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Leadership: The Dilemma and the Style – 3 of 4

26 July 2015

Leadership Dilemma

According to my previous posts on this subject, the Leadership dilemma remains whether you could/should define it a Science or an Art.

The natural talent is of course desirable and, to some extent, necessary, however, it is also possible to acquire the leadership skills, somehow building them.

How?  Through hard preparatory work, the future  leader could enhance and enrich his/her portfolio of "Leadership competencies", which are ranging from the ability to understand the customers' needs to the non-trivial "passion for the business," i.e., being genuinely passionate about their profession.

To speak properly of "Leadership competencies" a treaty would be required.  Also, the most successful Enterprises have in place Talent Management programs, in order to detect as soon as possible and properly develop the competencies of their future executives'.

Alongside the "Leadership competencies", we also find the leadership styles, to which it is attributed great importance in influencing the organizational climate and, ultimately, the business performance.

There are many leadership styles in literature, but one should not think that one of them is necessarily better than the others.  They represent, in some way, the working tools of the leader, and must be dynamically adapted to the specific tasks.

In some contexts, for example, it will be necessary to adopt a top-down style, in which the leader decides and the others execute.  People are considered mere reports.  They work in silos, and there is very little sharing with the others.

In other situations, it will be desirable a bottom-up style, also called "driven or participatory", where the team is what matters the most.  People are not considered as hierarchical "reports", but as collaborators. In this context, the leader is guiding from a control room and people help each other, work on projects and with activities in parallel.  Typically, they use "workbenches", articulated in workgroups.

Ihad  also mentioned the concept of "contemporary leadership": in line with the connected leadership, which I briefly mentioned on my first post, the contemporary leadership in the new Enterprises, hierarchically "flattened", is shared at all levels: that is, each and everybody is called to be a leader in his/her field of competence, by developing an approach oriented to problem solving and cooperation, and by deepening his/her core competencies.

An area which I would like to highlight, is the so-called "situational leadership": the leader should in fact adopt the style best suited to each person whom he/she is leading.

I have found this particularly useful when dealing with a team of senior leaders: in order to diagnose the readiness level of the leadership team members, it is advisable to evaluate them simultaneously in terms of both their skills and of their motivation.

With the support of proper methodologies, the leader will have to assess the level of her/his team members, and will finally develop and share with each one of them the results of this assessment and the content of the action plan to support their development. Please note that this plan will cover what the leader is committing to do to support them, and not vice-versa.

Contrary to what one might expect, even people with high skills and motivation need attention. Specifically, the leader will have to empower them by delegating them, while remaining ultimately responsible for their performance.

On the other hand, a team member who is knowledgeable, but not particularly motivated, will have to be properly coached.

The most "dangerous" attitude remains that of a person highly motivated, but incompetent.  The leader will have to act prudently and guide these individuals, who are otherwise able to damage the Enterprise results thanks to their willpower and assertiveness, unfortunately not supported by the required training/experience.

So, discussion's to be continued. 

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