Leadership: Be A Keen Observer

There are two universal leadership styles that determine where you will end up in your career.

– The first style is what I call, My Gut Is Always Right:

This kind of leader has held many positions and has managed to work himself up to a senior leadership position. If we’re talking about a multi-billion dollar company, this person would occupy one of the five or six highest positions.

This senior executive really trusts his gut, which means he doesn’t fully trust the abilities of the junior mangers under him. Here’s the lesson: your gut is not ALWAYS right. There are times when the best of us have blind spots and need people under us with differing views from our own.

Sooner or later the TRUST MY GUT leader will do it his way one too many times. And, more than likely it fails him at a critical time when it negatively impacts the entire corporation.

This results In the GUT guy losing the confidence of the top leader, and is removed, along with all the executives under him, who by this time start to defend themselves by saying “I tried to tell him, but he would not listen.” The reply back is usually, “well you should have told him your advice louder, or been willing to step down if you knew his decision was wrong. We don’t pay you to be “yes” men.”

– The second style is, I DELEGATE AUTHORITY: 

This kind of executive has been successful at delegating authority. She has worked herself up to one of the top five or six positions in a multi-billion dollar corporation. Young aggressive executives want to work for her, because of her delegating style.

The flaw here is that too much can be delegated to young aggressive executives who are more than happy to exercise authority. It’s just a matter of time, however, before the junior executive will make a serious mistake, which the top executive has to live with.

When challenged by those above her, she will more than likely explain the mistake by saying, “I tried to tell him (the junior executive) not to do that, but he wouldn’t listen to me.”

You never want to say that to upper levels of management. The response back usually is, “it looks like you’ve lost control of your people.” This is tantamount to being dismissed from her position. She might as well clean out her desk and look for another job. The junior executive might as well follow. He’ll be tagged as a gunslinger who can’t hit the bullseye.


            The ideal style

Life is tough at upper levels of management in large corporations. It won’t get any easier in the future. More and more, sophisticated technology, with large portions of artificial intelligence imbedded, will be making decisions that humans once did. That means there will be fewer executives at the top, middle and lower levels of management.

Even if I suggested better leadership styles than were manifested above, it wouldn’t make a lot of difference, because there will be far fewer position available in the future.

So, over the years, this is what I have suggested to anyone within an earshot:

  1. Even if you have great leadership skills, don’t get involved with big corporations. It’s hard to believe, but careers in large corporations, more often than not, are dead end paths. Times have changed. No matter how talented you may be, large corporations cannot afford to offer loyalty for loyalty, no matter how refined your leadership skills may be.
  2. On the other hand, look for positions with small startups. Small startups are more interested in your desire to work hard and be enthusiastic. In a small startup, you’re given the luxury of making mistakes, because there is much less consequence at the level of a startup.
  3. Better yet, and best of all, start your own business. Work it hard, be loyal to it, and it’ll be the best decision you ever made. Success is predicated on your desire to create something, not on the particular leadership style you have developed. And if you are fortunate enough to create the entire product yourself, and in developing the supply chain, and the distribution chain, you will stand the best chance of keeping your personality intact and whole.