This weekend, I had to give a speech on Leadership Styles as part of my Toastmasters project. Thought of penning down my speech in this blog. So here goes my blog on leadership styles.
In today’s world the problems that we are face are very complex – how do we curb the spread of COVID-19 virus, finding a cure for the COVID-19 disease, can the computers process data faster, how can transportation be made faster, how do we colonise Mars, how can we prevent people from going hungry, global warming – to name a few. Compare this to the Stone Age man. All he had to do was to worry about striking a fire, ensure availability of food and safety of his family – something which an individual could do easily.
Since the stone age, our intelligence has evolved and individuals have contributed to multiple inventions and discoveries as result of which mankind stands where it is today. However, to solve the problems of today, we need many people with diverse skills to come together. To lead a group of people, is where a leader comes in. A leader sets the vision for the group and motivates people towards achieving the same. It is not just religion and politics, corporates and communities need leaders too.
So, what are the essential traits of a leader? The most important trait is communication. If a leader cannot communicate effectively, there is no way the team will be able to understand and achieve the vision they have set out to conquer. Leaders must lead from the front. If they do not demonstrate the belief in the vision and passion for achieving it, the team will just not follow. Above all Leaders must have high personal integrity. If not, the environment is filled with lack of trust. Without trust no one will believe in the leader or his/her vision.
Till a few years ago, if you had the most expertise and experience in your group, you automatically became the leader of the group. This no longer holds good today as teams are composed of members with diverse skills. A leader may not have all the skills required to solve the mission on hand and hence it is essential that leaders leverage each member’s skills to drive success.
An Autocratic style of leadership no longer works. It is necessary that leaders use multiple styles of leadership and not just depend on one leadership style. Of course, you will have a dominant style, but experiment with other styles depending on the context on hand.
Below is a summary of the various leadership styles as articulated in the Toastmaster manual. Each style as it’s pros and cons and should be used as the situation demands.
Leaders comes in different personalities – some boisterous, some quiet and some strike a balance in between. For me, the hallmark of a true leader is humility, confidence and having the team’s back.
Leadership is associated with power and this naturally makes everyone aspire to be a leader. But remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Hence leaders need to stay grounded and take everyone along on the journey they have set out.
Can anyone become a leader? I firmly believe that each one of us can be a leader. Take the example of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Till the age of 24, he led a relatively simple and quiet life. The discrimination he faced in South Africa was the trigger and Gandhiji, later went to play a key role in securing India’s independence from British rule.
History and businesses are testimony to many leaders who have been late bloomers. It is never too late. Everyone can be a leader in his/her sphere of life, provided one is committed to a purpose and believes in it.