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This morning I was catching up on a bit of reading and stumbled across a couple of Forbes article’s from Mark Murphy that I really enjoyed.  I’ve said this often, but it certainly can’t hurt to reiterate it again … whether you chose Product Management or had it inadvertently thrust upon you, you are called to be a leader.  It’s one of the reasons I love the role so much.  So anything that touches upon leadership styles, traits, or success factors will always catch my attention.

In the first article, Leadership Styles are Often Why CEOs Get Fired, the author describes the following four leadership styles:

“My research has identified four fundamental leadership styles: Pragmatist, Idealist, Steward and Diplomat (see my previous Forbes article for a deeper dive).

  • Pragmatists are driven, competitive, and they value hitting their goals above all else.
  • Idealists want to learn and grow, and they want everyone else on the team to do the same.
  • Stewards are dependable, loyal and helpful, and they provide a stabilizing and calming force for their employees.
  • Diplomats are the affiliative force that keeps groups together and typically build deep personal bonds with their employees.”

Digging into the secondary article provides more insights and examples for each of the styles .. and an interesting perspective on which style I think I am (and therefore leaders I compare to) vs. who I wish I compared to.

But more importantly, the article goes on to discuss how styles and culture can sometimes conflict.  This is an important point that shouldn’t be missed … “If your company is in crisis turnaround mode or has an alpha-male culture (think the Wall Street stereotype), perhaps leadership styles like the Diplomat aren’t the best fit. Conversely, in cultures like Home Depot or Southwest Airlines, known for being highly affiliative, I probably wouldn’t recommend leadership styles like the Pragmatist.”

To end on a fun note, what I couldn’t help questioning when reading the descriptions of the styles was “what if I think I fit in more than one”.  And of course being the science fiction fan that I am (with a recent affinity for stories with dystopian themes), what immediately came to mind was this scene from Divergent.  So to alter the character Four’s quote about a minute into the scene …

I don’t want to be just one thing, I can’t be … I want to be pragmatic and I want to be an idealist, a steward and a diplomat.

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