To gain optimal results, stay in the Leadership Zone and stay away from extreme roles.
By Steve Rush
Leaders often take time to develop their leadership style and approach, and many do so through intensive work-based situations. A common dichotomy faced by leaders when taking any leadership role is being faced with leading old friends, while at the same time trying to build new alliances with others.
Let’s take a look at four leaders:
Jason was new to business; it was his first team and he was keen to impress. He was all out to deliver a very structured and disciplined leader. He spent little time getting to know his team and wasn’t very empathetic to their needs. He delivered superb results. The job gets done, but his team was not behind him.
Margaret had just been promoted into a senior leadership role. One member of her old team, Sue, was chatting to her new team member in the restaurant and couldn’t believe what she was hearing—it wasn’t the Margaret she recalled. She described an ogre boss and not a leader, favoring some and isolating others. Eventually she would get the work done, but she was perceived as unapproachable.
Marissa was the life and sole of the organization. She just oozed energy. Those who worked with her thought she was a great boss. Her approach was being “one of the team.” Every payday, she would be the one leading the payday evenings out in the town, being everyone’s best buddy. Results were slipping, and her work was now under scrutiny. She couldn’t work out where the problems started.
Kevin had seized the opportunity of taking a secondment with a view of becoming a new leader in the not-too-distant future. He had stepped into his bosses’ role while she was on maternity leave. It had been a challenging initiation because until a few weeks ago, he had been one of the team. He initially felt this was a strength. With his open door policy, the team would constantly visit him with their concerns and issues. Eager to please, Kevin worked arduously to fix their problems. He was a big softy. After all, he understood their situation.
All of these leaders have differing teams and differing activities. You may recognize some of these colleagues, but they are at the extremes of effective leadership. Jason was so busy getting things done that he wasn’t making friends or understanding people. While Marissa was busy being everybody’s best buddy, she wasn’t getting the job done. Margaret felt that early in her new role, she needed to be the tough ogre type boss. Some may respond initially, but she would become more unapproachable over time. What about Kevin? Being a big softy straddles empathy with sympathy. Empathy means you are part of their solution, while sympathy means you are part of their problem. In the long run, he will find it difficult to set standards, build affinity and deliver results.
I developed the “Leadership Zone”™ to demonstrate that it’s natural in any leadership role to be any one of these characters from time to time. In order to get optimum results and develop people, you need to have a slice of each and operate as near to the middle of the zone as possible (no extremes). My experience led me to understand that leaders who stay in the Leadership Zone possess enough of each trait to be effective, well-rounded leaders.
Steve Rush is an author and leadership expert whose career spans global firms generating multimillion-pound revenues. He is the author of “Leadership Cake,” which combines his expertise and leadership lessons into a fresh perspective on leadership success. Live testing of “Leadership Cake” with leaders in both the U.K. and the U.S. inspired Rush to share the philosophy on the global stage. For more information, visit www.leadershipcake.com.
If you want to review the essential ingredients in leadership, download a free copy of the Leadership Cake recipe pad or buy the new book by Steve Rush by visiting www.leadershipcake.com
Rush is also Chief Executive Officer of Improov Consulting, a leadership, management and training consultancy based in Vale of Glamorgan near Cardiff, South Wales, U.K. It provides solutions tailored to ever-changing businesses and individual needs in the areas of learning and development; sales skills and buying models; sales leadership; relationship management; marketing; personal effectiveness and change management; communications skills; and financial services exam training. For more information, visit www.improovconsulting.com.
Latest posts by Steve Rush (see all)
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