It’s Time to Stop Confusing Leadership and Management

Leadership is deciding what has to be done and getting others to want to do it. 
In working with clientsI have found that often leadership and management are used interchangeably. However, leaders and managers have very distinct responsibilities. Confusing the two or treating them the same can cause create very dysfunctional organizations and overwhelmed leaders. 
First, let me explain the practical difference between management and leadership.
Management is about work standards, resource allocation, and organizational design. Management historically got its start at the onset of World War I. It was around that time that Harvard University created its masters programs while other schools and universities also focused their efforts on varying fields within business management.
Leadership, on the other hand, is about vision, motivation, and trust. Developing people and organizations to grow and have a bigger impact. Leaders must deal with change and strongly consider time as they move their team or organization into the future. 
I am a lifelong Cubs fan. Seeing them win the World Series was an unforgettable experience. I believe that the key to their success was the hiring of a new manager, Joe Maddon. Management in baseball is about the use of data and use of statistics – how fast a player can run, the speed of their pitch, the angle they hit the ball ator how quickly they move in the outfield. This provides the manager with a very large amount of data. But, just collecting tons of data is not enough. The manager also has to decide what data is most important to collect in analyzing a players strength and therefore the overall strength of the team.
Leadership on the other hand is about heartbeat. A leader must learn about that individual, interview themand perhaps even interview their family members to find out if they are a good fit for the team. Will they be more concerned about the name on the back of their jersey than the name the front? While a player may have the right data it is also important to make sure they will fit into our team or organization. 
Mangement is a science. Leadership is an art. 
As you move up in your team or organization with increasing responsibilities you may find that you will be spending less time on management tasks of your job – those responsibilities should be delegated to those you have selected to be on your winning team. Your responsibility now lies in keeping your team focused on the vision, keeping them motivatedand continually building their trust in you and in themselves. 

We want to hear from you! Share with us in the comments below how you think leadership and management differ.

Dr. Jeffrey McCausland, Founder & CEO of Diamond6 Leadership & Strategy, LLC is a retired Army Colonel with over 30 years of unique and challenging leadership experiences. As a retired military officer and veteran, Jeff’s work has taken him all over the world serving in a variety of command and staff positions in places such as the on National Security Council Staff, U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA, and the Pentagon.

How to achieve buy-in? Six tips on how to become a great communicator

It’s easy to identify communication as a key component of leadership success, but many struggle to relay an idea or get their bosses, colleagues and subordinates to “buy-in” to their ideas. If you have a strategic vision for your company and your role within it, it is essential to impart that upon others and gain their endorsement.

Below are six tips that you can immediately incorporate to get to that next level of communication success and earn the essential “buy-in” of your peers.

Show it. Sometimes it’s just about looking the part. Communication can be about your outward appearance, often the foundation of your first impression. This doesn’t mean how you are dressed necessarily, but instead how you hold yourself. Prove your confidence by showing it. This can influences how you express an idea: an energetic tone, smiling, nodding, strong eye contact, firm handshake, and an easy and relaxed posture. All these display, engage and bolster “buy-in.”

Keep it simple. Over-explanation will be the first nail in your coffin. If no one knows what you are talking about, then it will be nearly impossible to fulfill your strategic vision. Complexity is valued by the lonely, and triumph is never attained alone. Confident leaders will make it simple for those around them, allowing those people to “buy-in” to the idea. Yes, you might sound smart using industry jargon and flourishes, but there’s no quicker way to lose a room and tamp down excitement.

Share. We have a tendency to want to keep everything close to the chest, but sometimes it’s overkill. If you’re seeking investment from people in your company, they need to know what the hell is going on. Tell them. Sharing information strategically will make you more valuable to your organization and potentially raise your profile as an expert. This is how trust is built, and it will develop that “buy-in” you want from bosses, colleagues, and subordinates.

Improvise. Any great leader can identify a communication formula that works, and it’s needed because the modern work environment forces people to think on their feet. Brevity is the soul of wit and the avenue to the desired “buy-in.” Learn to give off-the-cuff statements that concisely summarize your point in a few sentences or less. Someone who can deliver on his/her feet impresses everyone, and that improvisation is a craft that can be mastered.

Spin a yarn. Humans naturally communicate by telling stories, so use that to your advantage. Add anecdotes to meetings and presentations as well as casual conversations to drive home the points and ideas that you want to impact onto others. Some may find it difficult to remember only the essential point. But once it is illustrated in a story, people can use it as a guiding light to remember and more easily “buy in” to the concept.

Ask questions. Any great leader knows that their education is never complete. If you don’t take the time to hear what’s happening from the basement to the penthouse of your company, then you’re not going to address problems that could blow up later and maybe even miss some opportunities. It’s important to make yourself available and hear from others. Because no mater how smart you are, you don’t have all the answers.

Yes, sometimes the answers won’t matter, but colleagues and subordinates will always appreciate you taking a moment to step back and listen.

Learn “The Cubs Way” and Share the Win

Diamond6 Leadership & Strategy has a soft spot for the Chicago Cubs, as D6 CEO Jeff McCausland is a lifelong fan. But the Cubs are also a masterclass in leadership, especially when we consider General Manager Theo Epstein.

Epstein has broken two baseball “curses” during his 15 years as a Major League Baseball general manager. He first took on the helm of his hometown team — the Boston Red Sox  — where he brought the Curse of the Bambino to an end in 2004. In 2012, he came to the Cubs, completely rebuilt the team and won a World Series within five years.

He is a managerial legend now, but it still came as a surprise when he was named Fortune Magazine’s best leader in the world — even beating out the pope. Yet his reaction to the magazine’s honor also proves his qualities as a great leader.

The baby-faced manager, only 43, said he was taken aback by the top spot.

“Um, I can’t even get my dog to stop peeing in my house,” Epstein texted ESPN writer Buster Olney. “This is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous.”

But it’s that exact dismissal that is evidence he is such a great leader. It is that rejection that proves his sense of modesty and humility — an integral characteristic of leadership. Epstein would be the first to say that he is not singularly responsible for changing the culture of an entire franchise and bringing the first baseball championship to the city of Chicago in 108 years. But it must be noted that his organizational changes brought the Cubs a victory.

“It’s baseball — a pastime involving a lot of chance,” Epstein told Olney, before bringing up a player he signed as an example. “If [utility player Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches farther off the line, I’m on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I’m not the best leader in our organization; our players are.”

A weaker person would have immediately taken credit for others’ wins, but Epstein is unwilling to bask in that glory. Instead he readjusts it and places the honor at the feet of the members of his organization, such as the players.

A good leader knows that the successes of a “team” isn’t the result of any one person. We must recognize and acknowledge every individual’s contributions or else we create an environment that doesn’t encourage success. No organization wants to stifle good work, so understand the new “Cubs Way” and share the achievement in order to inspire accomplishment.

Leadership Found and Fought at the Alamo

Some historians regard the Mexican defeat in the Texas Revolution as among the most influential developments in the emergence of the United States as a hemispheric and, eventually, a world power.

The Diamond6 Alamo Leadership Study offers thought-provoking insights from a battle and campaign that seem familiar—but are not generally well understood. On-the-ground study of this Revolution opens up discoveries that can benefit today’s leaders as they grapple with unpredictable change, inter-cultural influences, powerful personalities, a highly volatile environment, and competing stakeholder aims.

The chaotic conditions in Texas and Mexico in 1836 presented leaders on both sides with wickedly complex challenges. In San Antonio both groups operated at the far end of their range of influence. Misunderstandings of the situation and of the opposition’s aims and qualities forced Samuel Houston, Travis, and David Bowie on the Texian side and Santa Anna and his political and military aides on the other to guess and improvise almost every day.

For the Anglo-Tejano rebels, unexpected attacks on their legal rights, uncontrolled influx of American adventurers, and economic penalties imposed by Santa Anna’s government provoked an ill-organized, mutually suspicious resistance. Disagreements over the question of independence or reform and disputed leadership at state level put Travis and Bowie in a tough, risky position in San Antonio early in the year. Their Tejano partners, led by Navarro and Seguin, faced choices that were doubly hard. In both groups a mistaken conception of Santa Anna’s intention and abilities led them to dangerously false assumptions and compelled rebel leaders to make snap decisions that had decisive effects.

On the other side, Santa Anna saw the resistance in Texas as yet another instance in a long line of Yankee incursions into Mexico. Insecure in power and dealing with opposition in Mexico City and in other states, he had to force a quick decision. His response was ingenious in some respects but deeply flawed in others. The leadership environment he imposed on his army and government played a central part in the contest’s outcome and is notably useful for study today.

The perceptions of observers on all sides constrained their choices and created problems analogous to those that leaders face today. The neutral citizens of Mexico, the population and government of the United States, several European powers, and the Native American tribes of the region all figured in the choices that the opposing leaders had to make.

San Antonio became a decisive point for both sides, unwittingly for the rebels and deliberately for Santa Anna. In the Alamo Leadership Study, participants examine how the actions of Travis and Santa Anna brought on a crisis for both sides. Diamond 6’s expert historians and authorities on leadership theory assist them in developing new ideas about the case itself and about the application of leadership principles to current problems. Past participants from both the private and public sectors have enhanced their leader skills individually and as teams through this event.

Don Holder is an independent consultant on leadership, Joint Force and Army doctrine, and training.  As one of six Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) Senior Mentors, he coached commanders of Army corps, divisions and brigades in advanced training exercises.  He advises doctrine writers and force designers on future operations and lectures on theater operations at foreign and US service schools.

The Battle of Antietam: an interview with Tom Vossler

Colonel Tom Vossler has long been the lead historian of Diamond6 TVossler_Headshot_2016Leadership. He has taken many of our groups through various Civil War battlefields, providing a historical playing field in which to discuss important leadership lessons.

In the past he has teamed up with Carol Reardon, the George Winfree Professor of American History at Pennsylvania State University, to write a history of the Battle of Gettysburg—A Field Guide to Gettysburg: Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History, Places, and People. They have a1rjerl95mlcome together once again to write A Field Guide to Antietam: Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History, Places, and People.

Diamond6 sat down with Col. Vossler to discuss Antietam, its place in Civil War history, and its leadership lessons. September 17 will be the battle’s 154th anniversary.

Why is Antietam important in the context of the Civil War?

This campaign, this battle, is part of a larger picture called the Maryland Campaign of 1862. There has been a string of Confederate victories as they cross the Potomac to begin this new campaign. What is also important to note is that while the Maryland Campaign is being fought, out west there’s a Confederate campaign for the invasion of Kentucky.

These are two simultaneous Confederate advances into two border states, Kentucky and Maryland. From a political and military strategic standpoint, we must remember that President Lincoln said he must have Kentucky or else he would lose its support.

This battle forces the Confederacy back, which is why this battle is so important. The incursion into the border states is turned back by Union forces.

What are four key moments that turn the tide in this battle?

First, this battle takes place on September 17, following the South Mountain battles, which really disrupted Lee’s plans to invade Pennsylvania. He doesn’t make it that far. Meanwhile, General McClellan, the Union commander, could’ve attacked on September 16, but delayed one full day to get his forces ready. But if you flip that coin, that affords Lee another 24 hours in which to get his forces to the battlefield.

The second moment also has to do with McClellan. During the battle, there is an opportunity for him to commit his reserves to a weak point in the Confederate line, but he hesitates and then doesn’t follow through. He fears if he commits his reserve forces, he won’t have any later. That could have split the Confederate defense. Instead it stays in place and frustrates his movements.

The third key moment is the failure of General Ambrose Burnside to make his attack across the lower bridge. There are three bridges—the upper, the middle, the lower—and his forces were at the lower bridge. He had repeated orders to get across the Antietam to attack the Confederate force on the other side of the creek. He delays, and his delay eats up several hours in the battle. This then ties into that fourth moment.

Number four is the timely arrival of an entire Confederate division commanded by General A.P. Hill. They have forced march from Harper’s Ferry, which the Confederates had captured earlier, and arrived on the battlefield just in time to turn back the advance of the Burnside’s 9th Corps.

There is no clear victor in this. From a larger overview, a strategic and operational overview, what is gained is that Lee’s army is forced out of Maryland and the Potomac River Line is restored.

After the battle, what changes do we see in the Union and Confederate leadership?

In the days and weeks after the battle, President Lincoln goes to Antietam to inquire of General McClellan why he has not followed Lee across the river into Virginia. McClellan essentially sits there with his command. He does not go after Lee, and this frustrates President Lincoln. The end result of McClellan’s delay is Lincoln relieves him of command and appoints a new commander. This leads to a continual roll over of leadership. By the time we get to Gettysburg, none of the higher level Union leadership remains.

The same thing happens in the Confederate Army. They lose a number of key leaders when they reorganize the army. They reorganize in a positive way. The replacement of the leadership leads to a slew of powerful victories.

The leadership question is what fascinates me most about Antietam—figuring out where the leaders who were at Gettysburg were at Antietam.

How then does this battle relate to today’s leaders?

What we’re talking about is the growth of leaders and the sorting out of those less capable. They’re not rising to the top anymore. They’re staying in the same position or getting washed out of the organization. The leadership over time gets better. You can watch this happen from First Bull Run, the first major land battle of the Civil War, as they progress through the war.

For today’s leaders that translates into organizational effectiveness, whether we’re talking about a school district or a corporation. At Diamond6, we’re striving to make them effective organizations through the development of their leadership. These leaders in the army, like in any organization, wherever they are they’re being developed and creating a succession of command. Every organization must think about what they’re doing to allow their leadership to mature and grow. That concept is thoroughly explored at Antietam.

Click here to purchase A Field Guide to Antietam: Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History, Places, and People.


Hurricane Katrina: Learning from a Tragedy

It is hard to believe that ten years have passed since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and the Gulf after-hurricane-katrina-new-orleans-wallpapers-1024x768Coast. I had the great pleasure to be in Crescent City this past week as the tragedy of Katrina was remembered. As I was thinking about this commemoration it occurred to me that Katrina was clearly not only a natural disaster but also a leadership disaster at almost every level. Consequently, as we reflect on Katrina and mourn the nearly 2,000 people who lost their lives, leaders should think carefully on what can be learned from this crisis or any crisis to make ourselves and our organizations stronger and better.
A crisis is normally defined as a sudden unexpected disaster, but leaders must recognize that they can unfold slowly over time. Sadly, many of the warnings about the impact of Katrina on the city’s troubled levees were ignored as it approached New Orleans. Crises can be analyzed by careful consideration of their three phases: before the crisis, immediate actions during a crisis, and the aftermath. Leaders must keep this in mind as they not only prepare their organizations to meet the challenge of crisis, react initially, but also learn from crises in order to strengthen them and prepare for new challenges in future.
Before the crisis leaders need to consider how to build resilience. First, it is the leader’s responsibility to emphasize the importance of the organization’s mission, vision, and values. These are the “guardrails” for the organization and provide guidance to all during difficult times. This is a primary role for any leader. If the leader does not talk about them…who will? Second, leaders must emphasize empowerment when things are proceeding normally. This will encourage a climate of initiative at all levels so individuals throughout the organization can take actions quickly during a crisis. Third, crisis planning to include succession planning is essential. General Eisenhower once said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” This is true for leaders today as much as it was for Ike as he prepared for the Normandy invasion. The planning process forces organizations to consider the difficult “what if” questions, recognize that plans that are not rehearsed are useless, and prepare to adapt those plans as the crisis dictates.
Each crisis is unique but careful consideration must be taken of a number of critical factors as the crisis unfolds. First, a leader must never underestimate the severity of a crisis. It may be better to overreact than to be caught ill prepared. Sadly, this lesson seems to stand out clearly in any examination of Katrina. Second, the first question a leader must ask is not “what to do” but rather “what is the problem”? Taking time at the onset to determine the range of issues, options, goals, etc. is key to an effective response. A crisis may be a time when a leader must “make haste slowly.” Third, Colin Powell often said, “optimism is a force multiplier.” Even though the situation may appear dire it is incumbent upon the leader to project optimism and confidence that the organization can meet the challenge. Finally, the leader must further realize the crisis may last a significant period of time. A crisis is often a marathon and not the fifty-yard dash! The leader may need to not only pace him/herself but also be aware of the stress and strain that individual members of the team are experiencing.
Finally, a crisis is a terrible teacher, but effective organizations are those that learn from the experience. In its aftermath leaders must insist that an organized effort is undertaken to examine what can be learned from the crisis. Careful consideration needs to be made of all aspects of the crisis. All stakeholders need to be involved as well as members of the organization both young and old. This is critical if meaning is to be found in negative events. It may drive the organization not only to review and adjust crisis action plans but also create a new vision for the organization. It may force the organization to consider such questions as: Who can we become? Who relies on us now?
I had the chance to read Please Forward: How Blogging Reconnected New Orleans After Katrina by Cynthia Joyce while I was in New Orleans. I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in this crisis. It uses the digital diaries of those most affected by the storm that were written between August 2005 and August 2007. Please Forward is a raw, frank accounting of this immense tragedy and the heartbreak it inflicted on the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of people for years in its aftermath. As I read it on this tenth anniversary it seemed that two things were very clear: first, New Orleans has returned. It is a vibrant, young, festive city, but it still suffers from enormous challenges from poverty and racial inequality with many neighborhoods still showing the ravages brought about by Katrina. Second, one has to admire the resilience and strength of the human spirit that in the face of this crisis people came together to meet the challenge. One only hopes that spirit will persist, leaders will learn from this catastrophe, and when I return to New Orleans in 2025 I will find “the Big Easy” has made even greater strides than can be imagined today.


Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.

Leadership Lessons of “Triage”

September marked the 150th anniversary of what is arguably the most decisive battle during the American Civil War – Antietam.  Many historians might contest this point and suggest that Gettysburg was the “high watermark of the Confederacy”.  Still a Union defeat at Antietam would have further delayed Lincoln’s decision to announce the Emancipation Proclamation which redefined the purpose of the war.  It could have also encouraged Britain and France to recognize the Confederacy as an independent nation that could have led to their intervention.  Finally, another Federal defeat in September 1862 would have further inspired those in the North who opposed the war to greater success in that fall’s congressional and state elections.  Sadly, Antietam holds an even greater distinction in American history.  It was the bloodiest single day in the American Civil War.  Over 25,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed or wounded in one day of fighting.

But historically wars also have encouraged innovation and the need for leaders to deal with new and frequently enormous problems.  The mass casualties suffered by both sides resulted in rapid advances not only in medicine but also the management and treatment of these huge numbers.  For example, it was during the Battle of Antietam that a young woman from Washington, Clara Barton, would appear with a wagon of supplies to treat the wounded.  Her efforts during the remainder of the war would eventually result in the creation of the American Red Cross.

It was also at about this time that a young Union Army Captain, Jonathan Letterman, would begin to ponder how to deal with this “wicked problem”.  Letterman would convince the Union Army leadership to assign a doctor to each regiment, organize medical teams that were the advent of today’s medics, and invent the field ambulance.   He also formulated a new method for dealing with mass casualties known as “triage” that General Omar Bradley, the famous World War II commander, would later describe as the greatest innovation in military medicine.

Letterman argued that military doctors and aid workers must be trained to quickly assess the extent of a soldier’s injuries and “triage” or classify the wounded into three groups.  First, were those so badly wounded that they were deemed terminal with no hope of recovery.  These were managed by chaplains and nurses who could make them as comfortable as possible.  Second, were wounded whose treatment could be delayed.  They might require some immediate treatment to stem the bleeding, but this could be handled by nurses or medical orderlies.  Third, the soldiers with injuries that if they were immediately addressed had a good chance of survival.  They were moved quickly surgery and the immediate attention of the available doctors.

“Triage” saved countless lives during the Civil War and in conflicts ever since.  But it is also a concept that leaders can apply as they deal with a mounting number of problems that clog their inbox on a daily basis.  Leaders must quickly scan their email or office inbox and ask themselves the following questions:

  • First:  Which problems are terminal or have been overcome by events?  There still may be issues of so-called “consequence management”, that may need to be confronted, but these can often be handled by others in the organization.
  • Second:  Which problems can be delayed or deferred?  We sometimes need to consider whether a problem is “ripe”?  Is it time to deal with it or should we let it evolve?  Can others in the organization deal with this problem which will both free up critical time for senior leaders (like the few doctors at Antietam) and allow subordinates an opportunity to both better develop their potential and confidence?
  • Third:  Is this an issue that demands the immediate attention of senior leaders?   Does this problem directly affect the essence of our organization, or is this an opportunity that the organization cannot fail to miss?

Making this calculation is invaluable to leaders.  It further forces them to understand that some problems are “wicked problems” like mass casualties during the American Civil War.  These are those challenges that are probably never “solved” but are “managed”.  For example, our national leaders will likely never solve the threat posed by AIDS, poverty, world hunger, etc.  But the importance of these problems demands every effort to “manage” them as effectively as possible and move us in the direction of a long term solution.  Every organization has such problems that will unlikely be “solved” at least during the term of the current leadership, but they must be “managed”.  Failing to do so can have dramatic consequences just as it did on the.

Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.

4 Styles of Leadership for Greatest Impact

Several months ago, over a really great steak dinner, I got into a conversation about a local company that had recently replaced its long-time, universally admired CEO with a “turn-around” specialist whose mandate was to prepare the organization for a rapidly changing and uncertain future. Almost immediately he had established new work rules and procedures that left many employees both confused and concerned that they would be fired for violating policies that they really weren’t clear on. Essentially the new CEO had decided that the best way to increase performance was to have the employees constantly in fear of losing their jobs. As the dinner conversation progressed one of the other participants made the comment that while he didn’t necessarily agree with this top-down, authoritarian approach he did think it was a “very effective leadership style.” My response was that it could be a very effective, short-term “management style” but because of the lasting effects it was having employee morale it wasn’t a very good “leadership style.”

For those of us in leadership development, probably the most frequently asked question is “what is the difference between leadership and management?” For me the answer is pretty simple; management gets you through the day, leadership gets you to tomorrow. Where the confusion usually starts is that while short-term results must be a concern of every leader, if how you achieve those results negatively affects the long-term performance of the organization, and the people who report to you, then you’ve failed in your responsibilities as a leader. (Very important note: your best employees almost always have other options.) Your leadership style will ultimately determine the lasting success of your organization and the people who depend on you.

Before we start to look at the different leadership styles you need to keep a few things in mind. First, you already have a natural leadership style, the roots of which were largely beyond your control. It’s based upon your personality and emotional intelligence, your background and role models, past experience as to what worked and what didn’t, and where you are in your career and life. Secondly, there is no one style that is perfect for every situation you will encounter. Some will call for your using an “inspirational” style; others will require that you use an “authoritarian” style. While you do have your natural style that you will feel most comfortable with, you are capable of using many of the other styles. What you need to constantly keep in mind is that there are both benefits and consequences to every style. Finally, never underestimate the ability of the people you lead to detect when you are trying to be someone you are not. While you may need to adapt your leadership style to the situation, you have to make sure that you are authentic in both your words and actions.

The Four Styles

There are at least 10 generally recognized and accepted leadership styles, covering everything from “Transactional” to “Servant”. I want to focus on the four that have the potential for the greatest impact, both positively and negatively.

Autocratic – The autocratic leader has complete, or near complete power, and isn’t afraid to use it. This is the “because I said so” style of leadership. The advantages to the autocratic style are speed and efficiency. The disadvantages are the tendency to create an atmosphere of fear and passivity – autocratic leaders create compliance, they don’t develop commitment. The autocratic style is a staple of TV sitcoms and cartoons but has limited use in a world where empowerment and buy-in are crucial for success. (This style also requires more of the leader’s time and energy to be focused on day-to-day operations.) Because of the potential negative effects, the use of the autocratic style should be limited to emergencies, issues of safety, and occasionally situations where time is critical.

Bureaucratic – Leadership by the book – or policy manual. This style is the backbone of organizations where consistency is a priority and/or the time it takes to make individualized decisions is not an option. The bureaucratic style is ideal for keeping large organizations functioning but runs the risk of stifling creativity and leaving followers feeling like a number. It can also provide leaders with a convenient shield from having to make tough decisions. Every organization needs established policies and procedures. This is especially true for large and geographically spread out organizations. The question that leaders need to ask themselves is “is our bureaucracy keeping us running smoothly or keeping us from reaching our potential?”

Relationship Oriented – This style focuses on the long-term development of the organization and the individuals involved. Team building and personal development are as important as results and you are willing to let your people take risks and make mistakes (within reason.) Relationship Oriented leadership is based firmly in the belief that leadership isn’t about the leader but about providing everyone in the organization the opportunity to shine. Relationship Oriented leaders understand their followers’ strengths, goals, and challenges and use that knowledge to create the strongest team. This takes extra effort and isn’t always the fastest approach to getting things done, but ultimately it should create an organization where the leader has confidence in his follower’s ability to perform.

Transformational – Transformational leaders focus on the future, developing a vision and then making it a reality. They don’t just create the “organization of tomorrow”, they help create the organization of the next 20, 50 or 100 years. Transformational leaders not only look at what their organization is doing now, they are constantly looking at what could be, and should be doing. Transformational leaders have to understand their industry and business but they also have to keep up on trends and practices in other industries as well as cultural, demographic, and technological changes that may affect them. This style often requires a support team to help monitor day-to-day operations.

So what do you do now? I’ve put you in a seemingly impossible position by telling you that some leadership styles are better than others but that you already have a developed style and that you run the risk of creating problems if you come across as inauthentic. As with most leadership competencies the most important thing is that you are aware of your style(s) and how it is impacting your organization. If you are experiencing high employee or volunteer turnover you may need to look at whether or not you are too autocratic. If you constantly seem to be behind others in your industry are you too bureaucratic? If you are in a middle management position and responsible for making sure deadlines are met you may need to mix in the autocratic style more frequently, at least until the effects of your transformational style initiatives kick in.

Think of the styles as not only the base of your leadership ability but also a set of tools that you can use to increase your leadership effectiveness – and make sure that you’re never the topic of a negative dinner conversation.

John Rinehart has been involved in leadership development for over 15 years.  He is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University RULE Rural Leadership Program, and served as Vice President of the program’s Advisory Board. John has also worked with organizations across Pennsylvania on visioning, strategic planning, and organizational development and was recently published in “In the Company of Leaders: 40 Top leadership experts provide proven guidance for your leadership journey.”