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This Week’s Focus: I was recently talking with the chief executive of a business that had introduced 360-degree feedback for the leadership team. The CEO’s coach had summarised the results and told her that, based on the responses, she needed to become less direct with her team. I’ve seen other coaches and writers use terms such as “Servant Leadership”, “Authentic Leadership” and “Level 5 Leadership” to describe the characteristics of a ‘perfect’ leader who is able to combine personal humility with commercial excellence.

But there is no one ‘best’ or ‘perfect’ leadership approach. There are certain leadership tasks – such as setting a clear direction and goals, affirming values, attracting and developing top talent, building commitment and ensuring follow through – but there isn’t a single, superior leadership style. Churchill, Jobs, Ferguson, Lincoln, Nelson, Patton and Branson are all excellent leaders, but none of them could be thought of as ‘servant leaders’ or would respond too well to being told to be less direct with their teams.

I’ve worked with successful leaders of many different styles. I’ve seen excellent leaders who are charismatic and others who are more introverted; leaders who are highly demanding and leaders who are more laid back; leaders who are ruthlessly efficient and others who are chaotically brilliant. The trick is not to try and be something you’re not, but to be the best version of you that you can.

The coach advised the CEO that she needed to change her leadership style. Instead, I suggested that it was the CEO’s team that needed to change their approach, so that they could support her more effectively.

Where are you trying to unnecessarily adapt your leadership style to fit some arbitrary ‘perfect’ model, and how much better would you and your organisation be if you focused, instead, on finding your own best leadership approach?

Off The Record: Minority by Green Day

I want to be the minority

I don’t need your authority

Down with the moral majority

‘Cause I want to be the minority

© Stuart Cross 2016. All rights reserved.