Know your leadership style or its early signs and how make it impactful

If you surf internet, you would find good amount of material and theories on leadership style. What I am not sure, whether these are good enough? Some theories are even confusing to people. There is apparently a perception that leadership is a complicated subject and therefore, what comes out from authors are, then, also complicated.

What I have observed is that most people, in current leadership position, either do not pay attention to their style and even if they do, they do not know what they can do to change it, if not effective. Several of them also believe that their style or trait cannot be changed. Some of them take lot of pride in saying “that is my style”, regardless people, whom they are leading, are impressed or distressed from their style.

Let me put together for current and future leaders, what works behind some one’s style and how it can be changed for best results.

Your style emerges from your behavior

Your ideas/thoughts drive your behavior/response, which in turn, drives your style!

In context of leadership, people usually respond to a situation or matter in one of following 3 ways:

  1. Respond with little or no thoughts, which results into action or emotion or both.
  2. Respond as per pre-conceived thoughts, which we know as mission or vision or both.
  3. Respond after thoughts that are governed by experience, which results in being analytical or conventional.

Therefore, your behavior can be classified into 6 patterns:

  • Action
  • Emotion
  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Analytical
  • Conventional

Under each of above patterns, your behavior falls in a range from (+) to (-), with center point (0) being neutral (not zero). Depending upon your position in this range, your Leadership Style emerges. You can well imagine that your behavior pattern would not be just one but more than one of above. Therefore, you would have several elements in your leadership style; however, by and large you would have 1 main and at least 2 secondary.

How your leadership style is formed

Action

In this pattern of behavior, you like to take definitive action for every event or situation, which you come across.

Example –

One of your team leaders comes and pins blame on his/her team members for dis-satisfaction of a customer. The range of your actions could be:

(-) Call all team members; show your utter angst and disgust. Tell them that their careers can get impacted and they would pay a price for their failure.

(0) Ask the team leader to investigate what had gone wrong; send you a note or report for further action.

(+) Call all team members and leader; understand what had gone wrong, you yourself suggest what are the possible remedies and preventive measures, lend your moral support to team and write to the customer, what you are doing to address his issue.

If your behavior follows above tendencies most of the time, then following styles would emerge in you as leader:

(-) action would lead to Aggressive Leader

(0) would mean you are Task Oriented Leader

(+) would make you Dynamic Leader

Emotion

This is mainly to do with how you react to or treat your people. At times, it could also be your reaction to a situation.

Example 1 –

An employee seeks meeting with you on how her/his supervisor has been unfair in performance assessment.

(-) You avoid meeting the employee citing reasons of your pre-occupation or you meet; but justify supervisor and state how you dislike such kind of complaints.

(0) You meet employee, sympathize with her/him and ask to perform better next time.

(+) Call supervisor first and assess whether issue is with him or employee. If issue is with supervisor, then mentor and coach him how he should handle performance assessments and suggest a way to correct his assessment, after your meeting with employee. Next, call the employee and listen to his/her view points. If employee is right, advice what he/she needs to do to bridge gap in the perception of supervisor of his/her performance. If employee is wrong, then explain what the issue is with his/her performance and how to address same to improve.

Example 2 –

You have one of your very senior manager as blue eyed boy; but an under performer.

(-) You continue lending your support, grow him over other performing managers and vehemently justify your actions.

(0) Considering his seniority and proximity to you, you grow him at the same pace as other performing managers.

(+) Give him time line to improve performance; after which an honorable exit.

Considering above tendencies, following styles would descend in you:

(-) leanings would lead you to be people unfriendly, egoist and playing games at your whims and fancies. You would be an Autocratic Leader.

(0) Your tendency to please all or most and avoid conflicts would drive you to be a Cheer Leader.
It can also turn your leadership style to what is known in French as Laissez Faire Leader i.e. to keep your hand off and give full freedom to the group or direct reports to manage.

(+) You would be people friendly, interested in employees’ development and a good coach. This makes you People Friendly or Coach Leader.

Note –

Two important categories of leader emerge; when above 2 patterns of behavior get combined:

Action (-) and Emotion (-) would make a Toxic Leader. Such leader could be very difficult to handle, would be ruthless and generally make employees’ life difficult; but could drive good performance of company.

Action (+) and emotion (+) would make you a Charismatic Leader, who would impact people and be dashing and darling of all!

How your Mission/Vision translates into your Leadership styles

 

 

 

 

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22 Comments
  • Ravi Athalye
    Apr 24,2012 at 1:16 pm

    Dear Murli,
    That was a refreshing view on Management Styles. During the course of my years in corporate world I have seen many of the styles. Your characterization is apt and your passion to consolidate the information is remarkable.

    I wonder independent of styles what is the final metrics that a leader must be measured by?

    Mother Theresa would say how many people have been relieved of suffering.
    Steve Job would be happy for his paradigm shifting innovations and their revenues

    But these are extreme end of the spectrum. Most managers are followers of a hand me down visions and systems.

    Would like to know your vision of a score board to self evaluate the leadership effectiveness. You have provided the pros and cons of styles. The balance between is perhaps based on individual talents, likes and visions. (Distinct from corporate visions)

    Again thanks for the perspectives and insights.

    Ravi

    • Apr 24,2012 at 1:35 pm

      Many thanks for your thoughtful comments. A leader is effective, when his or her behavior is always on the + side of the scale for each of 6 patterns mentioned in the post. This post in linked to 3 more posts. In the last one i.e. “How to change and make your leadership style more effective”, I have given an optimum matrix for a true leader. Depending upon how much one actually deviates from this matrix, the leader’s effectiveness would change.

  • Bhupati
    Apr 3,2012 at 10:34 pm

    We attend sessions on leadership, read books but we find it hard to apply in real life. Leadership styles mentioned here are with different flavors and are from everyday activities. Easy to introspect and correct ourselves. Cool stuff.

    • Apr 4,2012 at 12:02 pm

      Very aptly stated; thanks a lot! I must mention that currently available leadership courses, training or books worldwide are not adequate in the sense that one can not fathom what he or she needs to do to change and get there or be able to actually apply. I hope that these 4 posts would enable everyone to understand what exactly they need to do to Change!

  • Ajay Nichit
    Apr 3,2012 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks for your response. That is right this is my wish list for the leader in me.

    • Apr 3,2012 at 9:43 pm

      Very appropriate! I greatly appreciate you being candid.

  • Shajida
    Apr 2,2012 at 11:01 am

    Sir, really a good post. A very practical analysis on leadership.

    • Apr 2,2012 at 12:16 pm

      Many thanks for your feedback. I indeed appreciate it.

  • Ajay Nichit
    Mar 31,2012 at 8:05 pm

    Very Nice & practical analysis of leadership. Just to add my bit Leader means
    L-Lenient E- Easy Going A- Attentive D- Dedicated E-Example Leading R-Rational

    • Apr 1,2012 at 1:06 pm

      I am indeed thankful for your feedback! I appreciate you giving your meaning to Leadership. You would please agree that leadership meaning and styles have got to be understood in line with what we find in real life and how these get developed. This would help one developing his/her leadership qualities in a right way. Is my understanding right that meaning given by you is more of your wish list?

  • Naveen
    Mar 30,2012 at 7:32 am

    Yet another good post , a different way of looking at Leadership styles based on behaviour.
    Best Regards

    • Mar 30,2012 at 12:33 pm

      Thanks for your feedback! I do not know whether we can call it different way of looking at these. It is your thoughts/ideas leading to behavior, which results into a Style or Trait for Leadership.

  • Abhay
    Mar 29,2012 at 4:48 pm

    Very nice and good examples.

    • Mar 29,2012 at 4:58 pm

      Thanks you very much for your feedback!

  • Rudra
    Mar 29,2012 at 2:47 pm

    as-usual… nice post and as-usual… I’ve something to say… 🙂

    Summing-up all the 4 links/points here… yeah!! One should always be aware of his leadership style and what his subordinates think about him and deal him and vice-versa. The best possible way would be to imagine each other in each other’s shoes and build a friendly communication and comfort level – even if that requires the leader understanding some facts from his subordinates’ point-of-view. There’s no harm in learning from your juniors sometimes… 🙂

    You don’t lead any team by your own after-all… it’s your subordinates who make you what you are. And as they say – “A leader is as good as his team”. People may argue that some people are born to lead – well, that’s not true!! You can’t just make Ricky Ponting captain of a Zimbabwe team and expect him to bring you the World Cup, can you??

    So it’s all about enjoying each others’ success and participate in each others’ achievements.
    Your mission/vision should be as same as your team’s. You just can’t have your own goals and expect or force your team to help you in achieving them. It’s the leader’s responsibility to set achievable and realistic goals. Leaders should accept the very fact that it “actually” takes 9 months to deliver a baby after-all!! 🙂

    Experience does make a good leader, but not all the times and in all the cases. Look at our Cricket team captain for example… and look at the various successful Presidents across the world… I don’t think there are many older than ours?? Agree with you that experience does count but what is experience without correct attitude and confidence? I believe it’s a myth that we see in most organizations that prefer experience more than anything else. If somebody’s experienced enough, they make him the leader without looking at his attitude and confidence level.

    In my company, I would certainly prefer a young, confident enthusiastic leader rather than an experienced, low on confidence person who doesn’t have the courage to be in there. But true, there are really some aspiring experienced leaders out there from whom you can actually take a leaf or two from their book. Of-course you can’t buy that valuable experience from any super-market store near you… you eventually have to earn that to be a good LEADER!!

    Great post Mr. Lohia!! Keep them coming… 🙂

    • Mar 29,2012 at 3:57 pm

      You have indeed taken good time and great efforts to put down your valuable view points, observations and feedback. I am very thankful to you. Please make sure and tell your friends and colleagues, that what we think and believe as good, we must remain highly committed to implement/execute the same. You have very relevant thoughts; please keep it up.

      Now, most of the leaders, and for that reason the most of human beings are not able to link their good intentions and wishes to actual responses! When a leader sits in chair, he or she is driven by 1 or more of 6 behavior or response patterns mentioned in these posts, because his/her mind has been getting trained that way. These patterns keep making his/her thoughts/ideas consolidated, perceptions stronger and beliefs firmer. That is the reason, that you see so many traits or styles of leadership (or varying nature of humans). It a fact that most men deal with “good knowledge or thoughts” and “actual attitude or action” with 2 separate yardsticks. And then they believe what they are doing is right or they can not do anything else or can not change! This is where these posts suggest that stop the myths and get real, to bring a change.

  • Pranav
    Mar 29,2012 at 12:48 am

    Very nice introspection about leadership
    Very useful

    • Mar 29,2012 at 12:32 pm

      Thanks a lot; I am very pleased with your feedback!

  • Fred Voll
    Mar 29,2012 at 12:11 am

    Very good insights, Murli. I like reading your postings.

    Fred

    • Mar 29,2012 at 12:28 pm

      I am indeed thankful to you for your feedback and interest!

  • ajay koul
    Mar 29,2012 at 12:05 am

    Useful thought!!

    • Mar 29,2012 at 12:17 pm

      Thanks a lot!

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