Leadership and labels

I took a course on leadership this week.  Four mdules: leadership philosophies, leadership styles, followership and leadership paradoxes.

I disliked the first day of the course.  There were three reasons.  First I tend to be quiet in new situations and I felt that to be effective in the course I should be more outgoing and so I was annoyed with myself.  Secondly, the facility, while having disabled access was an old converted seminary and the access was skin deep.  Getting around and using the kitchen and washrooms was a challenge.  But the teacher, staff and students were very helpful.  Third, the course involved many activities.  In the first day’s activities I was only able to partially participate.  Partly it was due to my disability and partly because I could not see an effective approach to the problems.  Again, I was annoyed with myself.

The 2nd day of the course was much better.  I was better prepared to deal with all three obstacles.  I participated more and made constructive contributions to the day’s activities.

However, I am deeply conflicted about the course itself.  The two main modules were about identifying your leadership style(s) and the types of followers you have.  I’ve been deeply conditioned to believe that applying labels to myself or others is always a mistake.  A person is always more complex than the set of attributes that are bundled under a label.  But once you have a label for something you tend to stop looking for those other complexities.  In the worst cases you find yourself interacting with the label instead of a person.  When applied to yourself, you can unconsciously limit yourself to options that fit your perception of belonging to your label.

So when we spend to days trying to find the labels that apply to ourselves and those we lead, my first instinct it to just throw the whole thing away.

The information on leadership styles was a bit more nuanced.  The focus there was not to identify your leadership style, but more to identify those ones at which you are weak so that you can further develop them.  The course also emphasized that style is situational and needed to be shifted from task to task.

But the followership was very much label based and I do not see how I will effectively use it.


Next week?  Back to the normal grind.  Yay!


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