Most people often romanticize the notion of business. Whether it be they own a business or are merely in it, people often see companies as a vessel that they will ride into the sunset, fulfilling dreams and goals along the way. This image of a ship or ship trudging through the waters of uncertainty and powerfully carrying people, their hopes and aspirations is very captivating and alluring. Of course, just like a real life ship this business vessel can never reach its port of call, or leave the dock for that matter, without a capable captain. In the business world, these captains are business leaders. They can take the form of a single person (like the proprietor, CEO or President) or a team of highly capable leaders (such as a Board of Directors or C-Suite executives).
These captains, these leaders of the organization must be vigilant, must be knowledgeable, respectable and trustworthy. They must all at once determine the best route that the business must navigate while positioning the employees to make it happen. Leaders by their very title must be able to lead, but what few people understand is that there are several types or styles of leadership. Some leaders adhere to only one style, but the most efficient and effective leaders are those who can seamlessly flow from one leadership style to another, depending on the situation that the business is in it.
Knowing the different leadership styles is not only good for the leader but also those seeking to understand why leaders do what they do. For example, a leader whose business is currently experiencing a significant amount of stability may want to exercise a transactional form of leadership. It is where leaders will want to assume a supervisory role, focus on the maintenance of the current organization and optimizing performance. When a business experiences a sudden shift and a significant change occurs, leaders will want to transition to a transformational style of leadership. It requires leaders to not only assess and field the change but also work in unison with their employees to ensure that the modification is executed properly and causing as little friction as possible. Finally, contextual leadership needs in an environment that is experiencing constant change and chaos. In this, the leader does not fight the change that is happening (doing so will only create more confusion). Instead, their goal is to understand the changes happening and capitalize on them. The goal will be to take advantage of enough change and gain momentum in the business in the process. It will continue until the environment has stabilized and they can transition to a transactional role.
There are threads of similarity that permeates leadership, regardless of the style employing. They must first have a clear vision of what they are hoping to achieve. It does not only mean that they know what they want but also in how they will be getting it. Laying out and knowing the vision is like putting out a road map. Sure, you can take a trip spontaneously, and there is a fair bit of excitement there, but knowing where to get resources like food and gasoline are essential for success. Likewise, detailing out one’s vision of the business can significantly improve the chances of hitting that goal.
Leaders must also realize that they have a relationship not just with the business but also with the employees and stakeholders. The key to most relationships is communication, and it is the same in this case as well. Being able to clearly and concisely convey the vision, the approach and the plan to the other members of the organization will not just inform them of what’s going on, but will most likely help on getting them on board with the whole idea. It aligns everyone’s mindset and efforts so that the entire business can move forward as one.
Once the rest of the crew has notified about the plans, it is to provide them with the resources to get their tasks done. It means giving them the appropriate information, knowledge, and methods so that they can fulfill their goals and potential, all to realize the vision for the business. Leaders must then coordinate and balance the interests of employees, team members, and stakeholders, which often overlap and sometimes conflict. This balancing act can be tricky, but if done well can lead to a very cohesive and very efficient organization.
Finally, a leader must be cognizant of how their role in the business affects or influences the people within it. An effective leader does not rule over his people but rather works with them, supplies them with resources to get the job done, and if need be, jumps in the trenches with them to bring the vision to life.
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