One of the greatest questions about business is whether the leader at the helm of the company really makes such a difference to the success of the business.
Leaders build, inspire and motivate. If you consider your own life and career, how many people have built, motivated, or inspired you? And how many of those people were leading the company that you worked for at the time? True leadership is a rare quality, and driven employees seem to work productively with or without an effective leader.
Decades of leadership studies contemplate personal attributes, traits, varying styles, followers’ perceptions, and leadership outcomes to determine what makes an effective leader. The reality is that it is the situation that decides what makes an effective leader.
The person who is able to make use of the resources available to them while building, inspiring and motivating their followers is the person who is an effective leader – regardless of age, experience, behaviour and so forth.
We have two clients who both run successful businesses. These two men utilise completely polar opposite leadership styles.
The one is an authoritarian who dictates how things must be done and by when. His staff cower when he walks through the business and a ‘thank you’ from him is highly prized.
The other is completely consultative and embraces a transactional approach of give and take between the business and the staff. The staff feel comfortable to confide in him, speak to him and make suggestions.
Both business leaders have frustration, failures and successes. The staff in one business are motivated by fear and to please; whereas the staff in the other business take ownership of their results. Both businesses face challenges and both business leaders have human resource issues.
The bottom line is that no one approach is correct. The leadership style that works is the right one, at the right time, in the right business.
In the words of Scott Hammerie: “People don’t follow you because you are nice, they follow you because they believe the place you are taking them is better than the place they are.”