Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Leadership, stylized

I was interviewed yesterday by an MBA student on leadership styles. It got me thinking, rather quickly, about my 'style'.

His first question threw me off. "What was the journey towards developing your leadership style like?" I was taken aback because I never saw it as a conscious path of sorts. I started discussing my career path instead, emphasizing the points when I started to 'manage'. I pointed out that I started 'managing' even when I didn't have any direct reports (I don't like using 'subordinates'). I had to accomplish many things through people, though I don't supervise them. That's where I got to 'lead', with no formal structure supporting this role. It honed my emotional quotient. I had to build credibility, exercise empathy, reach out to be able to make things happen.

Then eventually, I assumed formal management roles and responsibilities. In a sense, it was easier. Technically, I could just pull rank and get the job done. But because of habit, I rarely played that card. I still used my 'informal methods', and made sure that the environment I built allowed the people to grow, to be empowered yet accountable. Not everybody responds in the same way though. So I would use the 'stick' from time to time.

I believe I have been effective to a certain extent. The company has grown. But the latest challenges are making me rethink my strategies and styles. My leadership has not delivered the results that were needed. I need to evolve.

My style may have an unchanging core, but the style needs to adapt. Technology offers me new ways to reach out, learn and manage, perhaps more effectively. It also gives me access to infrastructure (systems and policies) for more consistent management and control. I need to be on top of that.

The core of my 'style' is relational, even familial. I rely on the formal and informal pathways to influence and to get feedback. Leadership by example, service leadership. These are key terms I like hearing, and I try to practice. Finally, I like inspiring people towards a goal, a vision. I'd like people owning that dream and be motivated intrinsically.

What's your leadership style like? How do you get people to do what you want them to do, what should be done?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

1 comment:

Seth said...

I just learned a new one. They can die in their old world or they could live in my new one.

- Khaleesi