Friday, September 3, 2010

Two sides of leadership

My personal trainer and friend said to me the other day, "I can tell a lot about people's work ethic by how they work out."

She went on to tell me that observing people work out says a great deal about their ambition and drive. She believes that people who work their bodies out hard are the go-getters and leaders out there.

But what about those non-athletic types out there? Does that mean that they don't have ambition and can't be a leader?

I also had a conversation with my daughter's Occupational Therapist that same day. I was telling her that my daughter is introverted and not always the one initiating conversation and play with other children. I went on to say that she often responds best when other children grab her hand and say, "come on, let's go." The therapist responded with "Oh, you mean the leaders."

But what about those introverts out there? Does that mean that they don't have a chance to be leaders?

Their perspectives on leadership aren't wrong, they are just half right.

That's right, there are two sides to leadership.

The one side we all know too well: the hard-driving, competitive, extroverted, take control, confident leader. And the often-dismissed side of leadership which is the soft-spoken, receptive, introverted, empathetic, humble leader.

The reality is that in order to be the best leader we can be, we need to draw on both sides. There is a time and place for both. In fact, extremes are never good. A leader that relies on one extreme at the expense of the other is bound to lose effectiveness.

Since most of us are trained to be the first kind of leader, my book The Connected and Committed Leader helps us see the benefits provided by the "softer" side.

And if you are the "softer" kind of leader, you have something to learn from those on the other side. In short, the best leader embodies both sides of leadership.


I found this interesting, particularly because on the fitness-front we have such extremes in our country. We have hit record levels of obesity, and yet gyms are a dime a dozen with

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