The most common question a new manager is asked by direct reports is, “What is your leadership style?” And of course the answer is always, “I am participative.” Or, “I have an open door.” Rarely does anyone define what they mean by that. For that reason and others the failure rate of managers is higher than for individual performers.
Today I had the opportunity to be part of a group invited to listen to Ken Blanchard discussing building trust, creating positive work cultures, customer loyalty, leadership and organizational change. Ken reinforces some of the values and beliefs that been proven to create positive corporate cultures.
You have it wrong if you consider yourself a leader because you have been placed in charge. On the other hand a person with no direct reports can be a very effective leader. The reason that is so is that you need to learn how to lead yourself before you can lead others. Moreover, a change in your thinking will create energy and change in your life and you can affect others. In essence you seek to serve. According to Blanchard there are four dimensions of leadership.
Leadership with heart--
This concept of servant leadership is one in which a leader who encourages, supports and enables others. According to Blanchard, a servant leader has humility. Jim Collins, who wrote Good to Great, also concurs that humility and encouragement of others were several of the traits of his “Level 5 Leaders.” Now there is nothing wrong with self-esteem. To be clear people with humility don’t think less of themselves—they think less about themselves.
Leadership with the head--
A good leader is a visionary. A good leader begins with a clear vision that can be explained to others. A visionary role of leadership is one of “doing the right thing.” The other part of leadership is the execution of the vision and that is “doing things right.”
Leadership with the hands—
Leaders use their hands to produce good results. They help their people plan their performance and achieve. The leader stays with them not to manage but to coach them to reach their full potential. Performance discussions are necessary but not so that you can have a bell shaped curve. Why do you need a bell shaped cured in the first place? Don’t you want everyone to be successful at the right job? Blanchard slams those who talk about doing forced ranking. Instead of forcing someone to be a bottom performer why not attempt to lift everyone up.
Developing successful habits and behaviors is the fourth dimension. In my opinion, it is one of the most important. Consistency and accountability includes discipline and maintaining accountability relationships. Persistency and consistency and leading by example each day will change the culture of the organization.