I was fortunate to have two years to plan for my presidency of our synagogue’s Board of Trustees. And for several years before that, I was a member of the Board and Executive Committee. Those prep years were invaluable for helping me to observe the presidents who came before and to learn about various leadership styles. One thing is clear: there is no “perfect” way to lead. As in politics, there are many different types of leaders and it is important for each to bring her unique skills and talents to the table. I do, however, have some observations about various styles. Here they are, in no particular order.
1. The Micro-Manager
We’ve all worked with and for these folks. They love to have their hand in just about every aspect of an organization and, if you’re not careful, will “check in” several times a day with staff and others to make sure things are “going okay.” This is really their attempt to control all aspects of the organization, project or event. Micro-managers can be sweet and lovable, but also very annoying. Give good direction, trust your team and then let go. If they need you, they’ll ask. If you see someone veering off course, you can always jump back in.
2. The “Hands-off” Leader
Everyone likes to say they are “very laid back,” but in practice a laid back or “hands off” leader can be difficult as well. This person, while well-meaning, is often not very confident in her abilities as a leader and, consequently, doesn’t lead. Relaxed is good, empowering others is great, but a strong leader models the behavior they want to see in their team. If your leader lacks vision and drive, if she gives no direction, things can fall apart quickly.
3. Where Does the Buck Stop?
Some people really want to be a leader, but they lack something I believe is one of the most important qualities: accountability. Regardless of who falls down on the job or which ideas don’t pan out, the leader of an organization must be willing to take responsibility. No, everything is not your fault, but making decisions and managing outcomes are key parts of being a leader. Be mindful of who is on your team and what they can deliver and manage your own expectations. When things don’t go as planned, be ready to face the music.
4. “I’m Just Not Organized”
Not everyone is a detail oriented, chart-making, list-keeping type of leader. But it is important to develop your own way of staying organized. In any organization there are many things that require attention on a daily basis. Some things are more urgent than others, but it’s important to be able to prioritize and manage time. Remember, everyone is looking to you to set the tone. If being organized is simply not your innate style, enlist the help of a trusted assistant. Just remember you cannot blame the assistant if the system breaks down. See #3 above!
5. “I Can Do It All Myself”
When I was young, my mother told me that a good leader knows when to ask for help. Along with accountability, I believe this is also one of the most important skills a leader should have. In planning for my presidency, I got to know a lot of people in the congregation and developed key relationships with people I knew I’d want on my team. For an extrovert like me, getting to know people is one of the most fun parts of being a leader. I admit I am still amazed when people agree to help or be on the team, but it is gratifying to work together toward a common goal. Do not be afraid to ask for help. No one can do it all by themselves. Those that try are doomed to either failure, or plenty of sleepless nights and frustrating days.
So there you have it, my take on leadership styles. How do you find yours? This process takes soul searching, honesty, observation and trial-and-error. If you’ve already completed this process before you take leadership, good for you! If not, remember #5 on my list: ASK FOR HELP! There are plenty of mentors out there waiting to give advice and guidance. And if you don’t have someone, contact me here at HerSavvy.com. I would love to be a part of your team!
Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation. The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors. Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com. If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.
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