General Leadership Instructional Leadership

Leadership Styles – What is your Style for 2020?

As a leader, we have style.  A way we lead our group.  Our leadership style impacts how our groups perform underneath us.  Our style dictates how those outside our organization perceive us in our actions.  Looking ahead to the year 2020 we should ask our self, what is our style?

Have you ever asked yourself that question?  Especially as a new leader?  What is my style?  How do I organize and take leadership of a group?  And most importantly, is what I am doing effective in the organization I am leading?  As a new leader in an organization, this question will drive your style and how you are perceived by those you are in charge of.

In the book, Great Teams: 16 This High Performing Organizations Do Differently by Don Yeager, four leadership styles are presented.  Consider the four styles that Don Yeager presents and ask yourself the question, is this the style I want to use and present to my organization?  Then ask the follow up question, is this the best style for my organization and the people I lead?  That leads to the final question, what can I do to become the leader I want to be seen as?

  • Command and Control.  This is a leadership style that many people are familiar with but may not be comfortable with.    Many great leaders are of this style.  They are in control.  The leader makes the decisions.  The leader does not draw on information from those below their position.  They may even micromanage their teams.  We must be in this role as leaders at times, especially when critical decisions must be made quickly.  A former principal of mine once said, “There are times I will make the decision.  That is what I get paid to do and sometimes I have to do it.”
  • Relational.  This is could be considered the opposite of command and control.  This type of leader takes care of people first.  They want happy teams and groups.  They are approachable and might even say “my door is always open” and it is.  This leadership styles build powerful relationships with their teams and can bring out the best in them.  These are leaders you would trust.  However, these leaders may also get caught in between people or groups by trying to care for everyone and, in the end, making more people unhappy.
  • Expert.  The expert knows his or her content or field.  They are extremely knowledgeable, have a highly specialized sets of skills and use this to guide their teams.  Their name carries high value simply because of what they know.  These are smart people, but with that, may come some of the challenges of simply knowing more than everyone else.
  • Charismatic.  These are people are visionaries.  They are engaging, fascinating people that can read an environment, scan and process the group, hone their words and actions to fit the group, and create vision and ignite the passion in the group.  These people are powerful leaders.  At its best, these people are great leaders, at worst, they are powerful social manipulators.  History is full of examples of both sides.

At our best, and worst, we fit every category.  We make decisions absent others, we build relationships, we are the expert, and we are the visionary for our group.  The trick is not to settle into any one category, rather to be in all categories, when we need to be.

Don Yeager calls it the “Synergistic” leader.  I have heard the word “Charismatic” to mean the same thing.  As a leader, we must learn to recognize when it is time to make decisions absent anyone else.  We need to know when to set aside our leadership hat and build relationships with others.  We should recognize when we are the expert in the room and step into that role.  And finally, we must be charismatic leaders and develop the vision to ignite the excitement in our profession.

I once observed a great example of a leader who was being synergistic in her role.  She was a professional volcanologist and one of the smartest people I have ever met.  In a talk about glaciers on Mount Rainier, she was fully in command of the group and answering questions.  She was leading the group.  Then, she was asked a question about plant life, which was not in her field.  Rather than answering the question, she asked for another park ranger who was in the group to step forward and answer the question because the park ranger knew more than she did.

We should all strive to become leaders who are willing to both lead, and step away and allows others to share the leadership roles in their areas of expertise.  In 2020, I encourage you to look at your leadership style and consider if it is what you want it to be.  Push yourself to build out the other areas of leadership that you find are not your strengths.  Become the synergistic leader you hope to become.

If you wish to read more about this topic, I encourage you to check out the book, Great Teams: 16 This High Performing Organizations Do Differently by Don Yeager.

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