In part two of this series, I focused on one of the more complex leadership traits – relentless decision- making. This trait requires an in depth understanding of what decisions must be made, where they must be made and the quality of the actual decision. The other leadership trait from part two of this series – authentic truth-telling – is one that I believe cannot be taught. While authentic truth-telling can be developed as a skill, the inherent nature of the leader will ultimately reveal her ability (or lack thereof) to excel in this area.
So, here’s the review of ‘Jo’s Radical Leadership Trait Theory’:
And, now for the final two traits:
Transformational Leadership – what exactly is it?
It’s a well-worn label describing one of the most vaunted forms of leadership. The focus for transformational leaders is on their followers. This type of leadership manifests itself in a consistent desire to push one’s team to higher heights, while building the courage, confidence and even competence of each member in the process.
This type of leadership requires authenticity as well. But, more than being authentic, the transformational leader must be credible. They must be able and willing to lead by example. We may know some of these leaders who don't hesitate to roll their sleeves up to tackle the operational aspects of an initiative, even as they remain firmly planted in the strategic elements. They walk the talk and their followers know this. They have the ‘street cred’ that so often eludes other leaders who are far better at barking orders and directives than they are at understanding what it takes to get them done at the ground toop level.
The transformational leaders that I’ve worked with across my career have always spoken to the most innovative parts of me. They are true possibility thinkers, never comfortable with the status quo and, more often, impatient with it. They inspire their followers to live with an outside-the-box perspective. It is that behavior that compels action which dares people to try something that has never been tried, or to revisit something through a new approach that may have previously been tried unsuccessfully (read this August 27, 2015 Forbes article by Alexia Vernon, for three habits of transformational leaders from that author’s perspective).
Balancing the X and Y Chromosomes
I’ve saved the most controversial of my radical leadership trait theory, for last.
While there are endless articles espousing viewpoints on the need to erase distinctions between female and male behaviors in the name of leveling the playing field – I take a different position.
As a woman, I have two X chromosomes, and that’s just how it is….I’m a ‘double X-er’ and proud of it! But, I also firmly believe that I have a lot to learn from ‘Y-ers’ (my male counterparts). And, the reverse is also true. There’s learning to be gleaned on both sides.
For example, as a woman, I need to reduce the word ‘sorry’ from my vocabulary by about 40%. It’s been proven that woman simply apologize far too much…..for everything. I did a piece on this for LinkedIn that you can read here.
Further, decisiveness - a key leadership skill - requires a healthy balance of emotion and logic. As leaders, this means that we can neither rush to make decisions with a full head of steam ignoring important nuances, nor can we opine endlessly for fear of creating conflict or hurt feelings. I think most of us would say which of those traps double X-ers and Y-ers may tend to fall into while executing decisions – if we’re honest.
While we certainly can’t make sweeping generalizations about male and female leadership, I believe it behooves us to understand the natural differences, learn from them and work to refine those that make us less effective. This requires some self-awareness, openness to feedback and a willingness to climb to new leadership levels. In short, it ultimately requires a strong balance of the X and Y chromosomes. Read here for a fun piece that I did on this particular subject.
I’m generally a glass-half-full type of person, but I’m afraid that these six Radical Leadership Traits are rarely demonstrated, in my experience.
As leaders scramble to keep up with the next new change model promising to help them turn the business around or advance it, too many are still missing the secret sauce of leadership largely found in these traits.
The good news is that I’ve learned as much – if not more – from those without these traits as I have from those with them, and thus, I remain undaunted in my own quest for radical leadership. I hope the same is true for you.