Leadership Styles – The Leadership Mash-Up
How do you label the leadership style of an over-caffeinated leader that rarely sits in their office, works alongside the staff developing new products, insists everyone is at the office by 8:00 AM every day, but closes the office most Fridays by 2:00 PM for beers and laughs in the common area of the office?
You’re screwed if you pull a classic leadership book off the shelf to try to classify this leader by traditional definitions.
Leadership styles of the past didn’t offer a lot of choices just a decade or two ago. To the best of my memory, there were four leadership styles to choose from: Autocratic, Bureaucratic, Democratic and Laissez-Faire.
As a follower, the styles meant this to you as a follower:
- Autocratic meant you did what you were told to do.
- Bureaucratic meant you followed a set of rules set that the leader enforced.
- Democratic meant you participated in decisions and goal setting.
- Laissez-Faire meant your boss let you run the place and checked in once in a while.
Different People and Different Situations Require Different Leadership Styles
Today’s leadership styles are a blend of several leadership styles that end up creating unique leadership styles to best fit the environment they serve.
As an example, a leader that is responsible for the running of a hospital will likely have a leadership style that fits the situation.
Is the hospital in a wealthy community where health plans and incomes leave room for care options and there is competition? Perhaps the hospital is in a low-income area where patients require basic care up and through vital care, but there are dysfunctional departments requiring correction. Each presents a different challenge and will likely require a different leadership style.
The leader of the hospital in the low-income area might be out of her office constantly as she walks around connecting with frontline people. At the same time that she is connecting, she is emphasizing quality care and the following of medical procedures.
The leader in the high income area hospital might spend a good amount of his time in strategy meetings working on plans to increase market share gains. He might spend time in staff meetings doing presentations about quality care standards and bedside manners.
Both leaders have to combine several leadership styles to carry out changes while encouraging feedback from the staff. Both leaders have to give different groups, different constituents, a unique style and approach to have their message heard and their lead followed.
Let’s go one more step with our fictitious hospital leaders.
Different Levels of Followers
A hospital staff is a combination of highly educated physicians and medical care staff along with janitorial staff and food workers that might only have a basic education. In order for the hospital to be successful this staff has to work harmoniously each doing their best work.
Does a leader communicate the same way to brain surgeon as they would the person mopping the floor or spooning out the Jello? Most likely, the answer is no.
Is the message of, “Don’t screw up working on that guy’s cranium.” delivered the same as “Put a well-placed dollop of whipped cream on every Jello order.” by the same leader? Most likely, it is not.
Cranium screw-ups end up costing the hospital millions in insurance settlements and reputation lost. Whipped cream dollop mishaps; not so much. But tell that to a lunch customer who is not satisfied with their mound of white, creamy sugar.
The point is that these leaders are required to manage people at many levels delivering messages that must be heard and followed at each level of the team.
Leadership Styles: The Leadership Mash-Up
Today’s leader cannot be placed in one of four boxes labeled Autocratic, Bureaucratic, Democratic or Laissez-Faire.
Instead, today’s leader leads in the style of a song mash-up (see Glee of Fox-TV). The leader is not assigned one song to sing over and over again like, “Johnson! Do it or get fired!” Instead, Johnson gets a song and Jones gets a different song and so on. Johnson is on Jello duty and Jones fixes noggins.
It is a leadership mash-up. There are different leadership styles for different people and different situations practiced by one leader.
Once you grasp the concept that you really cannot have one style of leadership today, the question becomes which sub-styles are you best at mashing-up? I came up with a list of present day styles to choose from.
What is your leadership mash-up? Study the list and we will start pulling it all together in the next post.
The people based leader
The numbers based leader
The innovative leader
The shy leader
The gregarious leadership
The philosophical leader
The transactional leader
The got the ticket stamped (moving on) leader
The controlling leader
The disconnected leader
The change master leader
The cost slashing leader
The quantitative leader
The egotistical leader
The all about me leader
The micromanager leader
The visionary leader
The short-term results leader
The turn-around leader
The dictatorial leader
The coaching leader
The transformational leader
The high-tech leader
The creative leader
The growth oriented leader
The task master leader
The disconnected leader
The servant leader
The outward leader
The inward leader
The hands-on leader
The distant leader
The change master leader
I bet you thought of a few more. Add to the list in the comment section below.