People always want to know what the most effective leadership style is. If you’re responsible for leadership development, you’ve probably heard or pondered the question. If you’re focused on growing your own skills and career, you’ve likely thought about whether your style fits the model of successful leadership.
Well, here’s the good news: you can stop worrying about that question. In fact, there is no “one size fits all” effective leadership style. Leadership is personal; it’s individual. The best leaders aren’t trying to be someone they’re not or to force-fit themselves into a prescribed mold. They understand their own style—who they are—and have learned how to leverage it.
So if there’s no one type of leader you have to be, what’s the key to being an effective leader?
Our colleague Michael Morgan, CEO of Herrmann International Asia, often points out that no matter what kind of business you’re in, being successful in business requires Whole Brain® Thinking. That same concept applies to leadership, too.
It doesn’t matter what your personal leadership style is, being a successful leader requires Whole Brain® Thinking. That means understanding both how you prefer to think and where your blind spots are so you can fully leverage your mental strengths and stretch outside them when necessary.
Here’s the even better news: applying Whole Brain® Thinking doesn’t require you to be someone you’re not. After all, you have access to your whole brain, not just the thinking styles you prefer the most. All modes of thinking are already there and available to you. Instead, this is about becoming highly skilled as a thinker, able to situationally access the different thinking required to handle a given challenge.
This is the essence of leadership agility, particularly in today’s knowledge intensive world where challenges are more complex and we need to get the full advantage of our own diversity of thought as well as the thinking diversity around us.
Developing Thought Leaders
Shifting thinking to match the needs of a situation is something anyone can learn how to do, and developing that skill ought to be a chief priority of every modern leadership development program.
So rather than concentrating on the most effective leadership styles, ground your leadership training and development efforts in practical ways to unleash thinking capability. Once you open leaders up to their full thinking potential and give them experience accessing and applying their own inherent thinking diversity, all of the modes of thinking will become more available to them on a daily basis.
The idea isn’t to change the unchangeable but to help leaders take advantage of the flexibility we all have to become situationally more effective across the range of key leadership issues—and it’s a big range: strategic thinking, critical thinking, mindful focus, collaboration, empathy, problem solving, intuitive thinking, conceptualizing, dealing with ambiguity, visualizing, creative processing and more.
Gives you a whole new perspective on the term “thought leadership,” doesn’t it?
For more tips on improving leadership skills and developing Whole Brain® leadership, tune in to episode 7 of the TalentGrow Show podcast, Think Like a CEO to Accelerate Performance and Results: Ann Herrmann-Nehdi's Mindhacks for Leaders.