There are so many ways to “lead” that sometimes we get confused trying to distinguish them all. At the end of the day, it may not matter as long as leadership happens. But what are you really good at? What kind of leadership can you become more intentional about? What kind of leadership can you become known for?
As the command-and-control model of leadership rapidly gives way to influential leadership styles, let’s look at two leadership models that are available to just about anyone at any level, change leadership and thought leadership. They are not the same, although together they can be powerful. Which can you adapt into your leadership style?
I believe that every leader should master the dynamics of change, because most of what we lead these days is changing at such a rapid pace. But mastering change means understanding both the technical and social complexities of what makes change desirable and manageable. Most of us are better at the technical stuff because we’re trained, we’re smart and the subject matter has more objective elements that can be measured and analyzed.
The social, subjective, human stuff is more challenging by definition, so it’s where we need to spend more of our developmental energy. The principles of change mastery are relatively simple, understanding human motivation and group dynamics, but mastering them is a personal journey. Mastering change leadership requires us to be intentional about how we are personally motivated, how we interact with others and how we can get our own hang-ups out of the way of the change we’re trying to lead.
Want to be a change leader? Master the human dynamic, starting with yourself.
The title “thought leader” is often reserved for those rarified authors, researchers and industry titans who blow our minds with new ideas. Think of Mark Benioff who in less than two short decades has redefined the software industry with his tireless championing (and brilliant execution of) of what is now known as cloud computing.
In fact, thought leadership is accessible to everyone at every level in an organization and it’s a key strategy in becoming an influential leader.
We all toss our opinions on the table, but the thought leader does more than that. Thought leaders put ideas and opinions out that have underlying rationales capable of being tested, adapted and evolved. More importantly, the thought leader “leads” by doing the thinking that others won’t, don’t or can’t. Thought leaders stand by their ideas and in doing so, reframe and shift discussions in the direction that allows the solution to present itself. Thought leaders don’t take the debate on their ideas personally; they accept “wins” and “defeats” gracefully and, when combined with delivering results, they get noticed, sponsored and promoted.
Think your ideas have the power to shift the dialog? Then lead with them by doing the work others won’t, don’t or can’t to develop your ideas and stand by them. Learn to advocate effectively and become known as someone who does the extra thinking, the kind that helps everyone reach their goals. Your business needs you to stand by your ideas even more than it needs your opinions.