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Leaders Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Here we go again, back to the polls. I think the evening news has well-established that most of us aren't very excited about it. In my case, I lament the spending of astronomical amounts of money on elections rather than on children and families.

Over the past few weeks I have had several conversations about the upcoming provincial and now national elections. Naturally the subject of leadership came up more than once. It is not uncommon to hear people talk about the need for leadership, the lack of leadership, the leadership qualities of one candidate over another, and at times the question "What is leadership?"

Well, there are many different styles of leadership from which to choose. I thought you might enjoy hearing about the top 10 (in no particular order).


First is biology-based with the leader the alpha male with the most testosterone. This leader rules with a sense of entitlement from his place at head of the pack.

Next is the "might is right" approach. In this model, leadership is all about power and the one with the most power rules. In an organization, this translates into a top-down model. They still exist but fortunately there are fewer of them.

The paternalistic model views the leader as the brightest and the most virtuous. The leader can do no wrong and as such is often the object of adoration and admiration. Most leaders in this impossible situation eventually fall off the pedestal and everyone is horrified.

In the contingency model everything depends on the situation. This sounds good on the surface but essentially it is it about the end justifying the means. Leaders employ different things and use different styles to achieve the goal, often using manipulation to get what they want.

The charismatic leader is most often about the natural-born leader. People are drawn to the leader like moths to a light. There are positive and negative examples in history of charismatic leadership. Jim Jones had charisma, as did Mother Teresa and Princess Diana. Charismatic leaders tend to be filled with conviction about their cause and the cause itself can be the Achilles heel of this brand of leadership.

Then we have the historical determination model, where the times create the leader. Quite often political leaders perceive crisis or the need to rebuild as their cue to step into a leadership role.

Transaction-based leadership is a deal-making leadership style in which followers act in their own interest, having made a deal with the leader to get what they want out of the process.

Reason-based leadership is about following a leader with ideas and consensus-based leadership is a co-op movement that incorporates common needs that followers share.

Finally, we have values-based leadership. These leaders create conditions that enable followers to solve their own problems. In this model, values dictate policy. It is often put forward as the most desirable, although the jury is still out.

Do you recognize anyone on the political landscape?