Leadership Style: Pack Leader

[Part 5 of a 6 part ongoing series] There are many different types of people in the world, and many different types of leaders.  Unfortunately, most do irreparable harm to those they surround themselves with.  But, what are the different kinds of leaders?  What, if anything, can we take from them?  And is there a better approach to leading people?  Take a look. Styles already covered: Lone Wolf , Trophy Hunter, Ringleader , Taskmaster

Like a pack of wolves, many of us know that if we work to our strengths and cooperate in synergy, there is very little we can’t accomplish.  The pack leader firmly believes this.  And, for the most part, this is true.  Their focus is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each individual on their team, assess best fit, and surround themselves with people who can fill every need of the organization.

At first glance, this is amazing, and what many business schools are now promoting as an avant garde approach to teambuilding.  Allow people to do what they do best.  Fill in the gaps with others who are best suited for those positions.  It’s an idea that says “use your best and leave the rest”.

While a great idea for developing the organization and raising your companies to greater heights, the toll on the individuals is like a nearly imperceptible virus.  Unfortunately, while this type of leader coordinates great teams to do great things, what it creates is a symbiotic, parasitic relationship between each individual and the team.  Focusing exclusively on your strengths and having no development in becoming more well-rounded creates specialists in every field.  But studies will show you that the movers and shakers of the world are generalists.  In his introduction of the iPad in 2010, Steve Jobs said the following:

“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough.  It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”

Or consider the following:

“Entrepreneurs must be generalists. To start a company, whether it specializes in building construction or Internet services, requires a variety of skills.” – Edward Lazear, Professor of Human Resources Management and Economics at Stanford University in a 2005 study of Stanford MBA alumni

Here’s the rub when it comes to the team and the individuals.  What happens if one of the members of the team leaves?  They have been coached into believing that they are an organism that requires each member to work to its optimal capacity.  What happens when one of those parts is missing?  It becomes an adapt or die mentality.  Everyone has worked so meticulously on their areas of focus that they have no idea the detail that was put in by the now missing member.  What’s worse, any attempt to bring in someone new to fill the void is often met with unfulfilled expectations because the rapport and connection with the existing team just isn’t there.

What’s more, the parasitic part of the relationship is developed to the point where the organization cannot operate properly (and sometimes even survive), nor can the individual operate and succeed apart from each other. The situation becomes one of both requiring the other in order to move forward.  This leaves the team members feeling stuck in a place where there may be plenty of opportunity to run in their lane (which is a good thing) but where they may have already reached their ceiling in terms of potential for growth (which is a very bad thing).

I need you to know, the pack leader truly believes they are doing the right thing.  They want to see people grow, to develop, and for the people to be successful because the team is successful.  And for the most part, they are so close, we can almost give them a pass.

What the pack leader is missing, however, is incredibly vital to the actual development and long-term success of the individuals in their team. See, the pack leader is still focused on the organization and its long-term success.  It’s what drives them to create great teams and to develop them into such an efficient and powerful group.  But what happens if the focus of the pack leader shifts to be more intentional about developing the members of their team to be successful.  Wouldn’t that cascade into even greater success for the organization, both in the short and long term?

What do you think of the Pack Leader? Where do they hit the mark and where do they fall short, in your opinion?  Share your ideas and stay tuned for the conclusion of the series next week!

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