The truth about leadership

Whether you’re the leader of a company or the leader of a team within the organisation, getting your leadership style on-point is certain to be something of an obsession. As humans, we’re fixated with putting ourselves in boxes, and when we’re not doing it ourselves - we’re being typecast by others.

Defining a leadership style has been the subject of many books, lectures and online quizzes. We’re no fans of pinpointing a style and sticking to it as a number of titles suggest. Understanding the sort of leadership that is out there can however make you a more informed leader, one who can make better decisions and even make the most out of the team you so passionately support.

We don’t need better leaders

Most think that it is leaders who define their teams and the wider company. As we proudly champion throughout our blog roll, it’s the people that make things better.

Daniel Goleman defined six styles of leadership. Whatever your style, leaders, organisations, and the structures they both use must ensure an environment in which people can cooperate and collaborate creativity. Without this, the leader-team member relationship will be very much master-servant. 

Known as positional leadership, this traditional approach can prevent the building of networks that are integral to great teamwork and wider company success. There’s an even bigger problem with the positional leadership, as serial entrepreneur and self-confessed lover of life Maurilio Amorim details:

“Positional leaders without influence are dictators at worst and poor managers at best. People will ‘follow’ them until they find something else to do. If you’re not sure you have influence, ask yourself - ‘would my employee, team take my advice and direction if I were not the boss?’ If you cannot answer with a resounding, ‘yes,’ chances are you’re managing from a positional place and not leading from influence.”

Systems, not people, must change

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With positional leadership, too much emphasis is put on the power of the individual. With this in mind, it’s thought that the individual leader must make their team better. They must fix problems without the help or influence of their network. 

They must realise their team’s potential on their own. In a positional leader’s eyes, people have to be fixed to achieve. As a result, many of these leaders fall into the trap of prototyping behaviour to solve team issues.

No matter what behaviour is observed, the problem isn’t the person but the system that encourages such conduct. For example, difficult behaviour in meetings is more often than not down to poor engagement. A leader’s attention should, therefore, be on the design of the human systems that generate such behaviour.

Don’t be the hero

Heroic leadership is another style that should be avoided. Leadership shouldn’t, after all, be an act of martyrdom or a chance to confirm grandiosity. It should be an opportunity to change the habits so many leaders live by, become a better person and encourage the same constructive qualities in their team members.

By redesigning systems and procedures, and using them in a way that’s more people-focused, positive and enthusiastic, great teams can be made and better people ensured.