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Why Faking Leadership Is Doomed to Fail

Why Faking Leadership Is Doomed to Fail

Being an authentic leader requires self-reflection, an understanding of the expectations of your subordinates, and a firm grasp of your context. Different leadership styles can be effective in particular circumstances. For example, a drill instructor is expected to intimidate his or her recruits through an aggressive leadership style. If a schoolteacher used the same methods, he or she would be out of a job.

Part of the challenge of leading from a place of authenticity is understanding which approach is best for a given situation.[1] If you've ever witnessed a manager offer a tone-deaf response, you know that a leader's style can have major impacts on company culture.

There are many ways to classify leaders, but Daniel Goleman's [2] designations provide a valuable framework for our purposes.[3] You may see yourself in one or more of these styles.

Here are the 6 types of leadership styles.

Pacesetting leader

This type sets a rigorous standard for others to follow. Pacesetters work alongside their team with the intention of executing a specific objective. They have no tolerance for team members lagging behind.

Pacesetting leaders excel in the military. In this case, the team's ability to perform as a unit affects the success and safety of the mission. Ambitious entrepreneurs and high-level leadership also have this level of urgency and insistence upon meeting high standards.

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When your team is adequately prepared and you need something done quickly, this approach is most effective. This style is more concerned with forward motion than heaping on praise, which means that team members will need to be confident in their duties. Continual use of the pace-setting leader model without including other approaches can cause employee burnout. Inexperienced team members may become frustrated by limited opportunities to receive positive feedback.

Authoritative leader

Sometimes known as the visionary leader, this style is firmly grounded in a vision. Some of the most recognizable innovators, such as Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Oprah Winfrey[4] count themselves among the ranks of authoritative leaders.

This position is helpful if you are pioneering an approach. Your vision represents your values and those of your company. In the face of uncertainty, you stayed grounded in your vision. This leadership style is not effective when your team members have more experience than you.

Affiliative leader

If you consider getting to know your employees to be an important part of your leadership style, then you likely possess the qualities of an affiliative leader. This style necessitates compassion and good listening skills. These leaders see workers as people first.

If your organization has experienced an upheaval, this caring approach can put your culture back on track. The manager that has regular one-on-one meetings with staff members and takes the time to listen to their concerns embodies this style. This approach breeds loyalty because it provides encouragement and makes employees feel understood.

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If your style is too soft, you risk breeding apathy. To prevent slacking performance, you will need incorporate other leadership styles to help you demonstrate the importance of high-quality work outputs.

Coaching leader

Even though coaching requires a greater time commitment for leaders up front, the rewards are a major return on investment. Coaching creates a positive work environment in which people use feedback and support to improve their performance.

Employees and leaders who approach their work with a growth mindset[5] are more likely to feel affirmed and buy into the organizational mission. This collaborative approach does not work well if you need results in a hurry, and it is not effective if workers are unwilling to engage.

Coercive leader

The coercive leader, like a drill instructor, does not leave room for debate — they simply want their workers to follow instructions as quickly and effectively as possible. Using this approach for extended periods of time will have a negative impact on morale.

Despite the potential for negative impact, there is an appropriate context for this leadership style. During an organizational crisis or emergency, workers need a leader who can act decisively. Employees who refuse to respond to collaborative approaches may fare better with a commanding leader.

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Democratic leader

When you solicit the buy-in of others, you empower them through democratic leadership.[6] Leading through votes or by committee can foster a positive work environment because workers feel that their concerns are taken into consideration.

This style can avoid the conflict among groups in which people wish to voice their opinions, but there are contexts in which this style will not be effective. A committee full of aggressive communicators might spend more time arguing than fulfilling their duties. If employees lack access to all the information necessary to make an informed decision, then this approach is unlikely to yield the best results. For projects that require a quick turnaround, you will need to exercise a more authoritative style.

A strong leader can always apply the right leadership style depends on situations.

A strong leader will need to be able to embody different leadership styles depending on their circumstances. Consulting this flowchart can help you understand which styles you identify with most and which aspects of your personal brand of leadership will require refinement.

With so many considerations for how one can lead, finding your authentic voice as a leader can seem overwhelming.[7] So here's what you can do.

Call in the SWOT team to help you lead best.

SWOT analysis can help you understand the best leadership style for you. SWOT, an acronym for "strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats," [8] helps you understand your gifts and mitigate deficiencies. Knowing which leadership styles work best for you gives you a greater capacity to inspire workers and respond to challenges in the workplace.

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  • S – Strengths: What are the things that you can do better than anyone else? What are your greatest accomplishments? Based upon these strengths, you can narrow down the types of leadership that resonate with you the most. For example, if you are a patient, asset-based thinker, then you may find that you are most comfortable as a coaching leader.
  • W -Weaknesses: Are there certain types of interactions that you seem to flub every time? Do you have tasks that you avoid because you don't think that you do them well? In the context of finding your leadership style, this can help you understand the types of leadership that do not resonate with you. If you hate telling people what to do without providing lots of feedback, then a coercive style is going to be uncomfortable for you.
  • O – Opportunities: After you have a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, look for opportunities. Where are the places that you can use your strengths? Which leadership styles exploit your best characteristics? What can you do to improve your weaknesses? Can you attend training or find a mentor to help you improve?
  • T – Threats: External threats can impose limits on your leadership. Threats include prohibitive policies that prevent you from expressing your best leadership talents. Does the hyper-competitive environment prevent you from using coaching, affiliative, or democratic leadership techniques, which require greater time investments? Comparing the threats you face to the strengths and limitations of the leadership styles can help you find the strategy that maximizes your strengths in your environment.

Amplify your strengths, always.

After you perform a SWOT analysis, you'll have a good idea of your individual gifts, and you'll be more cognizant of your weaknesses as a leader. Knowing your weaknesses can help you avoid leadership styles that make you come off as disingenuous.

Mind your mentors.

Picture a person who epitomizes strong leadership style for you. Analyze their style using the SWOT model, and pinpoint what types of leadership they most closely represent. Acting as an observer can help you understand your own values as leaders.

And know thyself.

To be an authentic leader, you have to be yourself. Leslie Stein eloquently illustrates the gains that come from owning your truth.

If you try to adopt a style that doesn't fit your personality, it will be difficult to function in a leadership capacity. Workers can always spot a phony, and if they know that you don't believe in the way that you are leading, they will be less likely to respect you. Your authentic self is your greatest leadership asset.

As a leader, you will be faced with situations that require you to adopt specific approaches. With some self-study and a strong vision for your team, you can be yourself and take charge.

Reference

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Angelina Phebus

Writer, Yoga Instructor (RYT 200)

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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