Why are We Assessing Leadership Roles and Styles?

Personality (0)What is the point of all of it?

Millions of dollars are spent each year on personality assessment tests.  But, nobody can express a clear reason why.

“Two and a half million Americans a year take the Myers-Briggs. Eighty-nine companies out of the US Fortune 100 make use of it, for recruitment and selection or to help employees understand themselves or their co-workers.”[1]

Almost 90% of Fortune 100 companies perform these tests.  This is amazing to me.

I have taken these assessments.  After receiving my results, my first thought always is: interesting, but so what?

I see a lot of commentary and articles on how to assess leadership styles and roles.

  • Are you a democratic leader, authoritarian, or somewhere in between (here)?
  • What is your personality type (FIRO-B, MBTI)?
  • What is your role as a team member (Belbin)?

Are these useful tools?  Can we use them to predict behaviors or successes? Continue reading

Leadership is Like Being a Good Host

Welcome Mat (0)“But they are like family to me!”

You hear this phrase or something like it when people speak about their work relationships.  Hell, I’ve been guilty of saying it in one form or another.  It is sorta sad to think about it, but we often spend more time in the company of our colleagues than we do with our core nuclear family.

But is it really like that, are we really family?

Would we want to be family?

So we’re all one big happy family!  Now what?

Like the saying goes you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.  The implied premise is that your family has to claim you.  Thus, if we use the family paradigm, it hurts all the more when you have to, for professional reasons, reject an employee.

I think the best attitude to take with your employees is the same you might take if they were guest in your home.  Be their host.  (I don’t mean in a parasite/host relationship sorta way, I know some of you were thinking it.) Continue reading

When Do You Stop Leading?

Leadership principles and effort (0)

I recently caught a glimpse of a message in one of my professional newsfeeds that posed the question “When do you stop being a leader?”

It is hard to consider it when you are the leader, so my default process has always been to remember my thoughts and feelings when I can observe as a follower.  The influences other leaders, perhaps old bosses, had on you are as valuable as your own leadership experience… I include the negative examples as well as the positive.

If you ever said to yourself “What were they thinking when they said/did/wrote that?”, you hopefully learned from “their” mistakes.

Every inappropriate comment or joke, snide remark, or act of entitlement will be judged by others even if there is never a comment.

So, when does it end?

Basically, never.

Continue reading

Power – How to be a Cult Leader in 5 Easy Steps!

Persian Cat (4)Although it may seem irresponsible to teach people how to abuse power, I see it all the time.  So, either they are learning on their own or they are following what might be considered “natural behavior”.

Brains are lazy.  That is the natural state.

Making the intellectual effort to leap beyond the simple explanation and accepting a belief is difficult and unnatural.  Courtesy of Bob Carroll, let’s call it the “unnatural virtue”.  It is our natural behavior to attend first to our own needs and to rely on the explanation that is easiest to believe, not necessarily what is true.

In leadership the easiest way to lead is to use power like a weapon.  It may be effective at first, but in the long run things will go bad one way or another.

So… what are the steps to cult leadership and how can we prevent the damage? Continue reading

Managing the Power Game

Power game chess (0)We cannot avoid the influences and effect of power in daily life.  It is a dynamic, complicated byproduct of social interaction and constantly changes even in a single relationship between two people.

How often has the phrase “where do you want to eat?” come up and how often was that decision based on your desire to eat a favorite food versus your lack of interest in making a simple decision?

“I dunno, where do you want to eat?…”

Knowing that power games translate into office politics, leaders need to be able manage the powers to the benefit of the group.  A business cannot be “Lord of the Flies”.  It didn’t go well in the book, it won’t go well in the office. Continue reading

Power in Two Words: “Not Leadership”

Bicep (1)

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a huge advocate of leadership.

It creates value.

It is a force multiplier.

It improves cohesion.

But, contrary to popular misconception…

Power is not leadership.

Leadership, I mean “good” leadership, includes a component of ethics where power is more often a tool wielded to change behavior at whatever cost.

Let’s take an opportunity to examine the relationship of leadership with power and the often post hoc, self-serving narrative people use to justify the misuse of power and to suggest how good leadership, though harder, is a better behavior in the long run. Continue reading

No, You’re Not a Leader

Leader - a - ManagerSitting in a chair does not make you a leader.

(Not even if it is a really nice chair).

I struggled for a long time over the difference between being a leader and being a manager.  I knew there was an important way to parse the two, but it took me a while to figure it out.

It is a fundamental discussion point for everyone to realize because it is the first step in leadership development.  It is the demarcation point when you invest in your future leaders and potential succession pool.

The nuance leads to planning for responsibilities and expectations.  Some people believe that a place and position is enough and leadership is automatic.  Many people would equate the occupancy of a supervisory position as being a leader.  Leadership is not automatic, but a mindful application of communications, developing relationship, and influence.

The two words are often used as synonyms, but in my mind they are not the same concept.  I’ve always felt that management referred to resources and leadership implied a component of motivation.

If you have a job and you manage time, money, materials, or personnel, you are not a leader.  You are a manager.

Continue reading