A Mixed Bouquet
I was sitting in a meeting this afternoon, one being conducted by other people, so I had the opportunity to put my attention fully on listening and watching, vs. managing or facilitating. I learned a tremendous amount, and I had a chance to observe a leader for whom I have a great deal of respect, as she navigated through this very complicated and delicate meeting.
Not only did she do a truly fine job, I was struck by her style of leading. She’s much more patient than I am, and tends to bring people around to her point of view gradually and on their own terms, by listening very deeply and then responding calmly and objectively. It was a pleasure to watch almost everyone in the room (myself included) eventually have his or her own “ah-ha” about the validity of her insight.
Now, in order to be effective, her style requires a strong team: because she gives people so much credit, leeway and authority — they have to be capable of dealing with it well! Fortunately, she also has a great eye for talent and is an excellent people manager. So it works for her.
It’s not always the best way to approach a situation — but it often is. And her particular brand of extremely inclusive leadership, I find, is in short supply. If more leaders had some of those tools in their toolkit, work would definitely work better.
But the main thing I saw – yet again – was, as my mother used to say, that there is more than one way to skin a cat. Horrible saying, but you get the jist: there’s usually not just one “right” way to do things. Another leader might have dealt with the same situation in a more directive way and been equally effective; someone else might have used humor; yet another person might have gotten good results by (respectfully) requiring people to make their case. I’ve seen it all, and I’ve seen it work.
There are some core qualities I think all good leaders need (I intend to talk about that in my next post), but beyond that, good leaders come in many flavors….
And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!