The Best Leaders Tip #8 – Get Smart: There is no one best leadership style

This is my 8th of 12 posts about how to be among the Best Leaders.  In these, I provide inspiration for everyone seeking professional and personal growth as a leader of people, projects, groups, teams and organizations. I welcome your comments and feedback.  Visit my website for more information.


Best Leader Tip #8          Be flexible.  There are situational, transformational, transactional leaders.  There are servant leaders, authoritarians, democratic leaders, laissez-faire, visionary, charismatics, paternalistic, collaborative, consensus-driven, participative, coaching, commanding, pace-setting… We know about most of these, and many of us have identified with one or more of these styles. While scholars differ in how they type leadership practices and behaviors, they agree that the most effective leaders know how to effectively use multiple styles to meet various needs at different times in their organizations. (Read about types of leaders here).

There are many types of leaders, and many tools to help us understand our own styles based on personality and temperament.  I believe these are helpful only to a point, because the best leaders know how they must adapt their leadership styles to be effective in specific situations.  So we have to become proficient in many leadership behaviors, no matter what our natural styles or preferences might be. Read more about leadership theories here.

For example, leading in a crisis requires a more commanding or directive style, and during a strategy or brainstorming session, a collaborative or more hands-off style works better.  Leading through long-term strategy shift, a merger or acquisition, scandal, or economic hardship also require different skills and behaviors.  The best leaders know these differences and when to use them.  Read more here.

Read a New York Times article about leadership styles here.


Taking the Fear Out of Networking

Slide1Networking – building ongoing relationships to exchange information and advice – is scary. Although it is not our #1 fear*, most people say that these things about networking scare them:

  • Meeting strangers
  • Not saying the right things
  • Having to talk about yourself
  • Making a fool of yourself
  • Getting stuck with the wrong people
  • Not being interesting

Fear in this case is a problem, since interpersonal relationships (formed through networking) are still the primary drivers of business, even now, in this era of e-socializing.

Understanding networking is a good first step to alleviating your fears.  Networking is not:

  • Asking for a job
  • Collecting business cards
  • Randomly passing out resumes
  • Self promotion
  • Pitching a product or company
  • Selling

There will be a time and place place for asking for what you want and receiving from the relationship. The networking occasion is simply the first step and in that step, you are simply forming a connection.  Following up, you will have additional meetings to move forward your agenda.

Networking can occur anywhere, not just at events. Get into a networking mindset, and you will attract opportunities to meet people important to you on the airplane, in coffee shop lines, elevators…

My three-stage plan to networking can help alleviate your fears.

networking approach graphic

Next post: Step 1 to Networking: Prepare

*The Chapman University Survey of American Fears, Wave 2 (2015) provides an unprecedented look into the fears of average Americans. In April of 2015, a random sample of 1,541 adults from across the United States were asked their level of fear about eighty-eight different fears across a huge variety of topics ranging from crime, the government, disasters, personal anxieties, technology and many others.


Steve Jobs – iconic leadership

Each generation gets only a few icons – people who change industries, shape the future of business and economies, create something from nothing except their own brilliant minds and from listening to and recognizing the brilliance of those around them. In all the media coverage of Steve Jobs so far, I’m struck by the analysis of those who knew him related to his leadership, fearlessness and vision – those qualities seemingly remote within most companies today.

Walter Mossberg said in today’s Wall Street Journal (  about Jobs, “He did what a CEO should. He hired and inspired great people; maanged for the long term, not the quarter or the short-term stock price; made big bets and took big risks. he insisted on the highest product quality and on building things to delight and empower actual users…”

Maybe it’s best summed up by this quote from Mr. Jobs himself, at his now widely aired 2005 commencement address:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life… Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

Many of you probably have also learned from Steve Jobs, or maybe you were fortunate to know and work with him. Please share. We are, after all, experiencing a historic milestone.


Learn more:

The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation by Jay Elliot, William L Simon, Vanguard Press, March 2011)

 The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success (by Carmine Gallo, The McGraw-Hill Companies, September 2010)

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience (by Carmine Gallo, The McGraw-Hill Companies, September 2009)

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