Leadership - If it was so Easy, Everyone could do it

Leadership. It's a word that lets us think of charismatic CEOs, inspiring speeches, and decisive action. But the reality is far more nuanced.

Leadership is a skill developed through experience, shaped by company culture, and constantly tested by evolving situations.

Unlike flipping a switch, leadership is a complex art that requires constant refinement and openness to change.

Beyond the bookshelf

While libraries overflow with leadership guides, these volumes offer just a glimpse into the dynamic nature of leadership.

True leaders understand that there's no one-size-fits-all approach.

What works in a fast-paced startup might crumble under the weight of a traditional hierarchy. The key lies in adaptability. A successful leader can shift their style to resonate with the existing company culture while still driving innovation and growth. You might think leadership is great within your company and then comes a crisis and everything falls apart.

Leadership: What mindset do you need to lead?

Trust, Honesty, Transparency, Openness, Humility, the ability to listen, Courtesy, Fairness but also a fair amount of Strictness as well as the expectation for getting results and finally the ability to accept your own mistakes and apologize.

And most important - Leaders are not superior. They are an integral part of the team and have a task to fulfill. To enable the team. Compare a leader to a nurse during a complicated surgery. The nurse is the one making sure everything is prepared, handing the surgeon the right equipment so they can conduct a successful surgery with their expert knowledge.

Culture Fit – The baseline for effective Leadership

Imagine a young, energetic company where creativity thrives on calculated risks. Here, a leader who encourages experimentation and embraces failure would flourish. Now, picture a well-established firm known for its thought-through processes and established procedures. The same risk-taking leader might struggle without adapting to a more structured environment.

The lesson? The most effective leadership style aligns seamlessly with the company's established culture. And if the culture is against the leader's beliefs, it’s not the right match. It's not a rigid formula, but rather a harmonious blend that respects existing norms while fostering positive change. But also Culture and workforce changes so leaders need to change as well - constantly.

Leadership: A Universal Language (But With Different Dialects)

Forget the misconception that leadership is reserved for those with "manager" in title.

Leadership is a universal language with countless dialects, spoken by everyone who inspires, motivates, and guides others within their sphere of influence.

Consider these examples:

  • The passionate developer who mentors junior colleagues
  • The insightful salesperson who fosters collaboration within the team
  • The dedicated customer service representative who embodies the company's values in every interaction

These everyday people showcase that leadership transcends titles and manifests in countless ways.

Everyone in your company is a leader - so everyone needs support and feedback to evolve, develop and grow with your company culture.

Exploring Effective Styles:
While a universal "best" style doesn't exist, let's delve into two quite different approaches with additional details:

  • Situational Leadership
    This dynamic style emphasizes adapting one's leadership approach based on the maturity level (competence and commitment) of team members. Developed by Hersey and Blanchard, it outlines four leadership styles:
    Directing (High Directive, Low Supportive): Ideal for new team members or in situations requiring clear instructions and close supervision. The leader provides specific tasks, timelines, and closely monitors progress.

    Coaching (High Directive, High Supportive): Effective for team members developing their skills. The leader offers guidance, support, and feedback while still providing clear direction.

    Supporting (Low Directive, High Supportive): Applicable for experienced team members who are confident but might require occasional encouragement or problem-solving assistance. The leader empowers them to make decisions, but offers support if needed.

    Delegating (Low Directive, Low Supportive): Ideal for highly skilled and motivated team members. The leader assigns tasks and expects them to take ownership with minimal supervision.
  • Empathetic Leadership
    Great leaders understand the importance of stepping into the shoes of their team members. They practice active listening to understand needs, concerns, and motivations. This fosters an environment of trust and psychological safety where open communication thrives and team members feel comfortable sharing ideas and concerns without fear of judgment.

    The success of real Empathetic Leadership is proven in multiple studies, e.g. a study conducted within Microsoft 2021. Almost two third of the employees are more engaged and satisfied with their work when they have an empathetic leader. That was double the amount compared to employees without an empathetic leader. Not surprisingly also the efficiency of those teams was about 50% higher.
    The good news - empathic leadership can be learned. Every human has a certain level of empathy and can train to better leverage it. However, this is not done with a 1-week course and needs continuous reflection and effort. 

The Journey is the Destination

Leadership is not a destination, but rather a lifelong journey of self-discovery and continuous improvement.

It's about:

  • Understanding your company culture and adapting your style accordingly.
  • Empowering everyone to be a leader in their own way, fostering a culture of collaboration.
  • Embracing continuous learning and refining your leadership approach through experience and feedback.
Leadership is a challenge, a responsibility, and ultimately, a rewarding experience. By embracing the complexity and dedication required, you can become a leader who truly guides, inspires, and propels your team and organization towards success.


Written by: Ina
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