Why Leadership Matters — Developing Your Leadership Style
This Series looks at why leadership is still important in an increasingly diverse and democratic workplace. We’d like to invite you to consider your own leadership style and invest in your leadership development. In turn you’ll be able to engage those around you and together you can reach your personal goals as well as your corporate objectives.
We’re going to look at five areas of leadership with the potential to change the way you do business. This week: Developing Your Leadership Style
ONE – What kind of leader are you?
Have you ever wondered what kind of leader you are? Or what kind of leader you’d like to become? Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes. At it’s simplest level leadership is influence and most people demonstrate it on some level in some sphere of their life. However the ability to identify and develop leadership skills – particularly your own – requires attention, commitment and courage.
Discovering Your Leadership Style
One of the best resources we’ve found for discovering your leadership skills is Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O Clifton. The book shows readers “what environments they flourish best in and helps them to make changes around them, how managers can better cultivate their employee’s talents, and how organizations inhibit the talents of their people and need to change.”
We’ve found it helpful to understand why you do what you do the way you do it! We use a number of these principles in our work where we use music to inspire the changes necessary to bring out the best performance in ourselves and those around us.
Leadership That’s Fit For Purpose
There are different schools of thought on styles of leadership. However it doesn’t matter whether there are Six Kinds or Four Kinds. What really matters is what style of leadership fits you. What works you in your current role, what works for your team and its purpose, and whether that fits your organisation and the season that it’s in.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter what your leadership style is. From the corporate to the charity sector, from the hospitality to publishing industries, every organisation has room for every type of leadership. Just not all at the same time. It would be of no benefit to your company for you to demonstrate great visionary leadership at a time when it needs a steady hand for a season. Or to micro-manage a department if what’s needed is the freedom to innovate in order to expand. Good leadership is as much about your surroundings as it is about your strengths.
Winston Churchill is considered by historians to be one of the greatest leaders of the last century. “Churchill was an effective leader and statesman because of his tremendous ability to inspire people; his unique strategic insight; his relentless passion; and his imperturbable personality.”
However although he was a good leader for war he was not the leader for peace. The electorate no longer wanted to feel the safe hands of a father-figure and to be reminded of hardship and austerity. They wanted to feel the hope and freedom of recovery. His leadership skills weren’t needed any more.
“Politicians are often rejected by voters because they have failed in office. But one of the reasons why Churchill lost the general election in 1945 was because he had succeeded in completing the almost superhuman task he had taken on in 1940, and in a way this made him redundant.”
In September 2015 Ralph Lauren stepped down as CEO from the clothing empire he founded over 50 years ago. He handed the reins to “Stefan Larsson, a rising retail star credited with reviving Gap Inc.’s Old Navy brand, to take over as chief executive officer.
The stock jumped 14 percent on Wednesday to $118.16, the biggest gain in more than nine years, underscoring the sentiment among investors that while Lauren is still the creative mind behind the iconic brand, a younger successor with turnaround credentials was needed to take on new challengers such as fast-fashion rivals and online merchants.”
Great leaders are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They recognise where and when their skills are most useful. They are able to respond appropriately and with courage in order to face the next challenge.
Leading Yourself Well
This Series looks at Leadership and five key areas of development for leaders. In particular it’s about knowing your leadership style and having the awareness and ability to demonstrate your leadership in the circumstances you find yourself in. It’s about recognising that leadership is less about skills and more about behaviour. It’s not do as I say, but do as I do.
We instinctively tend to trust and follow those people who are authentic versions of themselves. People who live up to the hype. We might start by aspiring to emulate those with influence and affluence above and beyond our own. However if – at a closer glance – we find that they have shattered personal lives, the cost ceases being worth the goal.
We want success but we may come to measure that success differently. What we need for enduring success is to build a foundation of good health, good relationships, and good living. In fact, learning how to lead ourselves well is the most important step towards leading others. It’s an inevitable outcome: if you do your job well, you will enable others to do their job well, and very simply put, that is what leadership is all about.
What Leadership Isn’t
Leadership isn’t just about getting things done. That’s Management – it’s short-term, it’s goal-orientated. Peter Drucker stated, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
Leadership isn’t short-term but it recognises how we do things today effects results tomorrow. It’s harder work but ultimately more rewarding and productive. The side-effects of good leadership are fruitful and far-reaching, as opposed to management which is effective but limited to the present. Management is not about the future. If you’re not going anywhere, you have nowhere to lead people to.
Leadership isn’t day-dreaming. It’s always about what’s next but it’s sufficiently present to engage with people where they are at, in order to go with them to where they need to get to. Enabling each person to do what they do best. For the benefit of the team, project or organisation.
Leaders Can Change
In our Know the Score® programme, we work with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra which enables us to provide our delegates with the experience of being up close to world-class performers. Recently, a corporate leader taking part in one of our sessions observed the conductor demonstrating different styles of leading the orchestra – some more controlling or more fluid.
We then asked the orchestra how the conductor’s different styles of leadership affect them as players. One of the players explained that during the detailed conducting it left him feeling dis-empowered; he felt that he wasn’t trusted. The delegate saw something of himself in that leadership style and the negative impact it was having on his team and was inspired to change.
Key Leadership Skills – Whatever Your Style
- Leadership is about service – towards the organisation or mission – rather than about being served by those you lead which is counter-productive and potentially destructive. Service as a leadership skill might seem counter-intuitive. However over-dominant leadership generally causes people to resist and push back against it which becomes self-defeating.
- Leadership is visionary. It’s been said that the only difference between a visionary and lunatic is that the visionary was right! However great leaders are grounded. They root their dreams in reality. They surround themselves with pragmatists, strategists, and activists to visualise and communicate where they’re going and what needs to be done to get there. They believe in the future they see – whether it’s a small thing like the release of a new product or the transition of a company from one stage to the next – and they are able to communicate it and what it takes to get there.
- Leaders are an enabling force, releasing potential in others. Because leaders see beyond what is front of them, they want others to see that too and if your team are only seeing what they are capable of today, they won’t step into what they are going to be asked of tomorrow.
Next in our Series on Why Leadership Matters is Teamwork – How to Lead a Successful Team
Using Music to Inspire Great Leaders
We work with businesses and organisations currently facing transition as well as equipping wise leaders to prepare for change before it happens. Through our conferences we’ve seen people embrace change, quickly and more effectively, leading to increased engagement and more productivity. Our creative solutions help teams express how they feel about change, and allow them to develop a greater understanding of how they can work together more effectively in a changing environment.