Last week I had an interesting conversation with an executive about the need to be flexible in your leadership style.
The conversation started with this question. Are we expecting too much of our leaders? After all they are only people too… The executive was frustrated that the expectation to change their communication style seemed to rest with leaders and she was curious about the responsibility of the followers. Her second concern was how shifting your leadership style could result in feeling as if you were lacking integrity, not portraying the ‘real you’, even being inauthentic or hypocritical.
Imagine you are a carpenter with a full set of 20 Stanley screwdrivers, but you only choose to use the middle three regardless of the job. We wouldn’t call that smart. The same goes for leadership. You have a range of leadership styles available – so choose the style that best suits the situation, the task at hand, and the people involved.
It’s not hypocrisy – it’s your job! The leader’s role is to lead. And that requires flexibility of style.
When others connect with you, they will follow you. When others can relate to you, they are less likely to mistrust or misinterpret you. When you connect with others, your influence is greater and your results will be higher.
This does not mean selling out to your ‘true’ leadership style. It means understanding where you sit most comfortably on any leadership spectrum, and then building your flexibility to move from that point. The more you are able to adapt your style, the greater impact you will have as a leader. After all, that’s your role, that’s what you are employed to do.
And the responsibility of the followers? Are their expectations of leaders too high? That’s the topic of a future blog.