The New Way to Lead

Are you inspiring your team, or intimidating them? The answer has a lot to do with the kind of leader you are, and the kind you want to be.

Published: November 2018
Video/Photos: Supplied

Ultimately, as a leader, your goal is to get the most out of your team. Author and executive adviser Liz Wiseman calls these leaders Multipliers. Multipliers are the leaders who, as Wiseman puts it,“look beyond their own genius and focus their energy on extracting and extending the genius of others”.

 

Wiseman offers four tips for leaders who want to be Multipliers:

 

  1. Share the resources. Multipliers will attract and deploy talent to its fullest regardless of who owns the resources.
  2. Create intensity. Multipliers establish a climate that is both comfortable and intense, where everyone has permission to think and has space to do their best work.
  3. Extend challenges. In Wiseman’s model, Multipliers lay down challenges that stretch themselves and their team rather than giving directives, simply to showcase their knowledge.
  4. Debate decisions. Multipliers facilitate decision-making through rigorous and inclusive debate. While this isn’t necessarily efficient, it ensures the broader organisation isn’t left in the dark.

 

Given this framework, it’s useful to know what kind of leader you are naturally, and – given the situation – what kind you might need to be.

 

Different leadership styles

 

One of the early pioneers of leadership theory was psychologist Kurt Lewin, who in the 1930s charted three distinct leadership styles:

 

Authoritarian leadership, which is often born of necessity, when there’s no time for group decision-making. If you’re an authoritarian leader you’ll get the job done your way but, in time, the people working under you may come to see you as bossy or dictatorial.

 

Participative leadership, where you offer guidance to your followers, while also allowing input from them. Lewin’s studies found that those who followed participative leaders tended to be less productive than those who had an authoritarian leader, but their work was of a higher quality.

 

Delegative leadership, where a“laissez-faire” leader offers little guidance and leaves the decision-making up to the group. While it might be useful in a group of highly driven experts, this hands-off leadership style was found to be the least effective when it came to keeping followers motivated and productive.

A great leader knows instinctively which approach will multiply the team’s talents.

While it might be useful in a group of highly driven experts, this hands-off leadership style was found to be the least effective when it came to keeping followers motivated and productive.
Establish a climate that is both comfortable and intense, where everyone has permission to think and has space to do their best work.
Those who followed participative leaders tended to be less productive than those who had an authoritarian leader, but their work was of a higher quality.
 
Some urgent tasks will demand an authoritarian leader, who will get the job done to spec and on time; others may require teamwork to make the dream work.

 

Situational leadership

 

Based on Lewin’s three leadership types, authors Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard developed a fourth leadership model, situational leadership, which selects one of the three based on what the situation demands. Some urgent tasks will demand an authoritarian leader, who will get the job done to spec and on time; others may require teamwork to make the dream work; while in others, the best approach may be to step back and let your team do what they do best.

 

A great leader – by any definition – knows instinctively which approach will multiply the team’s talents, and which will diminish them.