Saturday, 5 November 2011

Leadership Lessons from Henry V Part Three: Leadership Styles

I recently attended a superb training session on Inspirational Leadership from Ben at Contender Charlie. The messages on leadership were based on Shakespeare's Henry V.
You can find handouts from the course here.

Over a series of posts I'm going to share some of my learning from the course.

Part of the day was spent considering leadership styles. Whilst not directly related to Henry V, this was one of my favourite parts of the day. 

Parts of my research for this post is based largely on:

Carl Gustav Jung, the Swiss Psychiatrist and the founder of analytical psychology,believed that deep underneath our unconscious mind, lie character traits that can be certain models or roles derived from fables and mythology. He called them archetypes. Of all the archetypes he proposed, four are well known:
  • Great mother
  • Warrior
  • Good King
  • Medicine Woman/Witch
Jung was heavily into Eastern and Western mythology and believed these archetypal characters represent humanity's collective unconscious. Knowing our archetypal influences really helps to understand our leadership styles and our personality in interacting with people and teams.

A leadership continuum

The Autocratic style is more the warrior archetype and the Democratic style is akin to the Earth Mother approach.
Truth is, neither style is a perfect one. To be a good leader is to be polyphonic. You need to way up your situation, weigh up your team and the task, assess the immediacy of what needs to be achieved and then pick your approach.
Another way successful leaders execute tasks is to incrementally move from one end to the other. Some may start as Democrats and then move to autocratic approach as the deadline approaches and task completion needs to be imminent. Some may adapt a more autocratic approach initially and then offer support and counsel after the task is completed.
This approach is called Situational Leadership.

The Situational Leader

The Situational Leader knows the mood and the efficacy of the team. They observe, reflect, analyse and act. They have a variety of tools at their disposal. some they may be naturally good at, others they have learnt as a necessity.

Situational demands should influence a situational style. Sometimes a mixture of styles may be needed for the task to be completed, or for different team members!
Most leaders find one or more roles more comfortable to wear and may feel uncomfortable with the others. Therein lies the development of a leader.

They can choose to assume the traits of one of the leadership styles. Be aware that each style has a shadow - an extreme of the trait where good intentions may lead to bad results by overdoing it.

Leadership Style Positive Traits Characteristics Shadow (Negative) Traits Poor Leadership
telling, instructing, ordering, punishing, leading, visioning and ruthless in achieving the task, takes action, leads from the front, likes competition
Powerful, Decisive, Leading, Visioning, Determined, Successful, Inspiring, Rewarding, dynamic
Destroyer, collateral damage, others are expendable, win at all costs, selfish, Punisher
Great Mother
nurturing, guiding, mentoring, training, helping to grow, rewarding, emotionally intelligent, has rapport
Nurturing, supportive, encouraging, pastoral, protective, kind, shows empathy, listens
Overnurturing, supportive when challenge is needed, no discipline, no completion, poor growth due to low challenge, lazy team
Weak Mother
Medicine Woman
giving ideas, creating, visioning, inspiring, dazzling, mercurial, quick witted, lateral thinking, loves blue sky thinking, stretch/bend the rules
Mercurial, full of ideas, creative, visionary, lateral thinking, outside the box, innovation, thinks "what if?", innovative
Too many ideas, none completed, transient, incomplete, flitting, random, restless, distracted.
Mad Woman
Good King
delegating, sharing, participating, democratic decision making, involving, encouraging, strategic, considered
Democratic, Decisive, inclusive, benevolent, sharing, involving, encouraging, calm, balanced
Indecisive, slow, overindulgent, consults too many, insecure
Weak King
(Ideally I would use different colours to organise this table better, but I don't know how!!)

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