Leadership styles decoded
Leaders are famous without titles, they could be the Founder of the company to the floor manager in the factory. An essential part of the organization, they come at all levels of the management hierarchy. A leadership style is a uniquely personal choice that stems from the individual’s characteristics and often sets the tone for the firm’s outlook. History is rife with examples of leaders who took their organization into the annals of history. If Ford redefined the American automobile industry, then Walt Disney’s creative genius made it the premier institute in media. Similarly, contemporary leaders like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson are known for giving their firms a distinct edge for their ability to constantly challenge norms. It would not be wrong to say that leaders make the organization’s core identity. Each leader has a distinct way in which they influence and lead the organization.
There are some leaders whose driving force is innovation and they settle for nothing less than perfection. Such firms usually operate at the edge of society and their ideas are quite simply put, out of the box. Their firms redefine their segment are usually known for their product excellence and operational excellence. Steve Jobs is a prime example of a leader who believed in his vision. His phone with a single button revolutionized the way we use and design mobile phones. Even today, Apple is known for pushing the envelope and creating products that completely shale the status quo of the industry. Their ideas are usually difficult to execute and they have a reputation for being ‘difficult’ as they push the entire firm towards perfection. They are more driven by abstract ideas and leave the operational aspect to others. Such firms are usually priced at a premium and you will find that they enjoy a distinct brand loyalty in the market. The brand also becomes synonymous with the visionary like in the case of Elon Musk, who is as famous as his firm, Tesla.
The Man Behind the Curtain
These are the leaders that stay in the shadow quietly working and driving the organization with no rhetoric and flamboyance. They are at once the face of the company as they are the ones who would prefer to let their product do the talking. Bill Gates has been one such leader who is known more for his work as a philanthropist rather than the astute businessman that he is. Such leaders usually lend a sense of robustness to the organization and make it a wholesome place where everyone feels involved and connected to the organizational goal. A leader like this is often found in key management roles where they are able to hold the fort down on their division or region. They are also very adept at handling crisis due to their pragmatism and the cool head.
The People’s Person
There are some leaders who understand that a successful organization is one where the employees feel valued. While it is crucial to building better products, they lay a heavy emphasis on the people that make up the organization. They employ an “open door” policy where employees can cut through the chain of command to have their voices heard. Google is one such place where its founders and managers advocate an open space where employees are encouraged to voice their opinions and concerns. They also encourage feedbacks and major decisions are taken democratically. With the rise in the importance of human capital, such leaders have become the norm rather than the exception. They believe in teamwork and ensure that everyone is a part of the process and is heard.
Often, such organizations build a strong community and see a low employee turnover rate due to greater job satisfaction.
Some leaders were cautionary tales before they became a success. Forged through failures, they are diligent and thorough. They lend the same sense of valuing hard work across the organization. For this, they may also get the unfair reputation of being harsh. Firms with the underdog success leaders usually have a very strong work ethic where workers have an equal chance of rising through the ranks. They will value growth in hard data over the abstract discussion of ideas and are usually the first ones to take a risk. Alibaba’s Jack Ma found success after a string of failures and rejections. Despite it all, he rose to become the founder of Alibaba, one of the biggest names in the e-commerce industry. His firm follows his unyielding attitude and fearlessness as they venture to capture a bigger share of the market. His employees derive a sense of determination and courage from his story propelling it to its current trajectory.
Some leaders tend to center the organization around them and have the final say in all that they do. They control each aspect of the business and do not involve other employees in the decision-making process. Such organizations have very little flexibility and are not exactly conducive to long-term growth. This is not to say that such leaders are unfair however their style does prove to limit in the long run. The company guidelines usually flow from the leader’s personal beliefs and are strictly enforced. The popular image of the difficult boss comes to find. Though highly caricaturist in pop culture, they do have some points right. Their organization is an extension of themselves and they are prone to making it a one-man show.
In many ways, leaders define the entire chain of command at an organization. From the organization’s core values to its product and especially the voice of the brand, their uniqueness leaves a definite mark. The organization draws its identity and core values from them. There is no thumb rule that defines a good leader or style, rather it is a highly subjective matter that depends on industry, environment, and people. We must also not mistake that leaders are only found in the major positions in a firm. As they say, all leaders may not be managers but all managers must be leaders.