Leadership Styles through the rearview mirror

Are you leading through the windshield or the rear-view mirror?

Questions about leadership styles can give you as many different classifications and definitions as there are business owners . . . 5 traits of the most successful leaders . . . the 12 most common leadership types . . . the list goes on and on.

So the question beckons, why are we obsessed with identifying with a common theme or group? A simple answer lies in the third level of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs known as Love and Belonging. Here, Maslow states that the human need for relationships actually motivates behavior, and who doesn’t want their behavior to be motivated. Additionally, identification with a leadership style is a good way to both feel secure with where you are as a leader as well as create a launchpad from which to grow to the next level.

I’m not going to go through different leadership styles. (As stated above, there a plethora of these lists online already.) Instead, I want to focus on a more important question . . . “HOW do you lead?”.  In other words, what kind of vision do you have and how do you make decisions in your business?

Many business owners and leaders that I meet are busy running their businesses through the rear-view mirror.  What do I mean by that? Well for starters, everything is historical . . . a look back, if you will.  Owners that pour over the information in P&L’s, but don’t operate using a cash flow budget, are a good example. Now, I am in no way suggesting that you ignore the results of the past.  Historical analysis is imperative, but it serves only as the cover charge to get into the party of success. It is necessary, but not sufficient.

The more important element of self and business analysis comes in the form of forward-focused projections. In other words, leading through the wind shield. With this type of leadership, we can create SMARTER goals and utilize a system of tracking and benchmarking that allows us to view results in motion and pivot in real time, hopefully before the outcome is certain. Imagine if you will how a major league baseball player analyzes a pitch before swinging. They have only nano-seconds to identify, process and adjust. The best make it look easy. If they can manage this at such a fevered pitch, your business can do the same in a quarter.

So moving forward, look at how you use the information at your fingertips to make decisions in your business. What is your forward-focus? Do you use Key Performance Indicators or Key Prediction Indicators? How are you using past indicators as future benchmarks? Do the people in the back seat even see where you are going? What is there role in getting to the destination? How do you bring the front-seat perspective to their daily lives in order to help them to empower their people and/or better perform their jobs to achieve the expected results?

If you’re not sure about the answers to some of these questions contact us to learn how we help business owners gain clarity and perspective in growing their team and organization as a whole.

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