What’s shaping your leadership style?

You are not the leader want to be, can be, or should be. That’s an in-your-face statement. I wrote it to make sure that I would have your attention. So, you’re a leader. You have strengths, abilities and unique qualities that brought you to this point in your career. Yet, most of your success can be narrowed down to just a couple of strengths where you really excel and shine – where you’re in your groove and at your best. Maybe it’s how you communicate and inspire others. Maybe it’s your attention to detail and accountability. Maybe it’s that tenacious nature of yours that keeps you going, overcoming obstacles in your way. Maybe it’s your honesty, compassion for others and trustworthiness. All are essential attributes, but in the real world, there are forces at work that can dial down your strengths and even cause them to diminish.

The opposing force of strength is weakness. Everyone has weaknesses – things you’re not good at, things that get in your way, things that slow you down. And when you have to do something that plays to a weakness, you derive little, if any, satisfaction. You just want to get it done or you avoid it entirely. You need to be aware of your weaknesses and ensure that they don’t dial-down the potency of your strengths.

Consider this common leadership scenario: You have several major change-resisters in your business. Some are outspoken and always seem to have the ear of other team members. Others are more passive aggressive and give the impression that they’re onboard, but their actions, behaviors and performance tell another story. They resist change or new systems simply by not engaging – like a gas engine with a piston that doesn’t fire. It goes through the motions like the other pistons but it’s not contributing and saps energy. You’re the leader. You need to pull your team together and perform, but you’re up against some challenging forces.

Let’s say you keep pushing and prodding your team to perform. You have conversations with your change resisters. You see glimmers of hope but the old behaviors just keep coming back. You dive into leadership mode again, and again the old behaviors resurface. But each time you re-engage to get all of your team’s pistons firing in sync, your level of intensity keeps dialing back. Eventually, the change resisters wear you down, and you accept the current level of performance as “normal.” Your weaknesses, or as I call them, your leadership blockages, shape your leadership style into something less effective.

Those great leadership attributes that define you are still present; they’ve just been dialed down, or in some cases, sequestered. Consider these strategies to dial them up again or, if necessary, set them free:

  • Retake control of your leadership style: What would it look like if you showed up to work as the leader you know you are? I’m not saying you go home as Snow White and return as Warren Buffet. You’ll freak your people and yourself out. I am saying that you show up as a focused, determined and accountable leader. Isn’t that who your employees need? Show up as the leader you want to be and leave the indecisive and timid leader at home.
  • Step up to the opposing forces: If “fear of confrontation” and having long overdue conversations gets you unsettled to the point where you avoid them, you’re allowing your leadership style to be shaped in a manner that will only cause you continued stress and frustration. If you have a fear of flying – you’ve got to get on a plane and fly somewhere. If you have a fear of public speaking – you’ve got to keep getting up in front of people to speak. If you have change resisters on your team – you need to engage in open, frank and honest conversation to find resolution. Maybe they’ll get off the train. Maybe they’ll really get onboard and play with everyone to win. You never know until you step up.
  • Get a business coach: If you want to really gain ground quickly, work with a business coach. A coach will help you define your leadership style and path – and hold you accountable to achieving your objectives and vision. We coach leaders at Strategies, and the area we put significant emphasis on is holding leaders accountable to achieve the results they want. Coaching leaders is tough. Strategies coaches are tough. Contact me if you want to chat at neil@strategies.com.

Yes, situations can shape who you are as a leader. The best leaders are the ones who learn how to shape situations to achieve extraordinary results. Which one are you?

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click the Comment button above.

Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO of Strategies and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


2 Responses to “What’s shaping your leadership style?”

  1. May 31, 2010 at 11:46 am

    My manifestation of this trap was retaining one particular “resister” on the premise that his talent outweighed the cost of his resistance. Aside from what it cost me in time, money, and agita, it cost me a degree of credibility with the rest of the team (until I let the resister go). And it cost the business spirits of cohesiveness and camaraderie I didn’t know were gone (because they were so long in the losing) until they returned.

    If you see that kind of resistance in your organization, trust your instincts: get rid of it. If you can’t see it but suspect it’s there, trust your instincts: get a coach to help you identify and get rid of it. If you don’t, you’ll be compromised significantly more than you might imagine.

    • June 1, 2010 at 7:20 am

      Thanks for the post Mark. Your brief story of “hanging on” to a problem employee, especially one in a key role, is the most common of leadership compromises. It’s always enlightening how much better the business functions once the leader steps up and ends the relationship with the problem employee. The damage and stress is all self-inflicted. The key is to recognize the signs in the early stages and work to resolve issues before they manifest in major disturbances.

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