Charisma and Persuasive versus directive leadership style…

Let’s look at the Oxford Dictionary definition for Charisma: Compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in other.
Now one may argue that most great leaders have ‘Charisma.’

Given the context of the current thread – Persuasive versus Directive approach on the part of the leader, it would appear from the definition that leaders with charisma may prefer to utilize a more persuasive approach…but then you run up against examples like Adolph Hitler who was  clearly directive to say the least…but can anyone doubt his obvious charisma?

So how then do we resolve this?
The only way in my opinion would be to separate charisma from other great leadership qualities.
I am particularly drawn to the Transformational leadership traits:
a. Being a positive role model
b. To Inspire and motivate followers to operate at high levels of efficiencies
c. Intellectual Stimulation – challenging followers to be creative and
d. Individualized Consideration – being responsive to the feelings and developmental needs of followers.

Once you look at the Transformational Leadership traits listed above you begin to get a sense of similar qualities that may exist in leaders whom we already know possess Charisma. Perhaps the only missing ingredient would be that all charismatic leaders are necessarily excellent communicators and orators, who are able to connect not just at the verbal level but at the deeper, emotional level as well.

Charisma is a function of the leaders’ uniquely attractive qualities that endear him/her to their followers, combined with their needs and identification with the leader as well as the situation they are all in, that calls for a charismatic leader.

 

Leadership style…persuasion versus direction

I will try to add some more confusion to this very interesting thread…First of all regardless of whether you utilize Persuasion or Direction as your preferred style – Leadership must always respect the Law…and his/her people (or followership).

Too, there is sometimes a negative connotation for the word ‘Persuasion,’ I am intrigued to understand why?

Anything that is expressed/deployed as a function of style needs to be analyzed in the context of the following two questions:
Is it sincere?
Is the intent honest?

Let me present a context for considering  ‘Persuasion’ to carry a negative connotation:
You are attempting to ‘persuade’ an employee to follow a specific course of action, as opposed to what the employee was considering.
The Employee wants to explore another option within the Organization in terms of job role, but you feel (without letting the employee know) that the loss to your team would be significant and the skill, difficult to replace.
So you try to persuade the employee to stay with his/her current role because you anticipate potential growth in the short term (this is not based on fact but just a carrot you are dangling out).
Whereas if he/she considers moving into a brand new role, growth will take far longer to achieve.

The points to note are that your persuasive argument is insincere and not founded on fact.
In addition your intention is dishonest (Both ingredients that must be in place for a persuasive style to be perceived to be positive).

In most, if not all instances, we must lead with a persuasive style and only follow up with  directive style, if persuasion fails. My example above would clearly not work if you tried to direct your employee to follow your recommendation, and revert to a persuasive style, when that failed?

Your first 100 days in the leadership seat…

I believe there is a meta-decision before the decision you took to join the new Organization. Are you moving from an Organization that has constantly kept you stretched intellectually, spiritually, physically and mentally…or are you jumping on board to be the big fish in a small pond.

That is the ‘to be or not to be’ decision you need to wrangle with.
I recommend choosing in favour of joining an Organization where you are likely to be the ‘worst’ player – that is the only way to ensure that you are in a constant growth and self – value building trajectory.

Do not allow any ‘Holy cows’ to shape the way you feel and behave toward the new organization’s culture. Be willing to slaughter the holy cows.

Don’t be afraid to come with the answer. If you come in without a clearly defined vision that you are willing to evangelize…you may be perceived as a prophet promising to lead them to the promised land…without a map.

Is leadership a choice?

Saying leadership is a Choice to me sounds rather like saying Courage is a choice. I cannot separate the two qualities regardless which way I look at it. if I am able to make the choice to be a leader, it stands to reason that I am also able to make a choice to be courageous.
Now that seems to be quite a leap for me.
The thing to remember about leadership is that it cannot survive without ‘Follower-ship.’ Let’s imagine there is a fire alarm in your office building and that quiet, reserved individual suddenly becomes galvanized into action and proceeds to lead a dangerous path onto the building roof. Now, faced with the certainly burning to death, or leaping off the roof to the pavement 4 floors below, the quiet individual asks everyone to follow him…and leaps!

Would you?

You see a leader would be able to make that leap and get me to follow him/her!

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Leadership is a behaviour…and we l know that any behaviour can be learned – or indeed imbibed through force of habit or consistent use.
Behaviours are constantly under the gun to be changed, altered, improved, re-set or plain, outright ordered into conformity – consider the impact a stop sign has on us while driving.
In that context, Leadership can be a learned behaviour – but that still is a far cry from it being a simple choice that allows anyone  to take the leadership mantle.
Why?
Because woven into this complex mesh of behaviours, skills, knowledge and experience is an interesting  little thing called Charisma. This quality is not something that can be taught…neither can it be learned…either you have it or you don’t.
Sure anyone can make it a choice to lead…the question do we feel motivated enough to follow…

Groupthink…

Groupthink is an irrational desire for members in a group to seek conformity and cohesiveness with each other, to the degree of suppressing any dissenting views or opinions from other members. This desire for group cohesiveness  causes decisions to be ratified without any critical analysis/debate, so key to ensure decisions are critiqued and debated before they are approved.
I disagree with some who would suggest that Groupthink is caused by bad leadership? Groupthink is the result of a group of people who yearn to conform with the larger group’s thinking, even if it is detrimental to the group at large.

Read Irving Janis’s ‘Victims of Group Think.’

Here is a pithy quote from Janis that I rather like: “The more amiability and esprit de corps there is among the members of a policy-making in-group, the greater the danger that independent critical thinking will be replaced by Groupthink, which is likely to result in irrational and dehumanizing actions directed against out-groups.”

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In discussing Groupthink, some like to point towards a leader who is happy with all around agreement to his/her decisions, and generally accepting of silence as consensus. In actuality Groupthink is not about an individual exercising his/her will over the team, but more a team so cohesive and conformity driven that they view any form of dissent as dangerous to the team’s general ‘joie de vi·vre.’ A danger that is rapidly snuffed out – which means the team acts against the individual dissenters and closes ranks to effectively shut them out. The opposite of group think is more difficult to obtain – the willingness on the part of individuals to hold their ground and uphold their values, beliefs and critical opinions, regardless of the rest of the groups thinking. But such a stand is taken not just against the leader – but indeed against all of the team, to defend one’s opinion. Like the individual Juror’s dissent that can often cause a ‘Hung Jury.’

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The most damaging outcome of groupthink is often the waste of time and resources that go into a team going into a retreat/closed-door meeting to thrash out some jugular corporate issues, only to come away with a sub-standard quality output as a result of groupthink.
If the team is so fortunate, they can rally their forces and rework the outcome, with a better result, if they recognize that their initial outcomes came out of groupthink’ing. The damage could be vastly more far-reaching if they remain ignorant of the groupthink driven outcomes and go ahead with their actions and decisions based on it.

Are Leadership behaviours and actions contagous to Employees?

Leadership has been around ever since the first Neanderthal looked at his mates and grunted ‘follow me’ as he stalked a wooly pachyderm down a gully.
The thing is that my illustrious leader would be as willing to kill the pachyderm as he would be to slaughter the first of his brethren, should the pachyderm prove too difficult to put down.
Hunger does not differentiate when the choices are to eat what is on hand or starve until the next chance happening upon a prey that can be taken.

My Point is we cannot guarantee that great leadership will always come with the requisite morality quotient. Consider Hitler, or King Leopold, or General Reginald Dyer…all great leaders with little care for doing what was morally correct.
Ergo…the argument cuts both ways. As employees, can we afford to stay silent and do what the leader does – even if we know it is a potentially criminal action?

The answer is no. Which leaves me to believe that sometimes employees need to behave in a manner that becomes contagious to Leadership.

Micromanagement…

A Micromanagement style, as stated in my earlier comments, is sometimes a necessary evil predicated upon the maturity level of the team. However it is the Leadership who is ultimately accountable/responsible to set the tone for  the management style that is acceptable, and that which is not. You cannot root out ‘micromanagers’ like some sort of witch hunt within the organization. Such a style needs to be ‘designed’ out of the organization’s systems and processes. In fact a ‘delegating/stewardship’ style of management should be recognized and rewarded and micromanagement styles should be challenged and discouraged.

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Micromanagement is a fact. It is sometimes the only style a manager or leader has in his/her tool box. Sure you can tell your manager/leader that you dislike being micromanaged. That you find the environment too toxic because of micromanagement. That you cannot perform at your best when you are being micromanaged.
Let me know how that turns out for you….

Or you can focus on doing what is within your control, and do those things to the highest degree of perfection and quality that you possibly can. Focus on this inner zone of driving and addressing tasks and activities that are within your control and not being impacted or influenced by your manager/leader’s micromanagement – as difficult as that may seem. You will be amazed at how much better you are able to deal with a ‘Micromanagement’ leadership style as a result.

Best of luck!

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Leadership style is a function of the situation,  as very aptly explained in Hersey and Blanchard’s famous model on Situational Leadership. One’s leadership style fluctuates between highly directive and highly supportive when:
A.  dealing with teams who are low on competency and low on commitment) and less directive and less supportive when:
B. dealing with teams who are high on competence and high on commitment.

Leaders tend to micromanagement when dealing with teams like ‘A’ above.
Ideally, as teams mature and become more competent and committed, leaders tend to use less of directive and supportive behaviours (less micromanagement). If teams have matured and are fully reliable and capable, yet the leader continues to micromanage, you have a problem.

On taking the plunge to join a new organization…

On taking the plunge to join a new organization…
I believe there is a meta-decision before any leap of faith into a new Organization. Are you moving from an Organization that has constantly kept you stretched intellectually, spiritually, physically and mentally…or are you jumping on board to be the big fish in a small pond. That is the meta-decision you have to wrangle with. Always choose in favour of joining an Organization where you are likely to be the ‘worst’ or ‘weakest’ player – that is the only way to ensure that you are in a constant growth and self – value building trajectory.
Don’t allow any ‘Holy cows’ cause you to spend too much time agonizing over the current culture. Be willing to slaughter them.
Don’t be afraid to come with the answer. If you come in without a clearly defined vision that you are willing to evangelize, you may be perceived as a prophet promising to lead them to the Promised Land…sans a map!

When does it make sense to include Intuition in your Decision Making Process…

Let me reach out to the other side…where perhaps Intuition may be considered a fundamental prerequisite for survival in this new age of Social, Cloud and Big Data.
Our Information systems of yore were all designed to deal with structured data or information, where the data for throughput was nicely categorized, with neatly aligned definitions and descriptions, with ‘go / no-go’ gates to drive mathematical processing, algorithms and decision trees.
When you think about it, we come from a generation that had to study and learn how to go about using a computer. Some of us had to study computer languages just to execute our daily roles in the I/T business.
Fortunately the Software and applications that spun off matured to the degree that one could simply sit before a console and ‘INTUITEVLY’ operate the system to produce spreadsheets, word documents, presentation graphics and such like.
Contrast that scenario with today’s explosion in Social , Cloud and Big Data and Analytics.
Our pre-teen kids log on and off using their computers, tablets or Smart phones with an alacrity that leaves us dumbfound.
The workforce (both blue and white collar)are expected to be proficient with basic computing skills, regardless of their roles – and they do for the most part.
Technology has kept abreast of the changing needs and wants of the populace in a seamless manner such that we did not see/notice any perceptible shift in the way we migrated from the need to understand basic computer language before we could use a system, to where we have arrived today.

The underlining thread that runs through the entire commentary above is that the way programmers and S/W developers ran with the technology shift, was to inject a sense of ‘Intuitiveness’ into the programs and codes they developed. What I mean is that the basic functionality of the computers when hooked up in conjunction with the Program and S/W, allowed the user to INTUITIVELY know how to manipulate say…a mouse, or through use of simple icons, know where to send something to trash, or save something, or print something.
Today’s computer users are mostly self-taught (it takes literally minutes for one to get up and running with a basic computer these days).
Social media means that the information that people process and transmit with each other has grown exponentially. Machine to machine interactions are also growing exponentially…all of which means we have reached that crossroads in our I/T evolution where whatever it was that got us here…is not good enough to keep us here…leave alone facilitate our onward/upward progress?
Big Data and Analytics has arrived to stay…and because of Social, Machine to Machine and Cloud based growth, computing can no longer be an ‘mathematical’ processing of 0’s and 1’s, but instead needs to evolve into something that is ‘Cognitive’ much like IBM’s ‘Watson.’
Cognitive computing (like IBM’s Watson) is the next level of big data processing, using code that is truly Cognitive and can “Observe, Interpret, Evaluate and Decide” when assigned ‘Unstructured’ Data for processing.

In the final analysis I am sure we will see H/W Engineering, Programming and S/W Code to seamlessly fuse Intuitive and data driven language that is able to breakdown the vast, unstructured data we are forced to deal with in today’s ‘Big Data’ environment.
We can no longer rule out completely, the benefits and criticality of utilizing ‘INTUITION’ in our Decision Making processes!

Does Intuition have a place in our Decision Making Process?

Intuition is what drives our decision making process in the absence of logic, reason and fact.
To suggest that there may be a safe zone where Intuitive decisions may be taken (unless the decisions are of little to no impact to all concerned) is almost like saying there is a time when we can base our decisions on ‘guesswork.’
I get that sometimes we do indeed take actions based on intuition alone however these are almost reflex actions that happen with little or no premeditation on our part.

a. You drive up to an intersection where you have right of way but something tells you to stop before crossing the intersection – you do, and you are glad you did, because a speeding car races across your path. You just know it would have hit you if you did not stop when you did.

b. You are interviewing candidates for an opening in your Organization and have shortlisted two candidates from the five you have interviewed as meeting/exceeding all your hiring requirements.
The 6th candidate walks in and introduces himself to you. You shake hands and barely ask a few questions when you are filled with a ‘feeling’ that this is the person you need to hire. You cannot explain this ‘feeling’ but it is strong enough for you to lean more favourably towards him, even though you have not quite tested him for compliance with your hiring specifications?
Both examples a. and b. above are what I would call true experiences of ‘Intuition.’

In example a. above you allowed your intuition to dictate/direct your decision (to stop).

In example b, I have left the outcome open as I believe we have all experienced something similar to what I have described, however I also believe that we would all react in different ways. Some of us may bite the bullet and hire the candidate based on our ‘hunch.’
Others may reflect over all the requirements, and intuition notwithstanding, hire one of the 2 short listed candidates who exceeded our requirements.

In example a. above there is no question that it is safe (even appropriate) to allow intuition to influence our decision to stop. It is utterly without any cost to self and in fact at worst case, would extend our journey by a few minutes.

This would be a ‘safe’ zone to practice intuition based decision making.

In example b. above, we would be remiss if we chose to make the hiring decision based on intuition alone. All things being equal, it would make sense to hire the candidate who made us ‘feel good’ for whatever mysterious, inexplicable reason, since we have also applied diligence in verifying that he too meets/exceeds all our interview requirements.

In my opinion, we can talk great lengths about the Brain Sciences, Biological breakthroughs, Right Brain/Left Brain thinking, Medicine and Philosophy…and after all the dust has settled…find ourselves just as clueless as we were when this thread first kicked off.

T.S. Eliot said it best:
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the