Let me wrap up my thoughts on the subject of ‘leadership naming/labeling’, i.e. different leadership styles that keep up coming in last couple of decades.
To better understand my points, allow me to present some important “ingredients” that remarkable leaders should possess. In previous posts on the topic I've described some examples of different constituents of leadership: Leadership and Charisma, EGO and Leadership?, Leadership and influence, Leadership and emotions, Inspiring others. All these frame the whole plethora of important views on leadership process. I have separately portrayed different “substances” necessary in leadership.
What then is a good leadership? Is it all about different behavior, different styles, or how to name label in front of leadership? Could it be that a good leadership is just one of those qualities that you recognize when you see it, but is so difficult to describe?
Leadership is a topic that was searched, described and discussed from different angles for quite a long period of time. In the oldest known military text of China (circa 400 BC) the Art of War it says ‘the leader of armies is the arbiter of the people’s fate, the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril’. Still today it is not so different. At a recent World Economic Forum event in San Francisco Klaus Schwab defined with just four words what it takes to be a successful leader as brains - deep knowledge in their area of work, soul - clear values, heart - passion and compassion, good nerves - to be bold and able to move toward vision even with incomplete information or at risky odds.
Once I have read that the basic principles of leadership are “simple” like in the game of chess. One has to figure out all the ways to apply rules with a variety of people in a multitude of situations. Like in chess, it takes a life time to master it.
The quote by John Quincy Adams (US President 1767-1848): “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”, seems very appropriate in discussing this subject as it frames directly what a leadership is and should be in its core values. And there are no styles mentioned?
I don’t believe that leadership has changed in the past five, fifty or hundred years. The reason for all those labeling/naming, in my humble opinion, lies in the market for all these styles, because there are so many people without natural leadership ability that have become managers and want to lead. It seems to me that the real aim of packaging, repackage and redefining leadership every few years is just to sell books, earn from consultancy or coaching and workshops. It is all about selling lessons and painting leadership profiles to create “facades” of leadership.
No matter of the label/name or style a good leader is the one who achieves and usefully leads the group towards the common goal where it ends with people saying “we did it ourselves” (Lao Zi)!
Your comments on whether there is any added value to all those names/labels of different leadership styles are more than welcome.