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Chris LoCurto

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March 8, 2016

3 Leadership Styles That Show Up In The Workplace

March 8, 2016 | By | 4 Comments">4 Comments

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We just wrapped up our Next-Level Leadership Retreat here in Nashville and we did some crazy, fun exercises with the leaders.

One of the things I wanted to do was help them to see what styles worked, and what styles didn’t.

We broke everyone up into teams, and then just “randomly” (wink wink) assigned a specific style leader to each of the teams.

Of course, my team had a little fun setting this activity up because roles had to be reversed. We knew the personality styles of the leaders in the room, and we chose roles for them that would go against their normal style of leading.

We knew these leaders would have difficulty with the leadership roles that we gave them. It was the perfect setup!

The 3 types of leaderships that we set up:

  1. The Democratic Leader
  2. The Dictator
  3. The Absent Leader

The Roles:

The Democratic Leader – Tax the collective intelligence, see what kind of information your team has. Get input, grab information, and then make the decision to move forward.

The Dictator – Don’t take input from the team. Tell them what they are to do.

The Absent Leader – Don’t give direction, and don’t give input in the process.

You put a room full of leaders in place; they’re all going to be ready for competition. They all love challenge. They’re goal was complete the challenge, win. Do whatever it takes to win.

But, it had nothing to do with the challenge itself, it had to do with leadership styles and learning leadership styles.

Here’s what I want you to know about each style and the team underneath these leaders:

  

The Democratic Leader

What we discovered is the happiest team, the calmest team, and the team that worked best together. Everything that came from that process was positive. Every comment was positive.

Every single person on the team was like, “This is great. We didn’t have any problems. We enjoyed the process. We liked it.” Everything worked out well.

Why? Because everybody felt like they were a part of the process. Everybody felt that if they had an opinion on something.

This is not leadership by consensus. This was let me hear, let me hear what your ideas are, and I’ll make a decision on what direction we go in. That is treating people with dignity.

That is treating people with respect. That’s allowing them to give you information that you may not have. They feel a part of the process.

When you lead me that way, I have buying. Why? Because I believe you believe in me. I believe you want to hear what I have to say. Even if you don’t go with it, even if you don’t take my advice, you still are trying to hear from me.

Therefore, I feel more loyal to you in this process. I have ownership of the project.

The Dictator

We discovered that the frustration of the team members who had great information, that could cause the team to win. They were shut down because the leader would not take their input. They made the decision on what was going to happen.

How many of you are like this person? Do you find yourself not getting information from your team members? Do you find yourself having to be the one with all of the answers?

The Absent Leader

When we took at look at the team, we discovered they were so frustrated that their leader was not giving input, knowing that he had information. The frustration was very high. Even higher than the teams that had dictators.

If you’re somebody who is not leading your team, if you’re somebody who is just letting things happen, if you’re somebody who is not engaged, then guess what’s happening?

You are creating a culture of fear. You are creating a culture of confusion. You are creating a culture of people who don’t have respect for you as a leader, who don’t know what to do in their job.

Click here to read today’s transcript.

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  • http://williamedmondson.com William Edmondson

    When you said the teams in your leadership exercise preferred any other leadership style above the “absent leader” I literally stopped in my tracks (nearly causing a horrible workplace accident as people in the hall behind me had to stop walking or quickly step around me to avoid a collision). I am not sure why but that statement was a shocking moment of clarity for me, a gestalt shift. In retrospect it is such an obvious concept.

    I think there is this idea in the US, probably a result of our political structure, that there is nothing to be avoided more than a dictatorship. Give me liberty or give me death! But the insight from your conference is a strong anecdote that anarchy is even worse. Where there is no vision, the people perish. Why do people follow a dictator? They want clarity. (I also think this also explains a lot about the current election cycle…and I will leave it at that)

    Over the last few months I have been thinking almost constantly about leaders I have worked for and why I thrived under some and chafed under others. Your single statement from this podcast helped everything click into place. The bottom line was this one point…my respect for the leader was directly proportional to how engaged they were. Were they pushing me to be better? Calling me out when I messed up? Were they setting standards, looking for input, considering the thoughts of the team, incorporating other ideas, and helping the team grow? Those were the leaders I would follow again.

    Laissez faire leadership style is not leadership. It is a cop out…and the fastest way to lose confidence of your team.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      HAHAHA!!! I’m so glad I didn’t cause a work comp situation in the hallway there! I think you stoping and asking what caused you to thrive is crazy powerful. Not only is it incredibly helpful in the environment you should work in, but it should be a great barometer of what to do and not do.

      At 21 years old I learned that the leadership style of those who “led” me was not going to work with the team I was leading. So I changed it. :)

      Thanks William!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      HAHAHA!!! I’m so glad I didn’t cause a work comp situation in the hallway there! I think you stoping and asking what caused you to thrive is crazy powerful. Not only is it incredibly helpful in the environment you should work in, but it should be a great barometer of what to do and not do.

      At 21 years old I learned that the leadership style of those who “led” me was not going to work with the team I was leading. So I changed it. :)

      Thanks William!

      • http://williamedmondson.com William Edmondson

        Interesting about your experience as a 21 year old. I don’t think most leaders actually lead…I think they just revamp the stuff that previously made them successful. But we forget that what got us here won’t necessarily help us level-up more.

        I work in tech world. As a group I think we have a hard time transitioning from the well organized rules of software development to the more loosely defined world of leadership. We find the “Leadership” thing hard to measure and slip back to our comfort area of address tech problems rather than people problems.
        Also interesting is that we spend hundreds or thousands of hours studying to be good at tech stuff but then kind of wing it at the leadership stuff. How hard could it be after all? I am a super good software developer so how difficult can it be to leader software teams.