Sustainable leadership styles for future development
Structure is important, it is the definitive framework that keeps everything together. I find that when there is a structure in place, there is a sense of organisation, process, and clarity. From both a personal and professional perspective, structure is integral to defining positions, managing the expectations of deliverables, and also defining relationships within the workforce.
Focusing on the professional sphere, structure has been the bedrock of businesses since the beginning of time. It has established many frameworks that we use in today’s market, including the birth of Standard Operational Procedures (SOP), a process that has been integral to the success of the workforce to this day.
But the success of an organisation is not just reliant on the systems and procedures, it’s dependent on people, organisation’s culture, and the employee engagement strategies driven by those in leadership.
Throughout my career of interacting with various professionals in different capacities I have identified five styles of leadership: Subject Matter Leader; A Thought-People Leader (Mentors); Employee Business Leader; Entrepreneurial Leader; and an Employer Business Leader. Each of these managers have unique attributes that they bring to human capacity development and its impact on the future of development.
A Subject-Matter Leader’s management style is driven by knowledge! Subject matter leaders are passionate professionals who take extreme pride in their craft. While we spend our spare time catching up on our favourite TV programmes, they are probably researching about the latest technology or business trend that is circulating in their sector. Like a sponge, they absorb so much information on their profession and sector with the objective of being known for their expertise in the market. As managers, they operate on facts only; every key decision they make will have data at the core of their thought and implementation process. They are usually the go to person for anything relating to their niche and make it a point to stay relevant by participating in subject related seminars, networking events, and webinars, either as a guest speaker or an active contributor.
The people management style of a subject leader is quite rigid because they are more drawn to professionals to match their passion for the craft, so they may come across as being partial or exhibiting favouritism. Their leadership style is similar to that of a thought leader. However, the definitive difference is that they lead with the knowledge they have acquired. Your pride is your knowledge, and your leadership style thrives in any environment that promotes and emulates your expertise. You like to see your team win but are partial to those who have imbibed your professional career path or your way to achieving objectives.
A Thought-People Leader’s management style is driven by empowerment! These leaders give back! Their sole purpose of being a leader is to impact the development of others. They are also seen as martyrs and sacrificial lambs; a thought people-oriented leader can sacrifice themself for the betterment of others, either because they have paid their dues to society, and achieved phenomenal success or they are natural mother hens and papa bears who like to take care of their chicks or cubs as they case may be.
An Employee Business Leader is a team leader or supervisor who is comfortable using their interpersonal skills to gain the trust and loyalty of their team. They usually shy away from managerial roles because of the pressures that come directly from reporting to the executive team. An employee business leader’s strength is a blend between people management and technical expertise.
As a professional, you would have been identified by management as a leader in training because of your high level of technicality or knowledge as a subject matter leader. While you may not feel you’re ready for a management position, you are the perfect intermediary to bridge the gap between departmental management and the team members because of your unique ability to establish relationships with your team members and increase productivity because they buy into your collaborative style of management where your team members are paramount.
An Entrepreneurial Leader’s management style is driven by innovation! They are pioneers of diversity and like to wear many hats, break boundaries and thrive in environments that leave room for improvisation. As a professional that likes to know a little bit about everything, they are knowledgeable in all things business, finance, sector subject matters, and people management. They are the most multi-faceted leaders who demonstrate a revolutionary mindset in an ideologist’s world. This means that their thoughts on process driven environments depict that one should be adaptable to change according to business trends in their sector or the economy in general, regardless of what rigid data may suggest.
Leaders like this have an infectious energy, and it comes through in their people management skills because they see everyone as a leader that has something significant to bring to the table. They are not a fan of protocol and rely on the value a professional can bring to drive the objective, as opposed to the core focus being your years’ of experience. As a cost-effective manager, they understand the value of lean operational management, so their business structures are usually developed around business necessities and value added services.
Employer Business Leader’s management style is driven by process! An Employer Business Leader is a departmental manager who thrives in an environment where there is structure and due process in a 9 to 5 corporate setting. As long as a standard operational procedure (SOP) is in place, you are diligent in ensuring those expectations are adhered to. You are a big fan of Performance Management initiatives because you feel that these are the best tools to monitor the technical productivity of your team. While this is true, you also rely on the team leader to infuse employee engagement activities that challenge your team to meet targets. As a leader, your methodology is delegation; ensuring that everyone is accountable for their deliverables that contribute to overall success.
Your team’s success is your success and you love to be recognised by the executive team as the leader who pushes her team for results. The career aspiration of this type of leader is to be a C Level executive, where there’s prestige and honour in the job title. Their ideal job description would be focused on their influence on delegation as opposed to the task of developing the strategy.
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