I recently spoke at a conference on Leadership. A portion of the presentation was centered on some simple concepts to prompt attendees to reflect upon their personal approach to leading. This was one of the “aha’s” I shared. “Be the leader you would like to have”. It sounds rudimentary, but it resonated with many and lead to several subsequent conversations.
When I think back over my career and time spent with clients, I was able to work with both good leaders and some that I would categorize as “not so good”. I worked with a client that was one of the best technical experts in their field and were known and respected for their technical expertise. This leader’s approach proved to be ineffective, and their company struggled to survive. Their default style was one of judgment, volatility and explosive anger resulting in a culture that was reactive at best. No matter how much they yelled, screamed, and fired people performance did not improve. Turnover at this company was extremely high and team members lived in fear of who was the next person to feel the boss’s wrath.
Another leader I worked with was very nice and seemed open to conversation when someone sought them out. They also softly avoided conflict at all costs. Team members loved the owner but remained frustrated and feeling that issues they brought forward would not be acted upon. They also observed team members who were destructive to the company and culture be disrespectful and at times knowingly produce bad product with no repercussions. It also created a very divided leadership team.
In assessing the effectiveness of their leadership styles, we uncovered similar outcomes perception of ineffective leadership with the company struggling to remain profitable. Other typical symptoms range from team members giving up, poor quality and unpredictable processes. People are looking to their leader to provide vision and set the tone for culture.
When I lead teams through a Strategic Planning or Leadership Development process, I often ask the participants to take a few minutes and summarize traits or characteristics of a great leader. Traits like these often are brought forward:
- Good listening skills
- Produces results
- Tough but fair
- Team focused
I challenge each of you to think about the kind of leader you are and if you are the leader you would like to have. Seek input from your team on their perception of your leadership style. It could be the first step in becoming a stronger leader and the becoming the leader your team is looking for.
Brian Van de Water
SPL Consulting, LLC.