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Great Leaders Embrace Multiple Styles

We have all heard the saying don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It represents a sound piece of advice for any leader, especially in the field of education.  The reason being is that a person in a position of power or influence should not concentrate all efforts in one area since initiating and sustaining change requires a dynamic mashup of strategies. The bottom line here is that if all of your resources and energy focus on just one thing, the chances of empowering the masses to embrace new ways of thinking or initiatives will be severely hampered.

As styles go, they are numerous, and in many cases, we, or others, often place us in one or another. This can be both good or bad, depending on perspective. Different people respond to different styles. What works for one might not for another and vice versa. Hence the imperative not to conform to one specific style. This is not to say that a leader can’t or shouldn’t excel in a particular style. However, a convergence of styles separates generalists from specialists when it comes to leadership. In terms of the successful implementation of innovative ideas, those who embrace a more general mindset get better results. Consider this perspective from Ideas for Leaders:
The core reason that generalists inspire and create greater innovation is their courage to make mistakes; this courage, in turn, is explained by the knowledge that they have skills that can be applied elsewhere. This is a major advantage for generalists. Innovation is risky. An additional factor contributing to the innovation success of generalists is that they have a perspective that allows them to look beyond assumptions and ‘think outside the box.’ As a result, the innovation they push is original and impactful.



Below are some common styles prevalent in leadership today.

Managerial

Whether we like it or not, management plays a pivotal role in leadership. Mark Miller provides this insight:
Great leaders ultimately must rely on a holistic approach to leadership—they must be both a visionary and a manager. They must know the strategy and the big-picture and know how to put it to work and ensure it gets done. They must inspire and connect to people individually. Great leaders are managers because they understand the specific ways that work needs to get done to be efficient and effective. Great managers are leaders because they take the tasks that need to get done and know how their talents fit and, more importantly, how to bring out the talents of others to gain even greater results.
Managing might not be flashy, but it certainly helps achieve results. Important aspects include establishing rules, meeting goals, having efficient operations, improving performance, setting priorities, and executing the strategic plan.  The truth is the best leaders and managers are interchangeable. Too often, however, people are one or the other. These leaders will miss vital tasks that ultimately drive team success.

Instructional

Successful schools and districts have leaders who prioritize instructional strategies that lead to improved learning outcomes. They possess keen insight and knowledge on both traditional and innovative pedagogical techniques that empower learners to think critically, construct new knowledge, and apply what has been learned in a variety of ways.  Instructional leaders roll up their sleeves and make the time to get into the trenches. Getting in classrooms and providing timely feedback to teachers is prioritized. Additionally, they engage in ongoing learning conversations with fellow administrators while seeking out the best professional development opportunities for staff.

Inspirational

Virtually everyone either wants or likes to work with a leader who inspires. These people not only help to establish a shared vision and plan for action but more importantly, they create an environment that motivates and empowers people to be their best.  Inspiring leaders take this a step further by demonstrating passion and commitment to the implementation of all aspects of the vision and resulting strategic plan for improvement. He or she talks the talk, walks the walk, and motivates everyone else to do the same. Eric Garton provides this take:
Inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control. Leaders who both inspire people and generate results find ways to constructively disrupt established behaviors to help employees break out of culture-weakening routines.
In the end, it is actions that ultimately inspire, not pie in the sky, and fluffy talk.

Transformational

Transformational leadership is based on a theory where a leader works with teams of educators to identify needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through innovative ideas, and executing the change in tandem with committed members of a school, district, or organization. It is a collaborative responsibility for taking action to reach future-oriented goals while meeting the intellectual, emotional, and physical needs of each student. Transformational leaders consistently make observations, listen intently, leverage a growth mindset, and, most importantly, take action to improve the organization.


Great leaders don’t pigeonhole themselves into one specific style. They openly embrace the benefits and rewards of being a generalist through convergence. In the end, leadership is not about telling people what to do but instead taking them where they need to be. It is challenging to accomplish this goal if all of the eggs are placed in the same basket.


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