Types of leader

If you are stuck in a tight situation, you might describe yourself as being, ‘behind the eight ball’. 
The derivation; from the game Pool, a sort of billiards for beginners.
However, eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture. And, one for the bobble hats; eight is a Fibonacci number. The only one, aside from 1, that is a positive number.
More significantly, for the rest of us, there are probably eight leadership style

  1. Democratic leaders, 
  2. heroic, 
  3. laissez-faire, 
  4. transactional, 
  5. coach-style, 
  6. strategic, 
  7. transformational and… 
  8. bureaucratic leaders. 

By far and away, the most dangerous is the one the world seems to have too many of… the heroic leader.

  1. Putin, stripped to the waist riding a horse.
  2. Trump, a hero in his own Rose Garden. 
  3. The bonkers-bloke who runs Belarus. Pot-belly, flack-jacket and gun. Comical if he were not so sinister.

And, of course, our very own BoJo, who frames himself as an heroic leader, in the penumbra of Churchill

History and the story of modern management, tells us; heroic leadership always ends in grief.

Westminister rumours run; after Brexit, at the end of the year and the expectation that Covid will have settled down, BoJo will go in the Spring. Leaving the next Tory leader to sort out the mess before the next election.

Sounds plausible? Dunno, but…That’s part of the problem with hero-leaders. They surround themselves with the B Team. The Republicans can’t find a replacement for Trump and Putin has his own way of dealing with competition.

When BoJo goes it is hard to see the next Tory leader coming from the Cabinet.
Jeremy Hunt could well be playing a long-game. I’m having a chat with him on October 15thjoin me, perhaps we’ll find out.

At times of crisis, heroic leaders are tempting to follow. Leaders are dealers in hope. In tricky times we need hope. How many times have I written;

  • ‘leaders are visible, have a vision and share it often’.

The problem is, you can’t build hope, or a vision, based on confusion or fear. 

Heroic leaders think there isn’t much they can learn from the people around them… they are smarter than the folks they lead.

Inclusive, or democratic leaders, on the other hand, always recruit people better than them. They go out of their way to attract talent and keep it.

The way leaders deal with mistakes is always a giveaway. Transformational leaders admit them, they say, ‘I got that wrong, how do we fix it?’Note the ‘we’.

The heroes ‘never make mistakes’. Putin, Trump, BoJo and the tubby-bloke with the gun, do you ever hear them say they got something wrong?

Heroic leaders rely on their authority to bash-on, get-it-done, aim for implausible deadlines… like issuing Covid guidance to schools the night before they re-open. Brexit by Xmas.

Leaders with a democratic style are inclusive, ask the people most affected, doing the job. Arrive at a consensus. Heroic leaders would see that as a weakness. The hero has to know all the answers.

Mary Parker Follet, in her book, The Creative Experience, published back in 1924, warned us;

  • ‘leadership is not defined by the exercise of power, but by the capacity to increase the sense of power among those led’.

Hence hero-leaders create theatre. Putin’s horse, the tubby-Gunman, Trump with a Bible, standing amid the ashes of downtown riots. 

BoJo never seen without a high-vis jacket, a bulldozer, a factory-floor or a nurse, as a prop. 

Convinced they can save-the-day, hero leaders use rhetoric, thump the table, sack people and create favours for friends.

Why do we end up with heroic Leaders?

Generally, they have had no training in leadership, no opportunity to look at others and more importantly, little opportunity to connect with followers and understand leadership is a collective process.

They have a simplistic view of leadership and no real understanding of the behavioural complexity required in training leaders in the modern context.

Hero leaders get stuck in the charismatic-leadership described by Garry Yukl, in his 1998, book; ‘Leadership in Organisations’.

Self-centric people, who through their aspirations, judgments and decisions believe it’s ok to determine the fate and fortune of people, departments, organisations and nations, alone.

I’ve yet to see it end in anything but tears.

Blog and copywrite by Roy Lilly of nhsManagement.net

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