We all need to be called upon to be a leader sometimes, whether that’s as a business owner, manager, in your work role, mother, father, sibling, family
member or friend. So what is your leadership character?
There are different characters of people in leadership positions however you don’t really know someone’s character until you see them under pressure or
What kind of person do I want to work with?
I often set a scene in my mind that is based on WW1 and fighting out of the trenches. I imagine a person I know and wonder if they would be by my side
when we hear the whistle and run into battle. I make my decisions on who I want on my team from this perspective. I don’t base my choice on a “maybe”;
it must be a convincing “yes”.
I have been in a number of these kinds of situations in the past and as the crisis hit, I may have been with other people who said they would go
into battle with me but as I ran forward into the conflict there was no one beside me and, although I never looked sideways, I realised when I entered
the battle that I was alone and outnumbered.
There were a couple of times when there was someone beside me and most of these are the people I “know”, my great long-term real friends. You must “know”
who is on your team whether that’s in sport, business or life in general, who will be by your side when it counts, who will keep their “word”.
Although extreme and dramatic I use the WW1 scenario to illustrate the 3 leadership characters that I have experienced. They are confronting and provocative
however it’s up to you to feel whether any of them are you or people you depend on.
3 Leadership Characters
The Pretender is all talk with little action, they say they will jump out of the trenches with you or be there when it counts however they are nowhere
to be seen when the real pressure is on. They get someone else to fire the bullets as they lack the courage to do what needs to be done. They
tend to get angry and shout, they use fear to motivate others and when there is some success they don’t acknowledge another person for the part they
played but instead take all the credit.
These leaders may achieve some short-term success but are not there long term as over time people realise that they are all talk and bravado with no real
substance. The Pretender will often associate in gangs as they feel protected by the numbers of people who believe in the same things as them. You
rarely find them by themselves when in a conflicting situation, unless they are unaware that a conflict is happening. Their braveness
comes from the group not from inside themselves. They tend to be bullies and pick on people who they know they can beat or have a lesser position
These people may be ok as leaders when all is going their way, however, they are weak when the team or business have significant challenges to overcome.
They don’t take responsibility for any mistake or failure; they constantly create “stories” to place the blame on someone or something else. These
people are selfish and rarely do anything altruistic; they “do” only for themselves.
The Courageous leader may jump out of the trenches but often hesitates to fire the bullets; they are the people the Pretender, who is in a position of
authority, chooses to fire the bullets, however, they do so in a timid or reluctant manner. The Courageous leader is naive, they have the fortitude
to say what they feel needs to be said but will hold back from being “too” honest as they don’t want to hurt people’s feelings “too” much. They will
take the opportunity to speak their mind however if they don’t get the result they hope for they are reluctant to take that risk again. They are unpredictable
and unreliable as sometimes they will do as they say and sometimes they won’t. Of course, this leader will say they will be by your side when it counts
but you can never be sure. These people can be selfless and occasionally altruistic however they do expect something in return.
The Warrior leaders are the elite and rare leaders, the true long-term captains who not only say they will jump out of the trenches but do. They jump first
and may even push you back, they lead by example and when they face the enemy they have no hesitation in shooting the bullets. They have killer instinct
with no fear of consequences. These are the people who you can rely on, they say what they intend to do and they do what they say, they are shining
examples of Integrity. They will risk their position and even their lives when they feel something needs to be said or done for the benefit of the
team, the business, the family, friends or humanity in general. These leaders are altruistic; they are not motivated by personal gain and work for
the common good of all. This doesn’t mean they sacrifice themselves for the common good as they include themselves in this motivation as well, however
they find greater inspiration and happiness from seeing others succeed as much as themselves.
They will dismiss someone for breaking the agreed rules even if that person is a high performer and producing good results, they will not make exceptions
to the rules for anyone. They have core values that they never change not for money or any form of personal gain, not for anything. They are wise to
also know when a fight is worth fighting for or when there are other ways of achieving the result. You may not possess the full Warrior character,
however, if you want to be an elite team in business or sport then your captain must be a Warrior leader.
Can you think of leaders you know and which character they are?
Based on these 3 leadership characters I recently asked a number of people independently to assess certain leaders of elite business, within the media
or within sports teams. Interestingly their answers were all similar.
I encourage you to judge yourself and the people you depend on by using the 3 leadership characters, you won’t always get it right but it will give you
a better chance of having someone beside you when it counts. However, always remember you will never really know yourself or someone’s character until
the whistle blows and the time has come to run into the battle and fight.
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