I do not feel that the DCIS exercise revealed anything new about my leadership style. I am well aware that I am a hard “results-focused direct” leader. However, the exercise gave me an excellent opportunity to question whether this is the best style. The more I think about this, the more I wonder if there is a “best style”. I suppose that is one of those questions where there is no correct answer. To some degree, it is probably situational; different leadership styles are probably more effective in different situations or with different people. For example, a lieutenant leading a platoon in a combat zone needs to be direct and assertive. On the other hand, an arbitrator leading a difficult negotiation will need to be more careful and emphatic.
Upon reflection on the exercise, I am wondering now if I need to modify my leadership style. I think that it would be valuable to position myself closer to the center of the graphic. That is, adapting my leadership style to have elements of patience, enthusiasm, accuracy-focus and results focus. The benefit of this would be the ability to draw upon the leadership elements appropriate to whatever situation I face.
This strategy would have some challenges, however. Firstly, one would have to be adept at reading the situation. The strategy has no benefit, and could be quite damaging, if the wrong leadership style is applied to a situation. Applying an objective and assertive tone to a sensitive human resourcing issue, for example. Secondly, one would likely encounter difficulty in applying leadership styles that are not naturally part of one’s character. Using a style that is not part of my character could lead to a poor decision being made or a loss of confidence in my followers if they perceive me waffling on a decision.
Perhaps, the best kind of leadership is simply using the style that comes naturally. Perhaps also trying to use unauthentic leadership styles is what Mintzberg is referring to with the term “heroic leadership” in his article “The Best Leadership is Good Management”. Many managers looking to climb the corporate ladder may be employing the latest leadership fad that they see on the business shelf at their local bookstore. These leaders could struggle by trying to implement leadership techniques that they cannot succeed with because it conflicts with their core skills that made them successful in the first place (good management).
My recommendation to my colleagues and classmates: learn your leadership style, understand where it will succeed and fail, and recruit others to your team whom have the strengths that you do not. Be authentic.