“The leader shows that style is no substitute for substance, that creating an impression is more potent than acting from one’s center.” --Lao Tzu
Leadership is both art and science, leadership need both hard discipline and soft touch; leadership also has both substance and style; though everybody talks about style, not so many people understand the meaning of the word in the business environment. If leadership substance is about why and what of leadership, then, leadership style is the way how something is said or done, as distinguished from its substance. Leadership demands the expression of an authentic self. Authenticity is not the product of pure manipulation. It should accurately reflect aspects of the leader’s inner self.
1. If Vision is Leadership Substance: Larger than selves than the moment;
then, the presentation is style: Open vs. closed; proactive vs. reactive; pull vs. push.
2. If Trustworthiness is leadership Substances: Leaders keep their word, transparent, and candid; exploring and decisive; summarizing others’ positions;
then, collaboration is style: Flexible vs. stubborn; understanding vs. argumentative.
3. If Empathy is Leadership Substance: Leaders perceive things via multiple angles;
then, communication is style: Listen to vs. talk; introversion vs. extroversion; monolithic vs. mosaic.
4. If Insight is Leadership Substance: Leaders go deeper, and have self-awareness;
then, thinking process is style: synthesis vs. analysis; data driven vs. gut-feeling.
5. If Adaptability is Leadership Substance: Adaptive leaders create a shared sense of purpose and learning through self-correction; make dissenting opinion compulsory
then, flexibility is style: open-minded vs. status quo.; inclusive vs. exclusive.
6. If Innovation is Leadership Substance: innovative leaders build up a creative working environment and manage novel ideas to achieve business values;
then, entrepreneur-style means: Highly creative and speculative, embrace change and connect dots;; outside-in vs. inside-out style.
7. If capability is Leadership Substance: Capable leaders have aptitude to set up strategy and execute with holistic thinking and logic planning;
then the attitude is style: Confidence vs. hesitation; humility vs. arrogance; courage vs. fear.
8. If effectiveness is Leadership Substance: Effective leaders are doing the right things;
then, leader’s decision-making styles include democratic vs. autocratic; strategic. vs. tactical;
9. If influence is Leadership Substance: Leadership is an influence, nothing more, nothing less;
then leading style is convincing vs. controlling; walk the talk vs. talk the talk.
10. if “Globility” is Leadership Substance: Global leadership is about managing an integrated enterprise across borders and achieve the common objective.
then, global style is about: Global accent (understand the multitude of business, technology and global dialect) with intellect curiosity and reflective empathy.
When company boundaries are blurred and the world is so hyper-connected, who leads whom? How can leaders regain the society’s confidence? How can they harness the creativity and passion of the workforce in pursuit of competitive advantage & unique difference on the global stage? It takes both leadership substance and style to sharpen modern leadership.