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How to lead together, when we are so different?

Businesses are like an ongoing experiment.

Working with leadership groups, occasionally thinking how is this group going to work together effectively?  Experience and research shows that it is through a mix of personalities.

All of us, no matter where we are in our career, have to wrestle with the big questions of leadership: What is our personal definition of success? What does it mean to make a difference and have an impact? Bill Taylor

Working with a leadership group of 4, a rules-based leader was working with a senior group and often making decisions based on his interpretation of the rules.  He is highly experienced with over 25 years’ experience and very rules focused.  The others are different styles, two process focused and one results driven.

The rules-based leader would routinely get frustrated, despite making the decision.  I belief, failing to understanding how to achieve an outcome that works for all members of the group.

This made me reflect about the different types of leadership I have experienced:

Rules Based

Square peg – square hole?  Rules are carefully analysed in a detailed way.  Definitions are understood to best of their ability so far as the intent. Explanations are provided, sometimes in excruciating detail.  Often taking much of the meeting time. e.g Deputy principle at a school is usually the head of rules.

Process Focused

So how are we going to do this?  Given a direction, or an idea, procedural leaders ensure that we understand how best to do something.  Does everyone understand their role? Success or failure determined by following the established process, e.g. a manufacturing leader.

Outcomes / Results Driven

Outcomes based – what is expected to be achieved and what will it cost?  Focussing on the Why – seeking to be clear what and why we are doing. Working with the big picture and relating it to how we impact. Formula 1 teams target certain positions, eg Racing Point – fourth quartile budget, second quartile results.

Power & Influence Based

Political decisions are often based on support. Support for an initiative, party or leader.     What trade offs do I need to make to maintain my position of power and influence?  Can I assert this influence in order to sure up power?

Relationships Orientated

Relationship builders and facilitators – focus on collaboration. Potentially the glue amongst the different styles.  Through empathy and individualisation, working through conflict, maintaining a positive approach.  Building consensus between Power and Influence, Process, Outcomes and Rules based leadership styles.

When too many people play the relationship-building role, it can produce a nice, almost saccharine environment, with too little challenge or contention.  Winsborough et al.

Looking at the five types listed above, is not exhaustive, however reinforces the importance of many of the styles, research supports the need for results focused in addition to relationship builders.

For our procedural leader, working with his peers, would mean that accountability and results will come naturally.

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Photo credit: Austin Chan on Unsplash.