It was Boss’s Day and I was listening to talkback radio. Driving out to do a keynote address to heads of private banks, my mind was intrigued by the string of callers responding.
Some loved their bosses and others dreading the day, as they felt compelled to take their bosses out to lunch. There was one caller who stood out. She said she did not really like her job but had stayed on for six years solely due to her boss!
She said, “My boss is amazing. Every time I think about moving I fear landing up with a horrible boss.” It made me wonder about this ‘perfect’ boss who was so highly appreciated and the qualities that made up such a person.
I remember many years ago the Hay Group had partnered with Daniel Goleman in a research survey amongst top organisations worldwide. They identified the six most effective styles of leadership as follows:
Directive: emphasis on immediate compliance from employees
Visionary: emphasis on providing long term vision and leadership
Affiliative: emphasis on creating harmony
Participative: emphasis on group consensus and generating new ideas
Pace-setting: emphasis on accomplishing tasks to high standards
Coaching: emphasis on professional growth of employees
My observation of leaders in top management over the years led me to one major trait – INTUITION. An intuitive leader possessed all of these characteristics. The combination of a few styles though one maybe a dominant style, had these leaders exhibit behavioural flexibility. The ability to read a situation and act accordingly.
Intuitive leaders trusted their decisions. They ebbed and flowed knowing when to strike and when to recede. This led them to be great visionaries, able to see the big picture and make necessary adjustments towards desired results.
In my experience such individuals worked towards a higher collective goal, larger than their personal ambition. They were genuine about empowering their workforce, open to ideas and building successful people. I met many senior leaders this way as they believed in investing in the professional growth of their people and themselves.
Many gave me the opportunity to work with their workforce. I transferred NLP (Neuro Lingusitic Programming) tools to the minds of their people and saw them go from strength to strength. It is this type of leader who received the benefit of rewards for they cared about their people.
Skiing the slopes of leadership came naturally to them. They knew when to swerve around obstacles, slow down, pick up speed and read the terrain.
Being at the top of the mountain lent perspective to the situation, just like an observer watching a game. They attended NLP programs to learn the art of tapping deeper into their intuition. Some asked for one-on-one coaching to get to the core of issues whilst others were comfortable learning tools for corporate applications in larger groups.
Leaders who expanded their minds to accelerated tools like these coupled with experience, were able to guide their people effectively. Empathy was a big component in mobilizing the workforce towards higher performance. The ability to step into another’s shoes was an important trait that every leader needed.
In fact the lady on talkback radio was an example of this. Empathy brought with it loyalty. It was easy enough to do. As a leader, if I was at the bottom of the mountain watching “me” ski down the slope what would I see? This was a truly remarkable role, as it required a leader to step out of his/her shoes before stepping into another’s.
Some of our greatest political leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Sir Winston Churchill, displayed respect that was earned through behaviour rather than taken for granted by virtue of the positions they held.
I know they would have stepped into the shoes of others to understand what they wanted before making their decisions. That is how they received a strong following.
Having skis to weather all storms require leadership qualities that can be developed. All it takes is a willingness to learn and change the way you operate.
We are fortunate to have access to so many efficient methods for developing leaders. NLP encompasses hands-on experiential training that produces fast transformation. Corporate coaching and mentoring in my opinion, far surpass going back to school for more boring academic theories.
Leaders who tap into their emotional and spiritual intelligences have a far better chance to lead their people effectively than those who are steeped in academic theory. What do you think? Are you a leader who exemplifies any of these leadership styles? Are you skiing the slopes of leadership?
Sylvia is a qualified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Trainer. She started her business in Sydney and is now based in Singapore.