Written by: Iliana Rocha, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
I strongly believe that honest relationships and ethical foundations are at the core of business success. Being positive and promoting openness in an organization will propel you towards meeting your goals. Many believe that leadership is something you are born with; I believe in a growth mindset – that is, you can learn to be the best leader you possibly can be.
There are a variety of leadership styles and probably even more models to describe them. Following my mantra – the simpler, the better – I’ll use a modified version of the Blake Mouton managerial grid, sprinkled with my own interpretations, to talk about leadership. The grid is based on a leader’s concern for results and concerns for team/individuals.
It goes something like this:
Complete lack of focus results in chaos. But being solely focused on results and not on how those are achieved or growing your employees makes you a tad of a dictator (and gets you sub-par deliverables). You can’t be all nice either – you have to provide guidance and sometimes constructive criticism, or your employees will see you as a pushover. A servant leader, on the other hand, is very focused on results while simultaneously looking to grow people, encourage them, and ensure they enjoy their work environment. A servant leader is focused on providing direction and removing obstacles while allowing the team to do their best work.
Now, you can tell from the naming conventions that I’m not hiding which style I encourage. That is on purpose – I disagree with the adage of “to each their own.” Sure, there are situations and people that will call for different management styles where you won’t really have the option to be nice, let’s say. But overall, I encourage everyone to improve their leadership skills so that they can predominantly operate in the Servant Leader quadrant, not least because I’ve found it to be the style that produces the best results.
Also, the generations that have recently entered the workplace and those entering the workplace soon have a distinct preference for organizations and leaders who trust them and will work with them to improve their skills. So sooner or later, we won’t really have much of choice on leadership style if we want to be successful people managers. The proliferation of agile development and its success in driving quick innovation are testaments to servant leadership's value.
If you aren’t comfortable in the servant leadership quadrant, you need to look at yourself and your team. Are you hiring the right people? If you can’t trust them to do their best work when you have provided guidance and support, then take a look at your hiring practices. But more often than not, the challenge lies within. For most of us, the command and control management principles are deeply ingrained, and we need to work hard on unlearning certain behaviors.
That being said, you still have to be authentic to yourself. Maybe you can operate somewhere in the in-between areas. If you try to just simulate a leadership style, you will appear to be inauthentic, and it won’t work for you or your organization. So you need to adopt a growth mindset and take small steps to grow as a leader.
Iliana Rocha, Executive Contributor, Brainz Magazine
Iliana Rocha is a senior business leader with extensive consulting and coaching experience in all things business. Iliana has been working hand-in-hand with businesses in optimizing their strategy and operations and is now President & Lead Coach at Clubnet Solutions Inc. Her focus is on working with entrepreneurs and small business owners on scaling and transforming their businesses profitably. She is in the process of publishing her first book: Level Up! Low Hanging Fruit to Instantly Improve Your Small Business. Iliana holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Ryerson University, a post-graduate certificate in Strategic Relationship Management from George Brown College, and a Bachelor of Commerce and Finance, with a Major in Economics from the University of Toronto. She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), a certified Agile Coach (ICP-ACC). She is in the process of receiving an International Coaching Federation (ICF) certification as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC).