Which leadership style will you choose?

In my work with university leaders I’ve come across 3 basic categories of leaders:

  1. The Teller – this is the leader who thinks of the plans herself and then tells those in her charge the end goal as well as the path to get there.  From my experience, I would say this is about 60% of leaders;
  2. The Persuader – similar to “The Teller,” but “The Persuader” typically works to get people to believe that his plans are actually theirs.  If you work with a good Persuader, you may not identify the ruse, but it is there nonetheless.  This is about 30% of leaders;
  3. The Embracer – this is an authentic leader in that he leads those in his care through a process of identifying goals and strategies in a collaborative style.  He holds accountability as a high value, but is willing to invest the energy and time into designing collaborative environments for those in his care.  This is a process which identifies a mature and thoughtful leader.  Only about 10% of leaders fall into this camp.

So, why should you strive to be an Embracer style of leader?   Because Embracers are more successful!  In seeking genuine imput from others, they end up with people who own their goals.  And just like homeowners display more care for their property than do renters, those employees who own their goals tend to take care of meeting them!

Each day I work with university leaders who showcase different styles.  I have one client who is a clear Embracer.  He is so good that he has been at three different institutions in different parts of the country and team members have followed him each time!  I also have witnessed a university leader who crafted the institution’s strategic plan completely by himself.  Guess which style he is, and guess how successful his plans were?

The art of leadership, when practiced well, is a collaborative effort. Possessing an ethic of care for the perspectives of others evidences a belief in their worth as individuals.  Embracers do that.  Tellers and Persuaders don’t.


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