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Leadership Styles – Are Your Shoes on Your Desk?

October 4th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
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One day, when I was sitting in my boss’ office, we were having a very spirited debate.  I had just received a promotion and I was now the head of my department.  The spirited debate was not about my abilities to handle my new responsibilities.  It was about how I saw my role in this position.   It was boiled down to our difference in leadership styles.

He felt that I should become a manager.  I should retire to my desk and run reports and tell the team what they should be doing.  It appeared, he felt more comfortable with me if I kicked my legs up on my desk,  with my shoes on the desk, leaned back in my chair, and told my team to go “sic ’em”.  I felt, if I wanted the team to be average and ordinary, languishing in mediocrity, then and only then, should I do it my boss’ way.  I believed in a different recipe for success.

My philosophy is, a leader is in front of the pack, leading by example.  David Harold Fink said it best, “People are more easily led than driven.” I, also, know the speed of the leader is the speed of the team.  A leader never asks their team to do anything the leader hasn’t done first.

Management pictures themselves as the “idea people”.  They believe it is their job to create the new idea and hand it down to the team, with reverence similar to the tablets Moses brought down from the mountain.

Leadership, on the other hand, is “do it first, then talk about it” mentality.  Their great ideas come, most often, from feedback from the team.  The leader tests the idea, first, tweaking it, perfecting it, and then passes it down to the team.

When a “specialist” has been called upon for their expertise, especially for something the leader isn’t well versed in, a leader can put their ego aside and get out of the way to let the expert work.

Great leader always know their team’s performance numbers and their goals.  They are aware of where their team excels and where they could use improvement.  They are able to keep their fingers on the pulse of their team. Not from the use of intimidation or from only studying the “reports”, but because they interact daily with their team. They listen to their team.  They tailor the training sessions to benefit the team the most.

One of the most intriguing things about leadership is, strong leaders tend to develop leaders from their team.  History is riddled with examples of leaders that begot leaders who could then step up and lead their own teams of people.  Done correctly, leadership can become a system of leadership development pulling people up rather than pushing people down.

You are probably wondering who won the debate.  In the end, he proved to be was a wise man.  He let me do it my way.  There weren’t any shoe prints on my desk.  In fact, our team rocked!  We set records which still stand.  As a team, we made a name for ourselves in the company and had so much fun doing it!

It takes a lot more to lead and not manage.  In the wise words of Henry Kissinger, “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” Effective leadership is a commitment to excellence.  Now is the time to take our feet off the desk, get up from our chairs, and lead our teams to were they will be proud to be!

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  1. October 20th, 2010 at 02:49 | #1

    Thanks for the info

  2. July 22nd, 2011 at 03:02 | #2

    I Just added this post to my blog and I will surely be checking back soon. Great

  1. October 11th, 2010 at 13:28 | #1