Leadership is one of the words that gets thrown around a lot.  Everyone seems to have their own idea of what defines a good leader, and then they end up writing a book or an article telling us why this is THE way we should lead.  So, I thought – why not me?   But strange as it might seem, my ideal leader looks an awful lot like, well, like me.  And herein lies part of the problem.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about introverts and the value they bring to any organization.  If you missed that article, you can read it here.  Leadership attributes work much the same way; our differences bring unique contributions, but we have to value the differences in the way people are wired.

The longer I live, the more I have come to believe there is no ideal leadership style.  But the ideal does sell books and resources and we find ourselves attempting to attain the ideal.  But what if I, instead of trying to become the ideal leader, would focus on just becoming the best version of a leader that I can be – uniquely me.  Instead of falling into the leadership conundrum, what if I asked myself some simple questions that would help me see myself more accurately.  In reality, once I face the truth that there are several different leadership styles, there are ample opportunities to find complimentary leadership styles with whom I can partner.  Today, in terms of leading, it is typical that we look at leadership as a “we” instead of just a “me”.  Successful leaders I observe know this about themselves and about teams.

So here are some simple questions to ask yourself as far as your own leadership style:

  • Am I a “thinker” leader? Thinker leaders are the types that enjoy spending time in the world of ideas.  They often come at problems, be it staffing or product development, asking why.  Why can’t we pursue that initiative?  Why do people enjoy our work environment?  Why, why, why…  Usually these leaders have to work extra hard on their people skills because they can be easily misunderstood.  On the other hand, their ability to see new ideas that often impact tomorrow make them extremely insightful to work with because they show us the future.  Thinker leaders work best if they partner with a driver leader.
  • Am I a “driver” leader? Driver leaders are the type of leader that is passionate about moving vision forward.  They get really “twitchy” in situations where they have to wait.  They bring a sense of energy and excitement to an organization, because you can sense that they are going someplace.  And as their name implies, they will drive results.  These leaders can struggle at times with rolling over other team members because they are driving so fast.  Driver leaders work best if they partner themselves with a relational leader.
  • Am I a “relational” leader? Relational leaders are authentic and passionate people who are the first to ask what kind of impact an initiative or project has on people.  They are typically easy to work with because they genuinely care about the people on their teams.  But don’t mistake caring with weakness.  These leaders can be ferocious in situations where they sense people are being disadvantaged or in situations where the “system” devalues participants.  Relational leaders can struggle at times with getting certain tasks completed, and work best if they partner with a stabilizing leader.
  • Am I a “stabilizing” leader? Stabilizing leaders innately know that any great organization needs structure to be the most effective.  These leaders naturally enter the arena of the workplace and bring order from chaos.  They show their care for team members by creating processes that takes away the confusion that other team members don’t always anticipate.  They are also dependable stabilizers you can count on to get the right things done.  These leaders work best if they partner with thinker leaders.

Each leadership type brings tremendous value and expertise to an organization.  If rightly utilized, they bring a unique and needed view to any leadership team.  Without a balance of views, organizations can exhibit tendencies that can become unhealthy when pressed too far in one direction.  Next week I will explore some of these unhealthy tendencies with each leadership type.

So, what type of leader are you?  I would love to hear and understand how you see your leadership contributes to the effectiveness of your organization or team.

Until next time,

Dan