Leadership is important, but sometimes it can be hard to be a good leader. On November 9, Mark Mondry lectured about leadership as part of the Engineering and Technology Management series. He started by engaging the audience and asking what leadership meant to them. “You’ve probably experienced good leadership in your lifetime. Think about somebody that was an impressive leader, an inspiring leader to you, and think about what made them an inspiring leader…what kind of attributes did that person have?”
After listening to responses from the audience, Mondry turned their attention to a 20-minute video called, “How great leaders inspire action.” In the video, Simon Sinek speaks about how leaders inspire people to follow them. His main idea is that people follow a leader’s vision because they believe it to be true. The rest of Mondry’s lecture continually referred back to the ideas in this video, which can be found on www.ted.com. “If you really do have a well-articulated, inspiring belief that people can attach their own beliefs to, they will follow automatically because it’s self-fulfilling for them, not because you’re a leader,” Mondry stated. “As a leader it’s not only about you…it’s about getting that other person to think differently and act differently. It’s a pretty powerful concept.” With so much discussion about having a vision and inspiring other people, Mondry posed the question, “Is leadership only about inspiration?” He answered this question by saying, “no, inspiration is only the beginning of becoming a leader because it attracts followers.” The rest of leadership can be defined in five basic phrases: model the way, inspire a shared vision, encourage the heart, challenge the process, and enable others to act.
A good leader doesn’t say things just to say them. “Modeling the way is really about showing behaviors that you’re trying to propagate in your team,” Mondry explained. A good leader is sure to “walk the talk” as well. Inspiring a shared vision means to clearly define a goal, and encouraging the heart is about stating that goal in a way that will attract people. Challenge the process is about innovation and creativity. “If you’re not constantly looking at things that can
be challenged, then how can you create a new future?” Mondry asked. “Leaders are constantly identifying opportunities to create a new future, to improve things…to inspire people to do
more.” Lastly, leadership is not all about having power and authority. A good leader enables others to act. “I’m absolutely convinced your careers are going to be built on collaboration,”
exclaimed Mondry. “You’ll see very few truly inspiring leaders that try to take all the credit.” With leadership fully defined, Mondry continued on to discuss different leadership styles. Most people have a distinct style of leadership, but “the truly inspiring leaders are the ones that recognize that styles are different tools that need to be captured, used, and modified with the occasion and circumstance.” There are six leadership styles, and the all have their pros and cons.
The first type of style is visionary. Mondry states, “these kinds of leaders are generally not good at telling you ‘how.’” Visionary leaders are usually the ones who want to start a new company or who want to take something in a new direction. Although they have
The next leaders are coaching and affiliated leaders. Coaching leaders like to work one-on-one with people, which is great for individual development; however, these leaders can often be seen as “micro-managers.” With affiliated leaders, “the focus is on how to create a working environment that is harmonious, that is participative, that is not destructive.” Affiliated leaders usually arise when a company is trying to rebuild after a crisis.
Democratic leaders like to incorporate every team member’s ideas into something truly innovative. The problem with this type of style is that when urgency is needed, a democratic leader cannot make a quick decision without the team’s consensus. On the other hand, a pace-setting leader sets a high standard of pace, output, and quality of output. “You know these people,” Mondry stated. “Type triple-As.” While these leaders get a lot of work done, they tend to create a very stressful environment. The last type of style is commanding, which is often associated with the military. However, “even the military has moved away from this style as the dominant style” because statistics show that it is not very effective. “But it applies when you need immediate compliance,” Mondry said. All of these leadership styles can be seen in anyone by everyone.
A great leader can have many different attributes, but the most important thing is to have a vision that inspires others to follow. With the right tools and the right mindset, anybody can become a great leader.