I was listening to a Chris Locurto podcast the other day. The topic was leadership styles and how they affect people. The conclusion was very simple but for some reason I had never really thought through it very carefully before.
Here is the comment I left on the podcast’s blog: Leadership Styles in the Workplace
When you said the teams in your leadership exercise preferred any other leadership style above the “absent leader” I literally stopped in my tracks (nearly causing a horrible workplace accident as people in the hall behind me had to stop walking or quickly step around me to avoid a collision). I am not sure why but that statement was a shocking moment of clarity for me, a gestalt shift. In retrospect it is such an obvious concept.
I think there is this idea in the US, probably a result of our political structure, that there is nothing to be avoided more than a dictatorship. Give me liberty or give me death! But the insight from your retreat is a strong anecdote that anarchy is even worse. Where there is no vision, the people perish. Why do people follow a dictator? They want clarity. (I also think this explains the current election cycle…and I will leave it at that)
Over the last few months I have been thinking almost constantly about leaders I have worked for and why I thrived under some and chafed under others. Your single statement from this podcast helped everything click into place. The bottom line was this one point…my respect for the leader was directly proportional to how engaged they were. Were they pushing me to be better? Calling me out when I messed up? Were they setting standards, looking for input, considering the thoughts of the team, incorporating other ideas, and helping the team grow? Those were the leaders I would follow again.
Laissez faire leadership style is not leadership. It is a cop out…and the fastest way to lose confidence of your team.