top of page

Paradigm shifts!

October 16, 2023

I am back in college and just finished my first class on "Foundation for Strategic Leadership". I always have loved learning and being back in a formal setting is wonderful, overwhelming, and inspiring. Wonderful, because I get to work in a small cohort and get to know them as we learn. Overwhelming, because why did I think I can run a non-profit and go to school? Inspiring, because there is so much to learn.

This class was going through the history of leadership styles and now I realize why the older generation and the younger generation clashes in the work world. Early leadership was managed through authority and compliance. You did what your boss told you, no questions asked. Leaders were considered to be 'born' as leaders. Then we moved to the trait approach where we started looking for specific traits people had (intelligence, self-confidence, determination etc..) From there we went to the skills approach which focused on technical, human and conceptual skills. Then came the era of the behavioral approach where we started to look at the partnership between employer and employee and leaders started to see the skills of the workers more. A situation might demand a different leadership style, and we help people to develop their skills more. As you can see things started becoming more humane. Employees started to be treated better and the transformational and authentic leadership came into the forefront where leaders needed to step up, live authentic lives and recognize their employees as a vital part of their work.

My favorite leadership style is probably the servant leadership approach where the leader becomes the servant to empower the employees to become the best version of themselves by providing them with opportunities to grow and develop their strengths.

There are other leadership styles and for me to look at this has been eye opening. To think that my generation grew up with a very different leadership approach (top down, no questions asked) than the younger generation that is more focuses on team leadership, inclusiveness and ethical approaches, no wonder generations sometimes clash. What we saw as 'normal' is not even on the radar of the younger generation. What they think as 'normal' would not even cross our minds.

So, when things don't work at the City or County Board level, or in school board meetings, or in the business world, it might, in part be, a clash of leadership styles and maybe we need to rethink how we handle things.

My good old German approach "do as I tell you" totally undermines the wonderful giftedness of my staff and their ingenuity to solve issues in different ways and get things done. So I had to adjust and become the leader that is needed to empower people. But it still is not easy, especially when I am under stress, I tend to revert to old patterns of behavior.

So, what is your leadership style? Do you need a paradigm shift? Do you need to learn another style of leadership that fits our time?

bottom of page