Thursday, February 26, 2015

Labeled leadership

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Shakespeare).

Leader vs. managerGiving names or labels to differentiate leadership styles today is a huge business of how to invent and make up names and buzzwords from what should be part of normal human relationships between leaders and followers.

In my search for different leadership styles I was astounded by the fact that most of the times there is a unification of two important, but different, roles: management and leadership. In my blogs: Leader vs. manager, To manage people, To lead people I have already explained the issue and am not going to repeat it here again.

leadership stylesI am astonished that there are more than 20 different styles for just naming ‘different’ leadership approaches. Of some of them I have written in previous posts (Servant leadership, Authentic leadership, Charismatic Leadership, Transformational Leadership, Participative Leadership, Humble or Agile Leadership so here I’d like just to mention some more “styles” that are floating around: autocratic, coaching, laissez faire, quiet, situational, visionary, transactional.

Well, do we need so many of them?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Leadership and behaviors

BehaviorsThis post I dedicate to certain behaviors of a leader that mostly all of us should be familiar with. The greatest challenge lays almost always in how to recognize and distinguish them. We may assert that “ill” manner of behavior creates poor business culture (e.g. Enron, Lehman Bros, etc.) which leads to poor business performance and output. But what kind of a manner is “ill behavior”?  Ever heard of badmouthing colleagues, taking credit for other people’s work, lying about skills and experience or hiding mistakes, cutting corners?

Leaders today talk a lot about loyalty, retention, business values, of empowering employees, changes in compensation structures to gain flexibility in work schedules, of team building etc. as behaviors needed for great performance of employee. This raises a question whether in any relationship the behavior is completely reciprocal? I don’t believe so, because one party always wields more power over the other. The example may be obvious already in US: workers these days are all multitasking and happy to have the job. They are certainly not going to complain if they work 10 to 12 hours per day without being paid for the extra time.

sleeping managementSome of us may have already experienced a so called ‘sleeping management’ that suddenly wakes up and demands to do ‘now’ for a work to be done ‘yesterday’.

Can such behavior bring or increase loyalty and engagement in the workplace? In a positive corporate culture extra work is a signal to hire extra personnel or part timer or maybe improve planning and performance approach.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Storytelling tool in leadership

What is the perfect tool to connect with, inspire or motivate another? If you are trying to sell something, present it, give a speech or you are just the audience, the difference between interesting and boring is storytelling.

Stories are changing the way we think, act, and feel and can capture our imaginations, illustrate our ideas, arouse our passions, and inspire us. If a story is well told it can create an intense, personal connection between the audience, the idea and the teller. Think just how you have been listening to them as a child.

Child-storytellingWhat exactly is a good storytelling - the art of using communication: verbal, tone and also gesture to tell components and metaphors of a story to an audience? Throughout human history stories were the actual building blocks of knowledge and by teaching them we learned to anticipate the possible consequences. Stories formed the foundation for memorizing events, persons or other data and to learn about them. That is why we could say that stories connect us with past, present, and future...

Could this tool be used in a business environment to form the foundations of a different workplace culture where hard facts failed to? Could this tool communicate and connect employees, customers, partners, suppliers, colleagues, and more?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Humble or Agile Leadership

leadership stylesSo far I have explored several types of leadership and what constitutes them. This post I dedicate to another two leadership styles that, considering their terms, could not have anything in common.

The first is ‘humble leadership’. In the dictionary humble means ‘having or showing a modest or low estimate of one's own importance.’ Well, hard to imagine a leader that has low estimate of his/her importance and leads well. But let’s see how different sources define it:

  • humility means being honest’ - why then do we have two words? 
  • a study on ‘humble leadership’ states that “when employees observed altruistic or selfless behavior in their managers … they were more likely to report feeling included in their work teams.” OK, I’m not to repeat again and again that management is not leadership, but would still point out that a leader that has emotions would surely have the same results. It is not about humbleness but emotions –Goleman would probably agree.
  • another research found out ‘that managers who exhibit traits of humility—such as seeking feedback and focusing on the needs of others—resulted in better employee engagement and job performance.’ 
  • Feedback is definitively not correlated with humility but rather with empathy and professionalism. 
  • the important attributes that a ‘humble leader’ has to have are: engage in dialogue, not debates; admit mistakes; embrace uncertainty and accept ambiguity; be open to others’ opinions; let people do their jobs; be balanced; secure and recognize. The very same attributes we have already seen in other styles of leadership.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Participative Leadership

When I first encountered the term “participative leadership” I was kind of puzzled. What kind of a leader cannot or does not participate? Is it possible to lead at all without participation?

participativeThe search offered some answers on the topic, nevertheless I was amazed that most authors won’t distinguish two important but different roles, managers and leaders: “… as it is within the managers' whim to give or deny control…” or “…in the participative leadership style, effective managers solicit input from subordinates …”.  Participative leadership pertains to leaders, doesn't it? (see: Leader vs. manager).

Another statement “a participative leader, rather than taking autocratic decisions, seeks to involve other people in the process” was pretty much familiar - the same definition was ascribed to charismatic leadership (Charismatic Leadership).

Among many more publications about participative leadership I came across the definition “… the leader turns to the team for input, ideas and observations instead of making all decision on his or her own.”  Well, can a leader really lead without inputs from his team? I sincerely doubt it.