The How & What of Leadership

By January 24, 2018Articles

Out of sheer curiosity, I asked numerous people what “Leadership” meant to them. What became obvious, quickly, was that leadership can be defined in any number of ways, depending upon background, leadership experience, and, surprisingly, a person’s willingness to own his or her own power and authority.

I was surprised to learn that most respondents considered leadership, authority, and power to be one and the same trait. Contrary to what may be popular thought, leadership, authority, and power are each very different traits.

When asked to differentiate. authority was considered to come only with a position of a certain rank. Power was often equated with “power-over” and leadership was, for some, an arduous task that came with heavy responsibility. (This opinion was offered by some who never held a leadership post as well as one who had been a team leader for years in a position that was certainly mismatched to his skill set.)

Sadly, for this last person his opinion was a result of “Murphy’s Law,” where because he had excelled in knowledge in his field, as a Thought Leader, he was put in a Team Leadership position that he was absolutely ill suited for. Let me explain: below are the various archetypes or styles of leadership and what they encompass. Each has its own unique set of skills and vulnerabilities.:

  • Thought Leader  – one who naturally thinks out of the box and is creative.
  • Team Leader– one who thrives on knowing the strengths and vulnerabilities of those on the team and discovering how they can all work together as a cohesive unit.
  • Supportive Leader–one who comes alive in using his or her power to help others succeed.
  • Visionary Leader– action taker, one who flourishes in the spotlight as the face of a company.
  • Organizational Leader –one who is enlivened by creating organizational procedures and protocols – subsets of subsets.

Because these are not interchangeable a far greater understanding of the various styles, or archetypes, of leadership is needed to support appropriate career placement and company success.  It also supports knowing what path to take as you develop your role in the firm.

In my experience, first as a psychotherapist, as well as the founder of 4 companies, and finally as a strategic partner for those in leadership positions who are growing into positions of even greater authority and power, I have come to see leadership as a skill with which we impact people and/or companies to become more than was ever imagined possible.

An effective leader, conscious of his or her own power, authority, and leadership, confidently encourages and develops leaders throughout the organization by creating a culture that is open to, and stimulated by, the strength, ideas, and influence of its various leaders, employees or members. It is an ever-growing process which keeps the company and its leaders ahead of the game. Success requires constant growth.

A surprising question is, is the company and/or its leaders truly ready to become more than ever before?More powerful? More confident? More present? More visible? Without these, you will discover that the person who is only capable of handling a company at the level it is at now, but not capable of handling a larger company, larger accounts, more employees, more vendors, and simply more, will destroy the company out of fear.

For a larger firm, with an increasing influence, each leader needs, logically, to become a “larger” person. Most of the time the greatest challenge is simply in giving themselves permission to do so. It requires taking a risk to become the leader they are now ready to become. I truly believe that when you dream it, it is because you are now ready for it. Frequently, however, this is the point where I am called in.

Not surprisingly, in situations like this some have an ability to create disastrous scenarios in their mind that give them permission to stay stuck, to stay small. They want more yet are frightened either because they are creating scenes of the company closing, or because they see themselves failing and never working again, being hated, and ridiculed etc. Some are also terrified their changing will cost them their marriage, their relationships, and their sense of who they are in the world. To the contrary, marriages, relationships, and who you are in the world need to grow as well.

For others, the fear of growing beyond the immediate positioning is fear of not knowing everything they think they need to know. Who does? Pick any leader you can think of. Do you really believe he or she knew then what they know now? A large part of knowledge becomes wisdom and that only comes from experience.

Changing your self-image and claiming your personal style of leadership results in creating the life and career you want and it is a task only you can achieve.  Only to the extent that you own your personal style of leadership, your ability to define your life and your role in it, are you then able to help define the culture needed by your company and your role in that as well.

Trusting yourself as you go, owning your innate leadership, your intuition, your “gut knowing”, and then learning the new skills that are needed, within your leadership style, are all actually very simple – once you make the decision to grow and develop your leadership as yours.

I’d love to hear what you think and support you in developing and owning your leadership skills. Contact me at Dorothy (at) askdrdorothy.com or call (860) 543-5629

To Your Success,

About Dorothy

Dr. Dorothy’s life story of coming from an orphanage, being raised in the housing projects of South Boston, becoming a Catholic nun, an international airline stewardess, a wife, mother, graduate faculty member, Clinical Instructor at a Medical School, and so much more provides the perfect backdrop for her message of joy, humor, passion and faith as the necessary tools for life.