Why Traditional Leadership Fails

Traditional leadership models, also known as Authoritative/Directive leadership, is a management style that’s been used for many years.

The definition of an authoritative leadership style, according to Wikipedia (source), is exemplified when a leader dictates policies and procedures, decides what goals are to be achieved, and directs and controls all activities without any meaningful participation by the subordinates. Such a leader has full control of the team, leaving low autonomy within the group.

This type of total control is outdated and often leaves employees feeling like they’re opinions don’t matter, they are being led by a dictatorship and feel resentment.

Traditional leadership is:

  • Controlled
  • Dominates without interaction
  • Independently sets policies and procedures
  • Has one-way communication
  • Are often poor listeners and problem solvers

This type of leadership fails in today’s business world. It doesn’t allow room for constructive feedback, creative thinking and innovation. Employees might feel like they don’t have any input and are powerless to change things. The success or failure of the business/project depends on the managers knowledge and expertise. And finally, it limits the growth of employees with experience, making them potentially look for employment elsewhere.

Instead, a newer type of leadership that allows for more flexibility, inspiring workers and sharing control and responsibility of projects while trusting workers to work independently without being micromanaged.

Developing your leadership skills

 “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” – Norman Vincent Peale

The skills you need to be a successful leader (or individual), is more than just having the natural talent to be a leader. Many of the skills can be developed and honed with time and practice. Simple practices you can do in your everyday life will help you build leadership abilities.

  • Learn to listen and communicate. Listening is an essential skill of being a good leader. Put away your phone or other gadget, look others in the eye and really listen to what they are saying. Nod and communicate with them in a way the other person knows you are really listening and understand them.

Communicating and listening can be tough, especially with certain people in your personal life. Learning this skill even when it’s difficult builds your leadership skills and helps you relate to other people.

  • Get involved with causes you care about. Raise your hand when an opportunity to lead others becomes available. Volunteering is a great way to learn leadership skills that might include strategic planning, interviewing others, and learning procedures and processes.
  • Be more intentional in making decisions in your personal life. Thinking about what you’re doing and deciding if it’s the best choice, whether it’s in your relationships, finances, or some other area of your life, builds skills that are crucial for leaders.

Being more mindful in your actions and decisions, helps you develop a strong sense of identity making us a better leader not only in our own lives but in the lives of others as well.

  • Have a diverse group of people with varied life experiences and backgrounds in your life. Become involved in community organisations, religious groups or other groups to meet people with different experiences and ideas than your own. This can expand your way of thinking and teach you to learn to value the opinions of all.
  • Take responsibility for your own actions. Did you forget to do something important for someone? Own up to it and make amends. Don’t make excuses for your actions. Follow through when you give your word. Don’t lie and procrastinate.

Another thing you can do daily is to begin saying affirmations that help you build your leadership skills. Here are a few examples to get you started, and there are more in the Resilient Leadership Kit (scroll to the bottom of this post to access).

  • My story inspires others to change
  • I set trends and think outside the box that others follow.
  • I shape my own future. What I believe, I become.
  • I am an outstanding, confident leader
  • I lead others by being a good example
  • I inspire and motivate others to reach their goals
  • I do the difficult and challenging tasks with strength and resolve.

I’m often told that affirmations don’t work. And they don’t work if you don’t know how to use them correctly. It’s a lot like saying your car doesn’t work when you insert the wrong key into the ignition. The signs of a great leader is one that gets help when something is beyond their current reach.

Everyday actions from treating colleagues with respect to making the team coffee are lessons in building your leadership skills.

What are you doing today to let go of the traditional leadership model and embrace modern leadership?


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