Many Ways of Leading

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I was particularly interested this week in what Stephen Buckley had to say about his own leadership styles. He was open about the way he leads, which I think is a true sign of people who are comfortable and secure in the knowledge that they are responsible for many people, as well as the (inevitable–we’re human!) mistakes of others.

Stephen said that he leads by serving, something we’ve all come to know as “servant leadership.” Instead of commanding people and delegating with force, Stephen “listens when they want to be listened to” and lets his employees drive along their own creative paths. As I reflect upon leadership styles while watching Star Wars, I wanted to talk more about Stephen’s style of leadership and into which of the categories I’ve been researching it fits.

I believe Stephen is a “participative leader.” By definition, this makes him someone who believes in a leadership style that leads to “mutual benefit.” People learn from him and he learns from them everyday. Rather than being a purely authoritarian leader, though Stephen obviously holds authority with his employees, he chooses to participate in learning experiences, decision-making, and other ventures with his staff. According to the aforementioned/linked website above, Stephen’s leadership style is “a sign of strength that your employees will respect,” rather than one in which people walk all over him or in which he is an intimidating figurehead.

I also enjoyed Stephen’s answer to my question: has this leadership style ever backfired on you? Rather than outright saying,”Yes, it has,” Stephen illustrated that every leadership style will have its moments and points of “weakness.” He mentioned that, as people get to know his style, the conflict often lessens. More importantly, though, especially because this is a point on which I have much work to do, he said that he budgets time for people. He hosts his own “open office hours” and makes himself available to his employees, rather than locking himself up all day in a fancy office.

Hearing about Stephen Buckley’s leadership tactics made me realize that I need to be mindful of my own and ask myself some important questions. What is my leadership style? How have I led groups before, and how can I more efficiently lead them again?

I leave you all with a question: what do you believe to be your leadership style at this point in time? I’d like to think I lead with the quiet dignity of Stephen’s style, but the truth is I currently lean more toward the authoritarian style.


-Caroline Porter