None of us are "pure" anything but most of us as leaders have a predominant leadership style. It is not unusual for organizational leaders to be able to play the other two roles when needed. But generally one will find that leaders will fit into one of these three categories.
Project leaders love to work with initiatives that have defined outcomes and timeframes. They are wired to move key actions toward results. Usually they focus on tactics and implementation rather than strategy and philosophy. They are often concrete in their thinking and approach as this is what projects need. A good project leader is able to mobilize and work with people to accomplish a specific goal. Their satisfaction comes with the completion of a project.
Project leaders do not want to manage something long term. Rather, once the project is completed they are ready to move on to the next project. Often they are wired to solve problems and once the problem is resolved the challenge is gone and they are ready for the next. While they can manage people, their motivation for doing so is to accomplish the project, not manage for the sake of managing. In fact, long term management of people and programs will frustrate a project leader.
Then there are influence leaders who lead not from positional authority (often) but they work with people and ideas to motivate growth, change, initiate thinking and new angles of approaching issues. Their focus is on insight and learning and they use their influence within a system or organization to bring change. Usually they work with or for others to impact and support results.
Influence leaders usually are not motivated to manage other but to influence others. They don't want to manage programs but to influence healthy results. They are thinkers and use their analysis, ideas and relational skills to move others in a key direction. A good consultant is often an influence leader as can be trainers. Ironically, many of the most influential people in any organization do not have positional authority but lead out of influence. This is often true in the local church.
The third category, organizational leaders also lead for the most part out of influencing others but they have the added ability and desire to bring people, opportunities and structure together in an aligned system to accomplish the overall mission of the organization. They have the ability to connect disparate parts into a whole, move multiple agendas with an overall focus on strategy and outcomes. They enjoy ongoing oversight (not control but empowering others) and primarily work through others to achieve results. Thus they have the capacity to lead a team.
The best organizational leaders are organizers, strategists and architects of overall strategy in order to achieve a mission. They are conceptual thinkers, have the ability to hold different options and ideas in tension and are highly flexible. Their satisfaction comes from getting all the puzzle pieces together so that the mission is accomplished and they understand that they must work through others in order to accomplish their goals.
If you are a leader, which of these descriptions is most like you? If you lead others, can you identify what kind of leaders you lead and are they in their proper lane?
(Posted from Milwaukee)