What Sort of Leader Are You? And What Can You Do About It?
A leader is someone who takes you to a place you would not have reached on your own. Leaders have power over others. Some are given their power, some have crafted it carefully during their careers and others have always had it. There are only five sources of leadership power: position (political); intelligence; charisma; experience; and physical presence. In proper proportion, these can combine to create charming and effective leaders. Let them get out of proportion and you will find a monster in charge of your business. Let’s take a more detailed look.
A positional leader is the person with the power, the gal in charge. She may or may not have any other endearing characteristics, but what she says goes, or you do. If all a leader has is authority, without the intelligence, the charm and the courage that you need to make a business a success, the chances are the business isn’t going anywhere. The power alone is the least valuable attribute of leadership.
Intellectual leaders see solutions to things. They are the people who have the ideas. They may or may not have much political power, so a good positional leader makes sure she knows who these people are, and encourages, empowers and includes them in the leadership of the business.
Charismatic leaders have a lot of emotional intelligence. You will often see this in big business leaders because emotional intelligence, combined with the right level of political savvy, is essential to get on in a corporate environment. Charismatic leaders empathise and enthuse; they network and build strong and enduring relationships in all directions around them, but particularly upwards.
Experiential leaders speak with authority because they have been there and done it. They know what to do and what not to do. They understand the pitfalls and how to avoid them. Experience helps you understand what level of information you need to reduce risk and to make better decisions. A leader with experience is formidable.
Physical leaders are visible and courageous. They will take risks with precious things, like their careers, that perhaps others may not. They lead through action rather than talk, and people like it. It is often what you do as a leader that people really take notice of, not what you say. Being committed to a policy, or a course of action in your business means nothing unless you put time for it in your diary.
So, what sort of leader are you? One of these types will be dominant in you. If you don’t know, ask the honesty leader in your company because they will tell you.
If your power comes primarily from your position in the organisation, you may find yourself surrounded with people more able to come up with solutions, to motivate people and to take calculated business risks than you are. You have a choice, get a copy of The Prince (Il Principe) by Machiavelli, or enrol the organisation’s intellectual, charismatic, experiential, and physical leaders into your team.
If your power comes from your intellectual leadership, you may find that you will be more successful and happier working in a smaller organisation, or on your own, selling your ideas and expertise. If not, you need to find a political leader who is short on ideas to ally yourself with.
If your power comes primarily from your charm, hang on in there; it may just be enough to win you political power. You will probably find that the political leader likes you anyway. Don’t most people?
If your power comes predominantly from experience, you have a valuable knowledge base that can provide you with great leverage. You can trade it, like a commodity, for other things, because it will be widely valued.
If it’s a physical thing, you will need a fair degree of intellectual leadership to make headway, to persuade the political leader to take the risk. Without it, you may be seen more as a liability than an asset.
The top job in any company is a role with both practical and symbolic significance. Leaders carry the can; they get moved on to signal dissatisfaction, or to signpost change. Sometimes, if they are lucky, or very, very, good, they also get the rewards. Leadership can also make you feel isolated. It can be a demanding and lonely affliction, particularly if you haven’t asked to be there.
The aim of every organisation should be to appoint a schizophrenic leader to the top job. What you want is a leader with experience, who can motivate when she has to, come up with (or at least recognise) a good idea, be prepared to take a few risks and use her power wisely to create wealth and success. Unfortunately, people like this are in very short supply.
So, my tip to every aspiring business leader is simple. If you don’t have a split leadership personality, acquire one or don’t apply because otherwise it will only end in tears.
Which sort of leader are you? And what are you going to do about it?
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