Oh, the Platitudes of Leadership (Marketing)…

penguins1Great leaders need vision!  Emotional intelligence is the most important leadership trait!  The best leaders are transformational!  Good leaders inspire, motivate, empower, and engage!

Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes……and…..Not always. Not always. Not always. Not always….

You see, if marketers, i.e., leadership consultants, coaches, authors, and speakers didn’t lead with impressive platitudes, what’s the fear?  Yep, you’ve got it…they won’t sell their ideas as original or innovative.  Well, guess what?  They’re typically neither original nor innovative.  Believe what they’re selling, and all that’s been proven is that you’re gullible.

The truth is…..

Leadership is all of those and more….and none of them.

How well do your leaders adapt?
How well do your leaders adapt?

Sound a bit like situational leadership?  It is…and it’s not. The origins of the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory in the 1970s was somewhat restrictive in and of itself.  Oh, sure, the name sounded all-encompassing.  But in reality, it characterized leadership styles into Telling, Selling, Participating, and Delegating.  And nearly any platitude used out there by modern-day gurus falls into one of these four styles.

But this post isn’t about Hersey-Blanchard, and it’s really not about situational leadership.  What it is about, though, is about stopping seeking the latest and greatest “solution” or leadership approach as the panacea of good leadership.

You see, good leaders (prepare yourself for platitudes) are…..flexible and pliant.  At times authoritarian and at times participative.  Sometimes motivational and other times merely visionary.  Transactional when necessary, and transformational when required.

You see, in my line of work (teaching or consulting, equally), too often clients (and fellow consultants alike) market themselves and their organizations under a particular banner or measurement instrument.  Why? Because much of the marketing is about appearances.

So, the next time you interact with a consultant or “expert” who claims to have the one solution to your problems (typically without even listening enough to figure out the basis of your specific challenge), take a step back and don’t jump in with both feet….just yet, anyway.  Whether it’s a personality assessment (MBTI, DiSC, 16PF, etc.), emotional intelligence (EQi, ESCI), a leadership 360, or a culture audit, a one-size-fits-all approach is usually more of a one-size-barely-fits-anyone solution.

Your leadership challenges cannot be pigeon-holed into one easy slot, any more than your leaders and culture are just like every other organization and their leaders.  As indicated by my blog’s title, be a bit of a skeptical positivist in your engagements with “experts.”  Question their underlying expertise, particularly when the message they are “selling” is one of an underlying “truth” about leadership.

wheatChances are, in your professional life, you’ve experienced various effective leaders while wildly different personalities, styles, and approaches.  That’s how the world is….so why should there be one push-button solution or single key element to strengthening your leaders?

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