Leadership Styles

13 June 2008

I’ve been asked a number of times to describe my leadership style.  To be frank, I find this to be a silly question.  It is similar to asking a painter which brush he uses.  The response will likely be “All of them”.

Leadership is a tool and is used in different ways depending on the circumstance.  The trick, as a leader, is to know how to modify your behaviour to match the people you are trying to lead and the situation you are in.   It involves understanding psychology, knowing the skills, knowledge and attitudes of the people you are trying to influence, and having a good idea what needs to be done.  Knowing these things determines whether you bellow like a drill sergeant or quietly lead by example.

Supposedly, there are many “styles” of leadership and you can easily find sites on the Internet that list three, or four or ten.  The differences in the styles varies but most rely on or assume that the followers will cooperate with the leader and recognize the authority in the leader’s position.  This certainly makes leadership somewhat easier.

But if you want a real test of your leadership capabilities, consider democratic leadership – not the pseudo participative styles – but leadership in situations where cooperation is not guaranteed and initially you have no authority.  If you can rise from the crowd and, with nothing more than your wits, get them to follow you, you will have proven yourself as a true leader.    You should also consider a career in politics.