Leadership Lessons

Real-World Leadership Lessons

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Leadership is an art, a science, and a craft. As I mentioned in my previous post, many leaders use different styles depending on the situation and organization. The leadership profiles and insights that follow were the result of connecting and working with leaders at all levels of their imagination, creativity, innovation, visioning, mentorship, and communication. 

Leader “W”

Leader W worked for a European manufacturing company. Although on the younger side, this leader was a very confident and competent individual. He operated out of the corporate headquarters, and oversaw a global employee population. His leadership style was a combination of dynamic innovativeness and democratic commitment to the organization.

Working with this leader provided a learning experience based on his style of freedom to create and drive engaging employee projects and activities. Complete trust, support, and acceptance of ideas and input resulted in many great outcomes. A comprehensive talent management portfolio was developed and distributed to all managers. A dynamic executive development program was built and launched. Clearly, great supportive behaviors, perfect direction, and strong encouragement led to outstanding successes for the organization. 

Leader “V” 

Leader V was a division president and CEO of a global manufacturing organization. This leader was from Germany, taking on a key role in the U.S. business. He was extremely authoritarian, very controlling, and overly structured. Even though highly focused on the business, he was also focused on himself, and unfortunately, less on the people. He didn’t understand the importance of humility. He remained very task-focused and overly command and control-oriented.

Working with this leader provided insights into the importance of collaboration, as well as being aware of the value of humility and authenticity. Being a leader requires a focus on the future. Yet, taming personal tenacity and persistence needs to occur so you can jump hurdles to drive positive and dynamic business outcomes, along with maintaining positive and engaging attitudes. 

Leader “Y”  

Leader Y was a past leader within the medical diagnostic world and focused on driving production at a manufacturing organization of complex therapeutic products. Although somewhat technical in nature, this leader was very relationship-oriented and a strong driver of a collaborative vision built on clear core values. He recognized the impact and importance of open communication with the employee population at all levels. He was big on regular connecting meetings, both large and small, as well as on town hall meetings that were very engaging. There were events to celebrate successes. This leader was a dynamic, persuasive influencer and a great driver of change along with growth.


Working with this leader demonstrated the importance and impact of connecting with colleagues as well as all employees. Leaders and top executives who show a caring attitude and have a sense of humor can truly enhance overall people and organizational effectiveness. 

Leader “X”  

Leader X was a human resource officer at a U.S.-based company with global service and product distribution. This leader was a trust builder with a strong focus on empowering direct reports and encouraging creative thinking. He was very relationship-oriented and a creator of team harmony. Besides having clear policies and procedures, this leader was extremely supportive of a learning and growth-driven culture.

Working with this leader opened the door to building a coaching culture, along with an effective approach to developing stronger leadership competencies. A learning process and a caring leader approach helps drive more emotional engagement, as well as a commitment to the organization. Self-aware and skilled coaching leaders and managers at all levels learn to take calculated risks and enhance their comfort with ambiguity and conflict. 

Leader “Z” 

Leader Z was an experienced business leader, providing direction and services within the medical device manufacturing world. This intelligent leader was highly organized, with clear strategies and direction. He expected and demanded the highest level of problem solving based on explicit details and personal insights. As a pacesetter, he was very action- and results-driven.

Working with this leader enhanced a more powerful approach to communicating needs and articulating organizational challenges and expectations. For example, providing only four solutions to a problem always resulted in a request for additional insights and methods. So, a process based on carefully reviewing all concerns and presenting several approaches to specific obstacles became a critical success factor for the best outcomes. Long-term goals were always a key component to every review discussion.

Throughout a leader’s journey and career, there are lessons learned as well as major discoveries. Being connected and experiencing different leaders and leadership styles has resulted in new personal insights and wisdom. Regardless of an individual’s leadership style, all leaders need to be:

  • active listeners 
  • open and authentic 
  • builders of trust 
  • present 
  • role models 
  • themselves.

“The systemic function of leadership is to make members of the team resonate along a longitudinal wavelength to boost them toward a common goal, fostering the growth of synergies and creativity. To harmonize people in a human system you need to focus attention on the relationships between them: First you need to build them or, if they already exist, fortify them.”
—Jorge Cuervo, Leaders Don’t Command

About the Author
Paul Fein is an organizational development consultant and certified life coach. As the the managing leader and director of The IDD Leadership Group, he a develops custom-created management development programs. Connect with Paul on LinkedIn. 
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