David Parkin, former Carlton Premiership Coach and his business partner Paul Bourke delivered a fantastic talk at a networking event I went to last week. It was called "Captain – Coach Leadership". Parkin, as he does, spoke very passionately even at 8am in the morning! It was inspirational and it got me thinking about the brand that our leaders create. There are some inspiring leaders out there, but the amount of 'managers' far out number our leaders. Leaders are celebrated for their successes. They are in the spotlight and there are so many levels of leadership within an organisation. The real heroes who go unnoticed are the people, the staff, the team. The people who do all the work. They are the real heroes in any organisation who are not celebrated. At the moment, they are pushed to the limits. My belief is that leadership is an honour, not a right. It is an honour to lead these heroes. These heroes will be trying to deliver what is required, stay engaged and motivated even when the leadership does not provide the environment to do so. And particular styles of leadership will make or break a team or an organisation.
Let's have a look at a few leadership brands and let me know if you relate:
1. Hip Pocket Leader
This leader is focused on the hip pocket. They are your numbers leader! Very strong on the fundamentals of business, your cashflow, profit and loss statement and staffing costs etc. They will throw out statistics, trends, plans to cut costs, tell you how much you cost the organisation and how much you should be selling to earn your worth. This type of leadership has been prominent in the past couple of years. What this leadership lacks is the ability to engage people, to connect. To sell a vision and bring people along on the journey. More than likely there will be a lot of structural change involved with this style of leadership which requires a leader to be a strong change agent and to powerfully lead the change. Something that this leader lacks. This leader will be able to communicate fiscal direction but lacks the ability to communicate and infuence a strong culture within an organisation that engages the hearts and minds of people.
2. The Title Leader
"Do you know who I am?" In my 20 year Corporate Career you have no idea how often I have heard that. This is the leader, and I use the term loosely here, which leads through fear. They want people to know the power they have, to feel the power they have and to fear it. This type of leadership nearly demands rolling out the red carpet, royalty is here and we need to watch our p's and q's in case we say the wrong thing and our career is jeopardised. This style of leadership does not encourage an open and honest environment where communication flows and is utilised to better an organisations image. You will generally find a fearful, muted workforce who will gradually become unhappier by the day leading to high absences and poor client service delivery.
3. The Mate
This leader is everyone's mate. And they call their staff mate, and everyone around them mate. Included with mate can be darl, honey, sweety. This leader needs to be liked and needs to be popular. These leaders are prevalent too and because they are everyone's 'best friends', when it comes to counselling someone they are faced with many challenges. Staff become confused if challenged because a couple of minutes ago they were sweety! They may be liked but do not often have the ability to reinforce the expectations they have of their workforce. There is no consistency to their leadership or their message. After all, what if someone doesn't like them? There is no real leadership, only a peer relationship. These leaders are in a no win situation.
4. The Authentic Leader
The world is crying out for these leaders. Leaders who have a deep sense of purpose and are true to their values and those established for the organisation. These are leaders who lead with courage and compassion. These leaders have a passion for their purpose, connect with their people, communicate a vision and practice self-discipline. They create a powerful and transparent culture encouraging two way communication. The most important thing is that they walk their talk and are aiming to be respected not liked. They will achieve the numbers game, no business can survive without it, but they have the ability to engage people in the process, giving them the power to make a difference. They celebrate the heroes, they know they achieve through others. They create followers through demonstrating trust and care. These leaders are consistent as they have a vision and know where they are heading. These leaders are few and far between and I'm really not sure why. After all, what is written here is not hard, it may feel a little uncomfortable at times, but to engage a workforce to work for you because they want to is to triumph.
Leadership skills can be learnt and you can create the leadership style you desire. The question is what brand of leadership do you want to be?
"The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet." – Theodore M. Hesburgh