I’m frequently on the look-out for articles or new ideas related to self-management and goal-setting. Sometimes it shows up in articles about management or leadership. One such article I found recently was Figure Out the Leadership Style That Fits Who You Are on the Harvard Business Review blog site. Written by William C. Taylor back in August, I was reading through it again this week and basically his argument is that there are a small set of leadership styles, and we should try to figure out what type we are.
The Classic Entrepreneur. Sure, these leaders care about the values their company stands for, but it’s the dollars-and-cents value proposition that matters most. They love to build killer products and butt-kicking companies.
The Modern Missionary. Winning is less about beating the competition than it is about building something original and meaningful. Success is less about making money than it is about making a difference and having an impact.
The Problem Solver. They worry less about dramatic impact than about concrete results. They believe in the power of expertise and the value of experience. These top-down, take-charge, the-buck-stops-here executives may be the most recognizable sorts of leaders, in terms of the image we carry around of what it takes to get things done.
The Solution Finder. This style is about incremental results and concrete solutions, but these leaders believe that the most powerful contributions often come from the most unexpected places — the hidden genius of their colleagues, the collective genius that surrounds their organization. They’re ultimately responsible for business results, but they believe that achieving those results is everybody’s business.
I would use completely different wording than Taylor. For me, it is the “deal seeker”, the “activist”, the “expert” and the “collaborator”. While those may be just semantics to understand the different types, where Taylor loses me is to suggest that we are one of those types. Generally, people might have default styles when in crisis mode — when stressed, overwhelmed, etc., they may default to a base archetype, just as people often will in psychological terms — but discussions of leadership have long moved past the notion of a “natural leadership style” and more about about the masks we can choose to don for whatever occasion we need…the hard-nosed business type when a deal is in the works that calls for it. The missionary or activist when dealing with an issue that is more about values than profit.
I like the initial premise of the article, if not the full execution.