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My Weaknesses and Blindspots in Leadership

Thanks to John, I have reflected more upon my leadership and my primary styles.
This is why I am having some trouble adapting to the current situation.
I reviewed the Power University lessons, and this has helped me immensely.

The styles of leadership that I am more familiar with

  • Coaching - I have coached a team of people on technical skills and processes to move a project forward.
  • Visionary - I have successfully led a team of people to buy into a vision, and they willingly go above & beyond towards that vision because they think it is inherently value-adding to society.
  • Democratic - I tend to let each person voice their own opinion, and I like to take that into account.
    I also highly value the different perspectives brought to the table.
  • Affiliative - I like to build more personal relationships with team members.
    This allows us to work together at an even more synergistic level.

I would not be so good at these 2 types of leadership

  • Pacesetting - to a degree, I push people but not to an extreme degree of excellence.
    I have yet to bring people to the edge of their abilities.
    I only do this to myself.
  • Commanding - I was in the military when I was young for a while.
    I did not appreciate the commanding nature of leadership in that environment.
    I can see where this is a valuable style of leadership, especially in a crisis, is important.

I have quite a servant style of leadership where I focus on providing value.
The problem here is that I "forgot" about the power dynamic element and allowed value-taking behaviour to eat into my authority.
Very important as someone to maintain my own status, authority and prevent value-taking behaviour in the team.
This is the responsibility of a leader.
I have to say that I am failing at this at the moment.

I can incorporate bluster style of leadership from time to time.
This is part of my work on voice to sound more charismatic.

So my weakness is in more autocratic and dominant styles of leadership.
Right now, there are value-taking elements in my culture.
And I need to smooth them over.
As such, I think I should lean towards these styles of leadership to a greater degree

  • Visionary
  • Pacesetting
  • Commanding

Great introspection. As I said, in your case I don’t think that your problem is a problem of leadership or leadership style.

It’s more a problem of 1-to-1 interpersonal relationships.

It’s good to question oneself but if you question yourself in everything you do, you’ll lose your “footing” and be more susceptible to attacks.

Today you said that you were focusing on defending against social climber and now you’re talking about leadership style. That is why I told you that I think that social skills come first. Don’t fix what is not broken.

I realised that I am better at dealing with social climbing when I am not a leader and outside of business situations.
I reflected on why this is so.
Then I realised it's about where I put my focus upon when I am given the leadership position.
My less autocratic style of leadership style makes it more susceptible to attacks by social climbers.

Now, I need to incorporate some of the social skills as you suggested in the business environment.
This would be how I can counter social climbers.

Be more adaptable as you have advised me on another thread.

My less autocratic style of leadership style makes it more susceptible to attacks by social climbers.

Why do you think so? I don't understand.

Starting out as a less autocratic leader carries some risk.

Here is the thread that explain the risks associated with less autocratic styles of leadership:

New Manager Approach at the Start - Authority vs Collaboration

Here is the same point in the article of "How to be a Leader":

#3. Err On The Authoritarian Side When Starting Off

The main quote

If you start too democratic and affiliative (see Goleman, 2013), people will expect all decisions to be democratic and up to discussion.

And I believe people closer in power realised, in my case, that it is an opportunity to challenge my leadership.

Ok, so your problem is that you are too friendly, right?

But you told me you're not the leader of the group, right?

Anyway, my point is that I don't think it's a matter of leadership style. Democratic is that the majority decides. That's not your case, isn't it? You don't ask what the majority wants and then goes along with it. Or do you?

I think you have more of a boundaries issue and you get manipulated by social climbers. It's up to you man. I gave you my feed-back. I hope it helps.

But you told me you're not the leader of the group, right?

I have been the unofficial leader of the group because I have been planning, executing and doing most of the work to bring the team forward.
It was going well with a friendly atmosphere.

Democratic is that the majority decides. That's not your case, isn't it? You don't ask what the majority wants and then goes along with it. Or do you?

I do get everyone's input on decision-making.
It's not entirely democratic as you say, but most of the times we go with the majority as making the right decision.

Ok, so your problem is that you are too friendly, right?

Now the friendliness has become a problem.
People are starting to play more social-climbing games.

I think you have more of a boundaries issue and you get manipulated by social climbers. It's up to you man. I gave you my feed-back. I hope it helps.

I do think that I need to focus on fending off the social-climbing now.
As you say, there are some boundaries that need to be drawn.

I wrote the above as a reflection of how the dynamics started to change and caught me off-guard.

Thanks for the feedback and discussion to help me with this issue.

Thanks for the feedback and discussion to help me with this issue.

Of course, man!

Now I understand better what is happening. So your group is a mix of free-forming (nobody assigned you these responsibilities but yourself) and of a formal group (as it is a professional environment). So based on what you told me, you do:

  • Democratic leadership: I think given the circumstances, that is the only style that will help you stay in this role. However, as I told you before I think you will solidify this position by improving on your skills. That means you must be an authority on something. Ideally something that the group needs the most. Power dynamics awareness and influence is important but skills are the foundation of any leadership. So I would identify these skills first. I noticed that your company could be quite political rather than technical based on your writing. I would capitalize on that and offer technical skills that they cannot do without (have you read/listened to "linchpin"?). I think you're in a good spot right now. But you have to have a plan and work diligently on it.
  • Meetings: meetings are where the power dynamics are shifting often times. I would either focus on learning about leading a meeting or having results so undeniable that those skills matter less.
  • Your rival: now I understand why he's your rival. Some of it is because you don't have any formal title. It has nothing to with your leadership style. Do not become more authoritarian in this context as you will lose power. The power you have, since you are equals is given to you by your peers, not from above. If you go hard on them, you will lose this fragile power. Keep him closer.
  • Servant leadership: for the hierarchical reasons above, you cannot do without servant leadership: do what the other people in your group don't want to do and they will be happy to have you as a leader. But do it so well, prepare so well, that you cannot be denied this role (meetings again for instance) .

So in Summary, my advice is the following:

  • Identify the skills that makes you weak (not leadership, technical skills) and make you susceptible to being attacked
  • Become excellent at those skills
  • Prepare those meetings like it was the final exam for your diploma. Be ready for any questions. I'm serious. Be ready for any attack and how you're going to respond.
  • I would not be too aggressive, but would focus on providing value, being a humble member. But an excellent member.
  • Get to know better other group members: that will protect you from other attacks. Do it genuinely and open yourself up as well. Make friends and allies
  • Be friendly but not submissive. Be warm but assertive. That's the stance you're looking for, not a change in leadership style: strong and warm.
  • Learn to defend against social climbing.
  • Do not budge. I repeat: do not budge. Do the above and with time they will accept you as an informal leader, I'd say depending on the time you have been there, I think it will take a couple to a few months.
  • Be ready for the strategy above to fail. We do not always win. Preparation is key.

Who is the boss of this group you're working with? Who are his allies and enemy within your group. To understand the power dynamics that it is a key information.

In your case, your leadership does not rise from below (you're not pushed by a crowd like a revolutionary leader) nor from above (like an appointed manager), but from within the ranks. That is the most uncomfortable position, that's why you encounter aggressivity. It's completely normal. Everybody thinks: "I could be doing his role. Why is he doing it instead of me?"

That is the reason you have to give them so they don't ask them their question anymore. I hope this helps. Skills, skills, skills. Learner mindset. This is what is going to help you through this.

One last thing: now you established a new role: the meeting organizer. So now it's easier for someone else to steal your role. They just have to argue that they can do it better than you and that nobody appointed you at this role. Before there was no role, so there was nothing to take. Now there's a cookie! There's a cookie, brother. Keep the cookie!

Cheers!

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