How To Be A Seasoned Leader.
Some leaders are great in certain circumstances, but are totally useless in other situations. The mark of a great leader is that they are able to remain effective in all situations.
If a meal is well seasoned, it implies it is full of flavour. This is not a bad definition for a leader. They have taste. They are attractive. They have impact.
However, an even better concept suggested by the term "seasoned leader" is that they are experienced, they have survived, they can cope with the rigours and opportunities provided by summer, winter, autumn and spring.
Are you a seasoned leader? Can you operate well in all the seasons of leadership? Let's explore this idea and you can judge for yourself.
Summer is about warmth, T-shirts and relaxed banter over barbecues. It is a time for sunny smiles and fun. In any organisation, there will be moments when a leader needs to be a summer leader. The office party, an executive team-building weekend and coffee machine queue is a time for a leader to be approachable, warm and relaxed.
However, this should not happen all the time. Over familiarity can trivialise the role of a leader, productivity can be compromised and authority can decline.
Winter is a time of closed doors and double glazing. It is a time of storms and chills. There is a time when it is important to be a winter leader. Sanctioning a colleague, making hard decisions and preserving the mystery of leadership can require some aloofness and even coldness.
However, this should not happen all the time. A wintery disposition can make a leader distant and unapproachable and followers can become disconnected and discouraged.
Spring is a season to clean, clear out and make room for the new. It is a time of awakening, of new growth and a promise of bounty. A hitherto bleak landscape takes on a new promise. It is important to be a spring leader, to create new opportunities, to refresh and update.
However, this should not happen all the time. Too much change can destabilise and risk unsettling an organisation. Spring leaders can have an energy that others may find threatening.
Autumn is a time to consolidate and prepare for the winter ahead. It is a time to be conservative, to be prudent and to plan for an uncertain future. At times, it is important to be an autumn leader and sink the roots down safely beneath the ground.
However, this should not happen all the time. An autumn leader can frustrate if they are too conservative. If they are too busy worrying about tomorrow, they can forget to appreciate today, and this can make them dour and dreary to be with.
What season of leadership are you strong in? What season are you weak in? What can you do to build on the former and reform the latter?
Leaders need to able to operate in every season. At times they will be called upon to innovate and take risks. At other times they will need to be careful and avoid all forms of danger. Sometime a leader will need to be warm and approachable. At other times they will need to be wintery and hard.
All of us have a predisposition towards a certain season. However, to be a seasoned leader, to be effective all the time requires situational leadership, an ability to change leadership style so that it is appropriate to the situation.