I didn’t know about leadership. But for reasons I didn’t know, my classmates kept on electing me as the class president – in Grade 1, 2, 3, & 4…
I asked my teachers, “Why me?” But my question was drowned out by the noisy electing body. They were so excited to nominate the next vice president. When noise died down, I asked myself, “Why me?” An inner voice said, “Why not you?”
So even without knowledge about leadership, I accepted the role – in Grade 1, 2, 3, and 4. But why did I allow it to happen repeatedly? Well, the thing is, I wasn’t bothered anymore. After we had the election, we pretended to discuss on some class rules and regulations, and the next day we were listing down names of those who were making noise:
[Randy – III; Roma – IIII; Rocky – 10 VERY NOISY]
Beyond that, I didn’t know about what else I should be doing.
But Grade 5 came and there we were standing on the school grounds to elect the overall student body officers for the year. I couldn’t object when I was nominated for the position of president. I was then elected as the student body president.
After the election, we did the same thing. But we no longer pretended we were discussing. We were actually discussing about the school rules and regulations. I didn’t know I was being introduced to the leadership style called democratic or participative. When we make decisions, we made sure we gather everybody to participate in the discussion and decision-making process.
I brought this along with me as I continued to serve as a student leader in three organizations in high school.
But one day, as a third-year high school student, I found myself taking part in the Cadet Officer Leadership Training. Our trainers were tough and strict. The CAT Facilitator was tougher and stricter. There were a lot of orders. If you complain, they tell you, “Comply first before you complain.” If you made a mistake, they tell you, “Give me 1 month.” No, that doesn’t mean 1 month without training — it means 30 counts of push up. The bad thing was that I wasn’t punished that much so I wasn’t able to build my muscles. 😉
But that year, I realized I was being introduced to another leadership style called commanding or bureaucratic.
The following year, I became the CAT Corps Commander. I received orders, I implemented them. I gave orders, I expected my elements or subordinates to follow them. One day, we were having a troop formation. There was limited space. I saw that one of the platoon leaders was having hard time. His elements were giving suggestions, instructions, or comments. The moment I heard it, I shouted at them, “Why are you commanding your platoon leader?! Just follow!”
I was tough. Even the bullies in class or even those who are evidently physically stronger (with their bulging muscles and tiger looks) were intimidated by my leadership style. Good thing was that I was still a good boy, so it worked well when I had it ‘in control’. But there were also times when I was so stubborn and not thinking well and feeling well, I pushed them to their limits. That afternoon, several girls almost gave up and some boys started to resent my leadership.
I was glad, I learned to adjust.
I brought along with me these two leadership styles in college and then to my work.
Until one day, as a young supervisor in my previous company, I was having a one-on-one conversation with one of my team members. I was done giving her performance appraisal and then I asked, “How about you? How would you evaluate my performance as your supervisor?”
She paused for four seconds. She glanced around. She looked at me. She smiled. Then she turned serious. “Sir Chris, I appreciate your leadership. You are a good leader. I admire how clearly you communicate the goals and emphasize performance. But maybe you need to consider how you are being received by the other employees, especially our counterparts in the other departments. I have heard some comments. Maybe you can be kinder and friendlier in your approach.”
I was taken aback. I also paused for four seconds. I glanced around. Then I looked at her. Now understanding the wisdom in her statement. I took her words into heart. It was difficult but that was the start of my way of striving to put people first before performance, or better stated, pointing out performance but still prioritizing the person.
That day I was being introduced to the third leadership style called affiliative.
I later learned of other leadership styles like the pacesetting, visionary, and coaching styles. There are also what are called innovative and altruistic leadership style.
In my journey, I realized that we need to adjust accordingly. Similar conclusion was found out by Daniel Goleman, in his study involving 3,000 mid-level managers as published in the Harvard Business Review. They concluded that successful managers and leaders adjust accordingly, depending on the situation. There is no single leadership style that is suitable for all situations. We must learn to adjust accordingly.
It is difficult but it is in this way that we will be able to achieve our purpose. After all, we are not just leading for the sake of performance. We are also leading for the people involved and for a higher purpose.
When we make mistakes as leaders, it doesn’t mean we are done. We just need to learn from it. Adjust accordingly. And remind other leaders to also adjust accordingly.
(Chris Dao-anis, CPA, DTM is a leadership trainer, presentations coach, and an author of 4 books including ‘SPEAK: How to Craft and Deliver a Speech or Presentation with Competence and Confidence’. Get his book for free by attending the SPEAK 2.0 Intensive Public Speaking Workshop on May 25. Register now at http://bit.ly/SpeakBaguio. Meet good people who also want to grow at the Growth Summit 2019; sign up now at http://bit.ly/growthsummitph.)