The first of this week’s blog prompts asked us to look at our personality and discuss the impact it has had on our leadership style.
For starters, if you were to ask someone to describe my personality in one word, chances are they would respond with “sarcastic”. It is true, I am unabashedly sarcastic. There have been times in my life where I’ve flirted with the idea of attempting to be less sarcastic but those moments have been fleeting. I am sarcastic with my wife, my friends, and at work. In addition to this, I also self-deprecating and attempt to see the humour in most situations.
Side note: the concept of time & place is something that I’ve learned throughout the years, I am fully capable of being serious and turning off the sarcasm when the situation warrants it. Or so I’d like to think.
That said, I’d like to think that there is more to my personality than sarcasm. Respecting the opinions of others is something I’ve always valued both at home (something as “simple” as choosing a movie/restaurant) and at work (developing a plan for success for at-risk students, planning events, etc.). I also dislike micromanaging and being micromanaged. If I feel like I’m being micromanaged that gives me the impression that I’m not trusted to do the job. As long as I’ve been provided with the necessary training and resources to accomplish the job, I’d like to be allowed to do it without having someone constantly looking over my shoulder. Trust is key.
I’ve had a few experiences throughout my life that have shaped these traits. Growing up, I was big into music and this is where my disdain for being micromanaged can be traced to. While I appreciated the one-on-one nature of private lessons with an instructor, I always preferred to practice at home, in the basement, preferably with no one around. If I wasn’t sure how to attack a certain passage or what technique I was supposed to use, that’s where the private lessons were beneficial. Otherwise, I preferred to attempt to perfect whatever song on my own. That same sort of situation often plays out today if I’m thrust into a leadership role. Help provide people with the skills needed to accomplish the task and then trust in their ability to complete said task.
Travelling has also helped shape my leadership philosophy. I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled fairly extensively over the years and this is where I learned to value both consensus and the opinions of others. When travelling with a group (both big/small, often with people whom I’ve never met that come from different countries) it’s important to attempt to take everyone’s opinion into consideration when deciding on things such as meals, transportation, potential activities, etc. Doing so helps to make for a much more harmonious trip for all involved. In addition, Forbes identified 10-ways in which travel can benefit leaders.
After reading the first section of this week’s readings, there were a couple of leadership approaches that stood out – the laissez-faire leadership style and the democratic/participatory style. Based on what I’ve written about thus far, this should not come as a surprise. Given my disdain for micromanaging, the laissez-faire style stood out. While laissez-faire sort of implies a bit of laziness on the part of the leader, it doesn’t have to be that way.
“They (laissez-faire leaders) provide teams with resources and advice if needed, but otherwise do not get involved. This leadership style can be effective if the leader monitors performance and gives feedback to team members regularly. Team members tend to have high job satisfaction and are productive because they are more involved”.
That last sentence is key. This leadership style can work (depending on the situation, of course) if the leader actually pays attention to the performance of others AND provides the necessary assistance when required. This style will not work if the leader simply washes his/her hands of the situation.
Meanwhile, the democratic/participatory style speaks to the value I place in other’s opinions.
“Democratic leaders make the final decisions, but include team members in the decision-making process. They encourage creativity, and team members are often highly engaged in projects and decisions. Team members tend to have high job satisfaction and are productive because they are more involved.”
Once again, that last sentence is key. By involving others in the decision-making process, quality team building is taking place which in turn will benefit both the project and the long-term relationships of the people involved.
Every leadership style outlined in this week’s readings has strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes a democratic approach isn’t going to work because time is of the essence. Meanwhile, the “laissez-faire’ approach might not work if the skills of the group members aren’t quite up to par. An effective leader makes use of an array of leadership styles and uses them based on the situation.
Time and place.