Thursday, April 26, 2007

What type of leadership style do you use and how effective is it?

The question assumes there are styles of leadership. We may think there are because "leadership styles" has been a part of our vocabulary as pundits have sought to explain how some people appear more effective leaders than others. This gets a lot of attention because we have a deep rooted survival concern about the exercise of power.

If you find these "styles" obscure, hard to relate to and/or not relevant to how you experience yourself with others take heart, you are among friends! The styles are caricatures or even cartoons, representations of the perceptions of observers who have seen and described patterns of behavior according to some framework they have chosen. These style are not real! Leadership is about something else.

Here are the facts. Let's define leadership as influencing others in a way that they change their behavior to better accomplish some goal. There are only a couple of ways to do this. The first is by manipulation, which is not leadership because it attempts to remove choice, it dis-empowers. The second is by behaving in a way that others resonate with the action and its apparent purpose, they become empowered - e.g. Rosa Parks sitting at the front of the bus.

That's leadership in action but what did she really do? She changed her own behavior to better accomplish a goal of her own. Others followed (the bus boycott) because they admired her example and supported the issue she raised. She led by doing what she needed to do and others discovered they could do the same. Everyone has led something at some time. Check your own behavior for when people follow you. I bet you were simply doing something you're passionate or enthusiastic about. You were really leading yourself.

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