I’ve been noodling on a many dozen things, but one that is resonating currently with me is leadership styles. there are dozens of books on this topic and so I have decided to ignore them momentarily to give you a simple framework based on two dimensions: participation directing and focus on power others.
To help us visualize this, here is the two dimensions shown on a graph:
Each dimension is a spectrum; these aren’t discrete spaces and people may move on these dimensions based on comfort level, experiences, and a whole host of other factors. If I considered only the X-axis, the right side would those that want to be servant-leaders and the left side would be controlling leaders. These have behaviors; the Y-axis adds in other behaviors. For clarity, let me repeat something that Robert Greenleaf said in his book “The Servant as Leader”;
The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.
With this is mind, and adding in the degree of participation to directing, which are another form of style, we can see that a mix of behaviors begin appearing in how I execute being a leader. Greenleaf’s book focuses on motives IMHO, but the manifestation/execution also matters a lot. While a Utopian Benevolent Dictatorial Leader wants to help people, how they do it is entirely different. They are going to direct what they think is best and not seek input from others. This may reduce their effectiveness overtime as people gain more awareness in the fact they don’t have say; this is regardless of the leader’s intentions.
I want to emphasize that a Facilitative Leader is one that has the Facilitation Kernel at their core – they are not only serving others, but doing so entirely on behalf of the group with their participation. They treat those they lead as peers. Facilitative leaders lead through sheer will and thus are clear in ensuring their actions and statements match. When they don’t, then most likely they lose power as it is all based on influence.
What’s nice is there exists more room for Facilitative Leaders within an organization than there can be for the other three styles.
I have some more thoughts on what Facilitative Leaders do, but I’ll save that for another post.