Leadership is not a 10 letter word. What does that statement mean to you?

CynthiaDownTheHatchI have had my eyes opened. I’m at Sonoma State, pursuing my MBA, and I have already learned a thing or two. Such as: There is no single perfect or right leadership style. Being able to flex between many leadership techniques—picking the ones most appropriate for each situation—makes the best leader.

The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®

  1. Model the Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart

Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner

To learn more about the Five Practices, visit the Leadership Challenge website http://www.leadershipchallenge.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-131055.html

The leadership styles I’m most comfortable with are: challenging the process, modeling the way, enabling others to act, and inspiring a shared vision. Turns out I’m weakest in “encouraging the heart.” That was a wakeup call.

Why? Because I am most motivated and most confident when a leader or collaborator “encourages my heart”; tells me I’m doing a good job, supports my process, really sees me. As much as I respond positively to that, and as much as that’s what really moves me, I’m slow to give that to others.

I thought that was just how I was. I didn’t realize that I could access a gentler, more coaching style of leading. But then I took this sailing course with my program cohort. It was a great opportunity to practice new techniques in a contained environment, and get feedback from other leaders. It was exhilarating.

And I learned I could access that encouraging, gentler way of leading. I looked more at the individual than at the situation. Rather than focusing on results, goals, and outcomes, I instead supported my team members to be the best they could be, regardless of the outcome. We were all in it together and my role, as the leader, was to reduce anxiety, support the process, and keep us connected while we learned to sail.

I learned that a leader isn’t born; we can train ourselves to lead using different styles and techniques that are appropriate for different situations. Knowing your team and knowing the desired outcome will help determine your approach. In addition to strength, modeling, challenging and conviction, I’ve added compassion, encouragement, and coaching to my tool kit.

So tell us about your leadership style. Does it work? Would you like to learn more about being a leader? We’d love to hear from you!