Leadership Styles: A View from Social Services

Leadership Styles: A View from Social Services

Leadership is to a great extent the ability to create a vision for the organization being led and move people to commit to help achieving the desired result. Seems simple enough but if it were so, we would have many more leaders from top to bottom in organizations ever where. One question of importance is to think it terms of the leadership traits that support the vision-action-result model. The more knowledge and perspective managers and executives can gain about leadership characteristics and traits, the closer they come to the mission of leadership. Here is an interesting article on the subject…

“Two people who spoke at the SSSC leadership events in March 2013 share their stories with us. They provide two different perspectives on leadership, one personal and the other organisational. 

The leadership presentation led me once again to reflect on my role. After my initial bravado I was suddenly struck by the thought “What if I am not a leader?” Luckily I got past that and you will be relieved to know that I am…!

I used a few examples from my own learning to define leadership. Firstly that leadership is an art rather than a science; that there is no formula for leadership is very reassuring for many of us. Leadership can take many forms and be fulfilled by a wide range of individuals. Secondly I explained that sometimes all that is required to be a leader is to have followers.

I think a quote from the philosopher Lao Tzu defines a particular style:

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists; not so good when people obey and despise him. When the great leader leaves, his aim fulfilled and his work done, the people say ‘We did it all ourselves’.”

This is the type of leader I aspire to be. Someone who, when the job is done and done well, finds fulfilment in that and leaves behind a team who no longer needs them. The type of leader we wish to be and the type of leader our team may need are two very different matters. Last year I moved to a new service leaving behind a well-established, proactive team with a strong distributed leadership style and joined a new and very different team. There had been a lot of change in my new service and that unsettling experience of never knowing quite where or when the goals might change had left a team that felt disempowered. My preferred style didn’t meet their needs. They needed a visible leader who does and is seen to do. So that, at this stage, is what I must be, to allow us to grow together as a team.”

Certainly Lao Tzu knew about the perspective of leadership. Perhaps this thought, ” people barely know he exists” still works in today’s fast paced world. Maybe it’s not so simple anymore?  Most certainly, one of the key traits for successful leaders is the ability to select and develop strong developing leaders in the organization. The capacity to both develop the skills for managing people and the technical aspects of particular position of leadership represent the fact that leadership is an art and a science. In the end, selling the vision and rallying the troops to it are the bottom line.


Subject Matter Video:

Featured Posts: Leadership Fundamentals

Related Resources: Leadership and Resilence

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