>There are many leadership models around that can be very valuable for self awareness. This is an article I read today that I thought was an interesting and very personal perspective.
“One question bubbled to the top for me, that of: Who am I as a leader? Four dimensions emerged by which I might consider it. They’re by no means the only four, indeed they may not even be the top four, but they connect with me right now. I wonder, are they relevant for you too?
Strong … Soft
I’ve noticed that when I feel under (usually self-imposed) pressure, or when I am speaking on a topic I am passionate about, I often show up as ‘strong’. By this I mean assertive and direct – neither of which are necessarily bad things, and there are times when this is appropriate. However, the effect can be that I come across as brittle and unapproachable… a little scary even.
There is value for me in these instances to tap into my ‘softer’ side and bring it into play. I apparently become more accessible, warmer and more likely to bring people along with me. Ironically, perhaps, there is strength in that softness.
Intense … Playful
In a related way, when I feel passionate about a topic or am wholeheartedly committed to an outcome I am probably more likely to slip into a serious, intense state than go for a playful one. I admire those who, no matter what the topic, appear to be able to hold it lightly and have some fun with it.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that any of us are one kind of leader (or one kind of person) than another. I have my playful moments too! So the point of all of this is to recognise what is most appropriate in a particular context. For example, when I set out to gain agreement and buy-in for my ideas, being extremely intense about it might have the opposite effect to what I want to achieve – so it’s worth considering alternatives.
Facts / Data … Emotional (Stories)
There are times in business when it’s appropriate to present the facts. We spend a lot of time doing it, don’t we – on PowerPoint usually, and it’s helpful to make them look as pretty as possible, so we create elaborate pie charts and bar graphs to make the data more palatable. In organisations where the culture may appear to be a ‘facts-based’ one, it can be the first place we reach to sell our ideas.
Unfortunately, however, just because the numbers stack up, or the data seems to point to a particular solution, it doesn’t mean to say we will convince others. Convincer criteria for human beings are more sophisticated than this. Consider the example of initiatives such as Comic Relief. What makes us donate money? Is it the statistics about the number of kids in the world who are without clean drinking water? Perhaps it is, but I would wager that if we were to ask our friends about the point at which they picked up the phone, it would be more likely to be directly after seeing a film about when Lenny Henry visited a particular family who lived in an urban slum. The pictures and the stories speak volumes. When we make an emotional connection it is so much more powerful and motivating than the cold, hard facts.
Corporate Speak … Conversational
Professor Inkling delivers a wonderful example of what happens in organisations sometimes – the adoption of ‘gobbledygook’ or ‘corporate speak’. You may have experienced this – when companies develop a ‘language’ of their own. You can recognise it from well used abbreviations (TLAs), ‘in’ phrases and technical jargon. Perhaps it creates short-cuts in conversation, driving efficiency. Maybe it brings people together via a unique and shared language.
As a leader, contrast this with the ability to, and the impact of, simply saying things as they are. Campaigners for plain English are in favour of this approach, founded on the belief that everyone should have access to clear and concise information. Of course, the language we choose depends on our outcome. For me, if I want to connect and influence as a leader, a more conversational style seems to be the better choice.
So, what about you?
What dimensions are typical of your leadership style … and how might you flex these to get even better results in the future?
Oh, and a final thing. If I had simply said to you that intense people who take themselves too seriously are a bit off-putting, or that we’re more likely to persuade people to donate to charity if we share some personal stories, you would probably have agreed. We know this stuff intellectually. The real key here is to what extent we put this knowledge into practice in our roles as leaders.“
from Helen Krag of the Kaizen Team – www.kaizen-training.com