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The Duality of Leadership How good leaders become great Good leaders develop an effective way of dealing with people, but great leaders learn and master the dualities of effective leadership. Great leaders act one way in one set of circumstances and a completely opposite way under different circumstances. Don’t get me wrong. Consistency of action is important. But differing circumstances call for differing approaches to leadership. It’s this mastery of the duality of leadership that makes good leaders great. The duality of effective leadership is evident in three areas. A great leader is visible at some times and invisible at others. A great leader is strong at some times and yielding at others. And a great leader is sometimes a master and sometimes a servant. Let me expand on these insights and offer some suggestions on how to elevate your leadership effectiveness. The Duality of Leadership: Visible and Invisible Let’s face it; a person gets to the top spot in an organization by being good at what they do. In pretty much every situation - whether in companies, sports, or any competitive environment - this top person is highlighted, honored, and put in the spotlight. People generally hold the person in high regard and treat them in a special manner. So it’s only natural for the head of a company to be in the forefront. But that isn’t always the best approach to lead an organization. There are many situations where the leader should not be the most visible or the most vocal. Sometimes a leader needs to be the one clearing the way for others to get their job done. Sometimes, the leader needs to fade into the background and let others shine. Sometimes, a leader needs to allow a protégé to step up and demonstrate their competence and savvy. Leadership Reflection: The tendency is for a leader to be in the limelight. Next time a situation arises that requires someone to make a statement, reflect on whether the organization would be better served if someone else on your team spoke up rather than you. The Duality of Leadership: Strong and Yielding Many leaders make their mark on an organization by staying true to a certain style of leadership. But, one’s style of leadership needs to ebb and flow with changing situations and circumstances. For leadership to truly be effective there needs to be a flow of style. Sometimes a strong, unyielding, style is required. Other times, a softer, collaborative style is called for. The more adept at flowing among the various leadership styles one becomes, the more effective their leadership becomes. Daniel Goleman’s book, “Primal Leadership” explains the resonant and dissonant leadership styles. The four resonant styles are: Visionary, Affiliative, Democratic, and Coaching. The two dissonant styles are: Commanding and Pacesetting. A great leader makes use of each style as events dictate. The key, of course, is knowing or sensing when to use each style. The wrong style used in a situation compounds the problem and often leads to poor results. Leadership Reflection: The tendency in current leadership thinking is to favor resonant styles - involving the team in important initiatives. Before choosing how to lead your organization in a particular set of circumstances, take a step back and decide which leadership style to implement. The Duality of Leadership: Master and Servant A great leader recognizes that sometimes he or she is a Master within the organization and other times is a Servant to it. Many times the leader is the one directing others to execute a strategy or fulfill a vision. But often, the way to gain respect and trust is to look for ways to serve people. It may be acting to remove a roadblock or pitching in to help get some less exciting work out of the way. And sometimes it’s simply a matter of asking about the challenges people are having and finding a way to make those challenges go away. Generally, being a servant will help you be far more effective as a leader than being a master. Leadership Reflection: If you’re not already practicing “Management By Walking Around”, then start. Take time not only to make yourself accessible, but take time to engage people at all levels. Find out what issues exist that stand in the way of them doing a great job, and then take steps to smooth the way for them. If you want to master your role as leader and elevate your effectiveness, break out of your habits and get out of your comfort zone. Learn to flow between the two sides of leadership and try some strategies you haven’t tried before. LE By Michael Beck Michael Beck is the Founder and President of Michael Beck International – a leadership development and employee engagement consulting firm, headquartered in Portland, OR. An Excecutive Strategist, Michael specializes in employee engagement, executive development, and leadership effectiveness. © 2014 Michael Beck International, Inc. Visit www.michaeljbeck.com LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/mjbeck leadership excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 04.2014 16


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