Byron's Babbles

Setting Your Leadership Style

IMG_2258Last evening we did a really cool project during our 3D Leadership Development Program. First of all, the participants were tasked with bringing 10 pictures of leaders that had influenced the participants in a positive way. I must say that all participants put a great deal of thought and reflection into this and all brought their 10 pictures to our gathering. To begin with I had the participants quickly pick four of the leaders and make/draw/create their own person Mount Rushmore with the four most influential leader examples in their lives. These turned out really cool and I have included some pictures of the personal Mount Rushmores that were created, here:

IMG_2254IMG_2255In the discussion afterward, the participants explained how tough it was for them to just pick the four influencers for the original Mount Rushmore. Creating that frustration of only picking four was by design. It is very tough to only pick four for a Mount Rushmore. At the same time we need to realize that our influencers come and go. Also, our influencers have different levels of influence at different times. In other words, as we take our journey of leadership, our role model can, or maybe need to, change. This is why I love reading about a diverse group of leaders. For example, right now I am reading about President James K. Polk. I don’t think he would make my current Mount Rushmore, but I am certainly learning things from his leadership style I can use. Some of them are things I have learned to not do, or stop doing. This is certainly important to our development. The bottom-line is that our personal Mount Rushmore should be continually changing. More importantly, we should constantly be studying and looking for new candidates for our own version of Mount Rushmore.

IMG_1857I have to admit, the idea for for this activity came from my own desire to have a drawing made of what would be my personal Mount Rushmore. Originally, I thought I would have the Wright Brothers, Gene Simmons (KISS), Patrick Henry, and Thomas Edison. But, then I started wanting President Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney, President Harry Truman, et cetera. Honestly, I couldn’t decide so it never got done. In fact the person I wanted to do the drawing told me that it can’t be fixed, it needs to be fluid. In fact he suggested it should be a Mount Rushmore frame with no pictures and then I should have a bunch of magnet pictures to move in and out. Additionally, as new influencers come on, they can be added.

I’ve got to tell you, it really impacted me to see my picture on one of our participant’s Mount Rushmore. Others in the cohort were also on others’ Mount Rushmore’s or leadership mosaics (described next). This really caused me to think about and ask the question of “Am I worthy of this?” Particularly, when I was right next to Jesus on Mount Rushmore. See picture here:

IMG_2253After that activity and share out, I had participants go back and create a leadership mosaic using all 10 pictures/leaders. Here is what I asked them to do:

•Place a tear sheet on the wall
•Now create a collage with all 10 pictures
•Be creative so that the 10 individuals you selected are incorporated in a way that tells a story.
•Now gallery walk
•Place at least one comment on each
•Popcorn out things that jumped out at you

I have to tell you, this was impactful. There were individuals who teared up while looking at the 37+ mosaics that were created. It was amazing. Here are a few examples:

IMG_2256IMG_2257We then had a very impactful discussion about leadership style and influence. Then one of our always thoughtful and very engaged participants, Christopher Scholl, from Langtree Charter Academy Upper school spoke up and said, “What really struck me was how different everyone’s mosaics are, but everyone completed the assignment correctly, did everything we were supposed to, and all were very impactful.” We then had a discussion about this. Chris went on to say, “As leaders we need to lead more like the way you set up this activity. We need to lay out the vision, but how our teams and those we lead get there or what the final product looks like really does not matter and needs to be theirs to own.” Wow, this was an awesome discussion that came out of this. It really is intent-based leadership being described at its best. David Marquet would sure be proud. Get all the team developed in the technical skills necessary (otherwise it is chaos) and then let them do their jobs and tell you, the leader, what they intend to do. This will truly drive innovation and creativity. And…HELLO…it means the decisions will be made right where the data is being created.

It was also discussed how we must also create space like this for our students to be able to have the autonomy to create and not have to always turn in assignments where every child’s work looks exactly the same. This is why I am such a big believer that we should be looking at student outcomes and transferable skills. In fact, we should be changing our whole school accountability models to look at outcomes instead of outputs or the inputs.

The whole point of the personal Mount Rushmore and leadership mosaic activities was for participants to take a deep personal and reflective look at their personal leadership style. Keep in mind that leadership style is different than leadership skills, theory, and tactics. To me, leadership style focuses specifically on the traits, behaviors, and personalities of leaders. In my opinion, no one should ever let anyone determine their leadership style for them. Leadership styles can be broken down in several different ways depending on what information is being looked at. There are many ways to define styles, such as: being charismatic, participative, situational, transactional, transformational, adaptive, disruptive, loud/boisterous (like me), quiet or servant-like. One more way to differentiate leadership styles is according to whether leaders are task-oriented or people-oriented. Task-oriented leaders are said to have a considerate style and people-oriented leaders an initiating-structure style.

So why was it important for us to take a deep look at our own personal leadership style and recognize those we learned those skills from. Since organizations are always striving to find great leaders that can lead them to success, much effort has been put forth into finding out how they operate. More specifically, organizations are trying to identify the characteristics and behaviors associated with the best leaders. As a result, many leadership theories have been developed over the years that attempt to explain what makes a leader great. Organizations figure if they can identify the traits that make a successful leader, they cannot only identify potential leaders more readily, but also can hone in on those specific skills for improvement. While I agree with all of what I am saying here, I also want to make sure we do not lose sight of the fact that leadership style should be an individual thing. I certainly would not want a world where all the leaders looked and acted exactly the same. I do have some leaders, however, I would love to know who the world is on their Mount Rushmore and who they are using as a role model. Ill bet you have some you are wondering about too.

I challenge those reading this post to reflect on who is on your Mount Rushmore or your leadership mosaic. Most importantly, I encourage you to reflect on whether you are worthy of being on someone else’s Mount Rushmore or leadership mosaic. Thinking about being on someone else’s Mount Rushmore is not egotistical or vain; It is, again, about reflecting on our worthiness of being a role-model of leadership influence. I would love to have some replies of who you would put on your personal Mount Rushmore and why.

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