There is no right leadership style and no wrong leadership style. Every leader has their own unique voice and their own individual approach to people and projects.
Being effective as a leader means understanding your style and staying true to it. Finding your own voice comes first. It also means bringing others into your inner circle who have a very different style than yours, trusting them and listening to them to compensate for your weaknesses.
This is why I believe team leadership so important. Not because it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside (In fact, the very best teams have few warm fuzzies). It’s because of the iron-sharpening-iron process that true teams experience: varied voices working together to deliver real business results.
I’ve discovered that there are five leadership styles on any team.
The Five Leadership Styles
Innovators are inspired by a blank piece of paper and think outside the box. Their brilliance lies in finding solutions to a problem that no one else can see. They value creativity. Developers also enjoy creative ideas, but their drive is to take action on those ideas, so their list of things on the blank piece of paper is shorter than the Innovator’s. They value flexibility and are able to throw out an idea that isn’t working and substitute it with another one at a moment’s notice.
Activators, as the name implies, are all about action. They get things done and really don’t care whose idea it is (or who gets the credit for that idea). Their only reality is results, and will scale the highest mountain to get them. That’s why they value tenacity so much.
Maximizers, like Activators, want to get things done, but they also want to preserve the good that exists within an organization. They know that too much change can be disruptive and bring a natural diplomacy to the situations they are in. Finally, Stabilizers have a genius around systems and processes. Their mind thinks in detailed steps of action that brings consistency to an organization.
Leadership Style Weaknesses
Any one of these leadership styles left on their own without compensating forces will unravel. The diagram below shows how.
Innovators can get lost in ideas and fail to implement any of them. Developers can be impatient when solutions don’t work immediately and too quick to find an alternative. Activators can push oneself and others too hard for results and burn everyone out, including themselves. Maximizers can fail to take action on critical initiatives if the decision is perceived as unpopular. And Stabilizers can apply systems and processes too rigidly, insisting on a policy for every situation and paralyzing the organization.
A Secret to Effective Leadership
A secret to effective leadership is this. Find your voice. Know both your strengths and weaknesses well. Then recruit other leaders who are very different from you, listen to them deeply and trust them completely.
The end result? Better decisions that result in better business.