“Leadership.” It is considered important in the business world, yet people are often hard-pressed to define it. While it might seem that leadership relates only to those leading a team, it actually applies to anyone wanting to influence the thoughts or actions of others. We have all been in a situation where we want to rally support around a vision. And that is what I call leadership: Creating a shared vision and organizing support to implement it.
How we go about it is where it gets interesting as each of us has a preferred style for creating the vision, rallying support behind it, and organizing resources to implement it.
The effectiveness of an individual’s chosen leadership style in a particular setting is based on personality, awareness of that personality, the needs of others in the group, and the importance of the topic at hand. For example, at the two ends of the spectrum are those whose leadership style in group interactions is:
Assertive. When interacting in a large group, some people are vocally dominant. It’s just their natural inclination. Unchecked by self-awareness, they might say, “Here’s the vision, so you do this, you do this, and you do this.” If others are looking for strong direction and/or don’t care much about the topic, this behavior just might work. However, when the topic is important to the group, or others in the group also have a strong leadership style, this could cause friction.
Non Assertive. This does not mean weak. Take someone like me. I do not seek out group attention, and I am not vocally dominant. Since speaking up in a group is outside my comfort zone, I wait until the topic is important to me. Then I come up with a point or two to get across. I might even convey my thoughts after the meeting instead, in writing. As writing is my strength, it might be a better way for me to persuade others.
Certainly, these behaviors are two extremes and address only interactions that occur in groups. Your own leadership style in group settings might fall somewhere in between. If it does, you might make a good mediator or group facilitator. No matter your nature or the situation, the trick is to be aware of your preferred leadership style in that situation—and how it is perceived by the group. Then you can modify your behavior in situations that matter.
Note: This article is the first in a series of articles on leadership.