Alternative Models of Leadership

Written by Karen Szydlik

If I asked you to think of ‘a leader’ what comes to mind?

What was your first image when you heard that word ‘leader’…the very first one?

Male, female?

Solo or group?

Known or unknown figure?

Body posture?

Black or white?

My first image was a nondescript, probably male figure standing legs askance holding a flag in some sort of triumphant position. The second image I had was Barak Obama.

Both quite traditional figures and both in position of power.

To shift our thinking and our way of being a leader or even entertaining the possibility of seeing ourselves as a leader sometimes requires a shake up of these very traditional models and definitions.

So let’s play a bit with our own experiences of being ‘led’ and let’s delve a bit into the memory banks.

Who was your first leader? A parent, a sibling, an adult a child, a teacher a friend in the playground a neighbourhood kid?

How did they lead? Was it through persuasion, charisma, telling, doing.

I’m not sure if she was my first leader or not, but the leader that came to mind for me was Sharon, the girl across the road. I wanted to be just like her. She was a year older than me. After school I would go to her house. I’m not sure if she thought of me as a friend or not. She was the girl who was smarter than me and I admired her. I did anything she told me. Fortunately, she didn’t abuse this power. She may not have even known she had the power. But I admired her, I learnt from her and I copied her. I may even have become a teacher because of her, because that is what we played; schools. I was the pupil she was the teacher and she taught and I learned.

Who comes to your mind? How did they lead and why were you led?

Iron fist? Gentle guiding? Inspiring to be greater or demanding?

The term leadership team is one we are hearing more and more? How does that look as distinct to the models of the solitary leader…

Of course just because someone is a leader doesn’t mean they are effective. Are they getting the job done are they bringing out the best in their team?!