As a leadership coach I’m often asked about trends in the field—which styles are current and which are growing outdated. But I don’t see leadership as a conflict between established and emerging styles but as a range of styles, old merging with new.
At their core, I believe, most leaders are working to achieve the same things—empowering their people and building strong teams. And the leadership style that outlasts all trends, as it turns out, is a shifting balance between polarities. Here are some of the most important:
A leader must be both a decisive planner and a creative visionary. We all know the importance of planning and decision-making in effective leadership. Stability and consistency are important to organizations. But we also need leaders who are thinking far ahead, creative visionaries who help us see what the future can be. Great leadership embodies both.
A leader must make decisions with conviction and also be agile and flexible toward change. When we think of great leadership, we often think of someone who makes decisions with consistency and clarity. Important as that ability may be, great leaders must also be able to navigate fast-changing situations in which decisions often need to be reconsidered—and sometimes changed.
A leader must be an expert and keep a learner’s mind. We expect leaders to know their subject matter thoroughly, to be professional and masterful at what they do, to ask the right questions and know the right answers. But leaders also need to the ability to say, “Wait, I know a lot but I’m also here to learn.” A willingness to keep learning is one of the most important traits of great leadership.
A leader must be a great communicator and an even better listener. Leaders are called to be great communicators. We expect them to be clear and succinct, to say what they mean and mean what they say, to speak and write with clarity and purpose. But a great leader needs to know not only how to express themselves but also how to listen—an essential skill that few people bother to master.
A leader must be both powerful and humble. Leaders need to acknowledge the power they hold by leading from the top, taking decisive action and inspiring and guiding others while being present in the day-to-day realities. But with that power should come humility and humbleness, qualities that make people feel included and considered.
The best leadership, then, isn’t drawn from any single theory or trend but comes from learning to balance a set of constantly changing polarities. If you want to be the best leader, to embody the kind of leadership that inspires people to do their best work and seek out your support and guidance, you must be attuned in the moment. That kind of leadership will ask different things of you at different times.
Lead from within: The leaders who are the most successful and effective are those who can recognize and balance shifting polarities of all leadership styles.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
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- The One Aspect Of Crisis Management That No One Talks About
- How The Best Leaders Are Already Planning Past The Crisis
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- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
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Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.