Is an effective leader visionary or democratic? Maybe both? We believe that the most successful leaders are able to adapt their leadership styles to business situations and they can switch among leadership styles as needed. Different management style is suited for strategic planning process and crisis management. Powerful leaders can also behave differently in each phase of the business cycle. However, there is only so much any person can change. And character traits are closely associated with leadership styles. They determine for a great deal the typical attitudes of any leader.
Looking at popular quotes easily found on the internet we plotted a couple of famous – in the news – leaders. This way an interesting pattern emerged.
We, myself and I
There is the collaborative leader on one hand of the spectrum. On the other hand you have the visionary captain taking all the decisions by him(mostly him) self. That doesn’t mean collaborative leaders can’t be visionary but it tell a lot about how leaders try to reach their goals.
It just feels right vs first principles
Another pattern that emerged was the way decisions are being made. You can take logical thinking and data gathering to an extreme (Elon Musk’s first principles approach) making you data-driven. Or you can have an instinct strong enough to create Steve Job’s famous “reality distortion field’.
Loosely fitting life cycle
Two dimensions lead to four quadrants. And they put interesting companies together. In a start-up phase a founder team often works together closely on a shared dream. They feel they are on to something: Intuitive, WE. If things go well they want to grow and start gathering data to see how that works best. But still nimble enough to be able to make decisions that reflect the entire company culture the decisions are made by a larger group. Data-Driven, WE. Then in order to sustain growth and keep the then ROI hungry investors happy there is often a transition period. Money needs to be made, though decisions need to be taken. A power struggle emerges and a Captain arrises. Taking decisions based on data. Data-driven, I. Then, when a company has made money for years innovators dilemma catches on. This is a situation that requires a captain willing to take a visionairy decision on the future of which she has no data yet. Based on intuition. Intutive, I.
Obviously this is just a way of looking at it and by no means science. But I think it does show that it can help to be conscious about your leadership style. Being aware of what kind of leadership you are portraying can give insight in the phase your company is in.
We are always open to your feedback so if you think we should change something about this map, or have other remarks please let me know.