Exceptional Leaders are Whole Brain Leaders
by Kristen Olynick
We are told we should lead by example. To not listen to what people say but to watch what they do. That is good advice, unless that example or action is inflexible, one-sided and intolerant. The 21st century leader will need to be a whole brain leader, a leader that understands the different brain preferences of his/her team and leads individuals in a way that would inspire them. An average leader leads people to themselves, whereas an exceptional leader leads the people to think more of themselves.
The starting point of this challenging (but exciting) journey is understanding your own leadership style and how this would have an impact on those you lead. Remember, your team members most probably do not all share your preferences. The successful leader is the individual who can lead and manage others according to their particular preferences at times. Talking the language of the listener is the ideal whole brain approach for all leaders.
There are 8 Dimensional Leadership Styles. I will speak of a few world famous leaders to give brief insight into these 8 dimensions. Steve Jobs is a brilliant example of an Innovative and Goal Driven Leader. His leadership style is what is referred to as the RI L1 dimensions. Oprah Winfrey is a team building Participative Leader (R2). Nelson Mandela, a current reality risk taking Visionary Leader (R1). Winston Churchill, a overcoming dependable Steadfast Leader (L2) as well as a clear and focused Goal Driven Leader (L1). With the understanding of their own leadership preferences these exceptional leaders led from their dominant style yet were able to, for the most part, avoid pitfalls as they shifted to other people’s preferences as well.
My own personal leadership style is referred to as the Servant Leader. Exceptional leaders who were also of this dimension (R2) are Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. The servant leader is driven to serve and empower first. These leaders are driven by the need to see human equality and would desire the rights of the underprivileged to be made aware of and to be met.
The pitfalls to the servant leader style (each dimension has pitfalls, being made aware of, the exceptional leader will put measures in place to prevent pitfalls if at all possible), this leader will often over extend themselves in assisting others and jeopardize their own health and well being in the care of others. The motto of ‘put the oxygen mask on yourself first’ is something that every servant leader must learn and practice in order to be in the game for the long haul. Servant leaders will give of themselves until there is nothing left to give. Awareness of this tendency is a must and the practice of boundaries along with developing team around them that are more ‘hands on leaders’ (L2) would assist this style of leadership to be exceptional.
In these changing times, it is imperative to understand your own leadership preference which will assist in the understanding of those you are leading. Every person is a leader, as you lead at least one…..yourself! The 21st century leader must be a whole brain leader in order to move beyond average to exceptional. It would give me great pleasure to assist you in discovering your brilliant leadership style!