I don’t know about you, but when I look around my team I see a wide variety of individuals, each with different strengths.
Every individual has the capacity to lead, and at various moments, we all do. Psychological theory breaks down aspects of personality in one of two ways:
- ‘type’ is considered an unchangeable dimension of personality with varying strength
- ‘trait’ is a set of behaviours on a spectrum
There is no leadership type. Context, team composition, history and relationship strength all influence who is able to lead. A drawback with ‘type’ approaches to personality are the identity labels. Even the MBTI that proudly labels me as an extrovert acknowledges that I get a score on the introvert spectrum too. We all have the ability to lead. To what extent then does making ‘leader’ an identity label help?
Imagine a team of 10 people with a random composition of corporate people. It’s likely that one or two characters have the natural disposition to take charge of the group. But what happens if we remove those people?
Time and again in my experience of the situation above (we use it on leadership trainings), the group function improves as a result of removing the so-called leaders. Something in the dominant behaviour of these individuals diminishes other people’s powers. So often the group function diminishes when someone takes the lead.
So, what’s going on? The unintended consequence of some leadership behaviour is that it blocks leading from others. It takes a great deal of self-awareness and attention to lead in a way that increases leading in others. So how do we do it? Here are some tips: