Leaders come in all shapes and sizes

November 15, 2015By Industry Intuition, Views

By Dave Wendland for Drug Store News

October 15, 2015

Leadership is defined as the action of leading a group of people or an organization. Perhaps I’m hyper-aware of leadership styles. Our company has been undertaking a project to identify future leaders and position our organization for continued growth. You certainly cannot turn on a news network without commentary regarding the slate of presidential candidates and their various leadership styles. And within our industry we have witnessed changing of the guards at a number of corporations.

As I thought about this blog, I decided to look at leadership through the eyes of my six-year-old great-niece, Grace. Surprisingly, there are many parallels between the leaders she encounters each day and those we may work with. And then for some provocation, I’ve classified several presidential candidates in a similar manner.

Parental leader

Although parents themselves can take any number of leadership styles, I’m going to use my nephew and his wife as examples. They are instructive but not domineering. They set good examples and establish some parameters, but then let their two girls learn right and wrong on their own. I would say they encourage independence while stepping in when necessary.

Perhaps surprisingly, I believe Hillary Clinton expresses a parental leadership style. Similar to Jeb Bush, both candidates use examples as guideposts in their leadership.

Guiding/supportive leader

For my great niece, this is her swim instructor. The instructor is a compassionate, understanding, and encouraging woman. She has provided Grace and her fellow swimmers with the tools and skills necessary to continually reach toward the next goal. And along the way, the swim instructor is offering the kids lessons and experiences that will shape how they react in certain circumstances (goal setting, dealing with disappointment, and encouraging others to succeed).

Perhaps it is his medical background, but Dr. Ben Carson has consistently demonstrated a guiding and steady hand while leading others. Marco Rubio, I believe, is also a supportive leader displaying a high degree of empathy.

Dictatorial leader

The individual who embodies this leadership style is often telling people what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and literally making all of the decisions. In Grace’s world, this is her teacher. Although respected, this leader does not freely promote collaboration or negotiation. As a very free-spirited little girl, Grace is sometimes frustrated by not having the opportunity to do something her way rather than the dictated path.

From my observances during this early-stage election race, I place Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina into this leadership camp. Both are highly driven individuals with a very purposeful approach to leading.

Transformational leader

From what I hear from my great niece, this describes her principal to a tee. He is a visionary with countless stories that motivate and ignite the children about the future of their school, their path to learning, and their self-worth.

Chris Christie seems to embody many of the transformational leadership traits and appears sincere in his efforts to effect change. I would also characterize John Kasich and Bernie Sanders as transformational leaders.

Different situations may call for different leadership styles. Although the ideal leader may be an amalgamation of all styles into one, that is simply not possible. Whatever style you currently employ or are striving to become, remember to remain genuine, consistent, and focused.