Executive Leadership Styles

17Nov07

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Last week, I was fortunate enough to be on the invite list for our MD’s quarterly leadership team offsite. As expected at these exec gatherings, there were the usual briefings and updates, a good number of heated yet constructive debates, and some agreed-to actions to repair some of our mis-steps from the previous quarter. But rather than dive into the boring and likely nondiscloseable off-site details anyways, I wanted to write about one aspect that kept my mind pondering well into the following week: executive leadership styles.

Since moving away from small start-ups and to the inner workings of large corporation five and a half years ago, I’ve attended a significant number of leadership offsites, but this most recent one imprinted a lasting impression on me. It wasn’t the most motivational session, nor anywhere near the worst, but quite surprisingly, it was the diversity in the varying styles exemplified. In a small-ish room filled with successful execs and managers, our management team’s diversity clearly shined through. For example as we were wrapping up our two-day festivities with a closing message from our CEO, within a span of 36 hours, I had the opportunity to witness the styles of my boss (whom I interact with day to day), my boss’ boss (Managing Director, whom I interact with once every other week or so), and his boss (CEO, whom I interact with once a quarter if I’m lucky). And to each, they all had a style that was hugely unique from the others, but also distinctively unique from the previous VP’s, EVP, and MD’s that I have been witness to throughout my career.

From a hand’s on, personalized approach, to a visionary let’s change the world, and even a ‘you stink, so step up and do something because you have nothing to lose’ message were all part of the motivational speeches by our leaders. And each of the styles while refreshingly different, also delivered in motivating me to get off my middle-management butt and get back to dramatically improving our firm… To be fair, maybe I’m only now appreciating the messages that are coming out of these types of management team events, rather than my usual ‘what a waste of X days’ sentiment that I usually leave with, and that’s definitely a step in the right direction for me and the organization.

Oh, and one last thing, I was also reminded that these events are not just to get some high level leadership messages across, but also to bring together our leaders and managers to sync-up and socialize our successes and issues where opportunities to do so outside of these get-togethers are far and few in between. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet some of the new faces in the management team, as well as catching up with some old ones that I’d not had the opportunity to bump into in quite a while. For once, I’m looking forward to the next event and building on the positives from this one. Oh, and if I can out-perform a bit and deliver something customer impacting before the next one, I’ll be sure to chalk that up to some good leadership ;-).

(image borrowed from: http://tmgcanada.wordpress.com/2007/03/28/

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