Leadership is often taught as a single skill whereas in fact the term ‘leadership‘ covers some very different and distinct characteristics. Churchill is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest leaders, his supreme confidence turning his country’s military approach from defensive to offensive.
Yet this same bombastic approach turned out to be his Achilles heel when, after the war, he failed as a peace time politician. Ghandi achieved similar notoriety yet was a very different character.
Just being a good leader is not always sufficient; here we’ll look at three very different sorts of leader, each uniquely equipped to lead in very different circumstances:
Servant Leadership is a term coined by Robert Greenleaf and many other writers, describing a leader that gives attention to the needs of their colleagues and sees their role as a facilitator and humble steward of the organisation’s resources. Characteristics displayed by servant leaders include the ability to listen, demonstrate empathy and persuade. As a consequence servant leaders have to work harder to operate strategically and take tough decisions when under pressure.
Visionary leaders are natural communicators that use imagery and their vision of the future to inspire their followers to strive towards a better world. Their enthusiasm is infectious and this alone will often be enough to attract the team and resources required to achieve their goal. They can be prone to overlooking detail and ignoring the current reality if it threatens their dream.
Turn-around leaders get excited by chaos, they yearn to untangle mess. They love to work out a way forward, identify the success factors and set the organisation on its way. They are skilled negotiators, immensely determined and not afraid to rock the boat. Those around them can find them insensitive, particularly during the early period of their tenure and just when they have the ship on an even keel they are likely to jump overboard looking for their next casualty.
Next time we’ll look at strategists, pastors and entrepreneurs.