs to be agile. By this I mean prepared to experiment and take calculated risks, as well as being metaphorically fleet of foot.
- They also need to be able vary their style according to the situation. There’s still a lot of good to be gleaned from Situational Leadership all these years on.
- In addition, the successful leader needs to be humble, prepared to allow others to take the credit they deserve.
- That leader also needs to be a strong communicator, able to convey ideas succinctly but also with inspiration to motivate and entice colleagues to achieve results.
- They need to be a collaborator, prepared to ignore their own ego and build shared plans and visions for the greater good.
I could go on.
So when you are thinking what kind of leader you are, or you want to be, there’s actually a whole lot of things to consider. If you are new to leadership (or about to set out on that journey) you might well benefit from finding local networks of like-minded people. On the South Coast of the UK we run Future Leaders Breakfasts® – FLBs – specifically for that purpose. If you don’t have an FLB near you, you could always get in touch to see if we can open one up with your company. If you are further along that leadership path and want it work better for you and your colleague, you might want to get in touch. That’s precisely the kind of challenge my clients deal with all day, which means I deal with it all day too. You may well find that coaching will help you find the leader you can be and that your team deserve.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.