Paths of Leadership

From my experience, you get two main categories into which leaders fall into, the results driven and the "bear huggers". I'm sure that you have come across both types in your career, but lets dig into each of them a bit more.

"Bear Huggers"

The "bear huggers" are the people who invest a lot of time into the relationship of their team. As a result, they manage to build up a lot of trust with their people by listening to them and providing feedback so that you can grow. They are focused on creating a strong team through empathy, but as a result they might not reach all of their goals as they try to protect the team too much.

Results Driven

As you can probably guess, these types of leaders aren't focused on the softer side of things and tend to just focus on the end goal. As with the "bear huggers", they to care about being good managers and building strong teams, they just approach the problem from a different direction. As they have very little focus on the softer sides of things, people in their team tend not to blossom.

What Is Your Job As A Leader?

One of the main things that a leader should be doing is as follows:

A leader should maximize the investment that a company makes in a team

As a result of this, the following are some of the desired outcomes that a leader should be able to bring out in their team:

  • People being accountable for their work
  • Higher quality work with you managing and mentoring them
  • Focusing on the right work & not getting distracted as often.

As you can see the above items are a mixture of the strengths of the "bear huggers" and results driven leaders.

The Problems With Each Approach

The team members of the "bear huggers" team typically love their leader. The team has a strong sense of team spirit, but because the leaders focus to much on the relationships they tend to either protect their team from criticism, or soften the criticism given to them. As a result the team members don't hold themselves accountable for their work and may not always achieve their goals.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the results driven leader focuses on excellent output from the team members. The team members may start to model themselves to be like the leader and even say that they appreciate being pushed. However, this can cause the team members to become passive aggressive, or even slightly abusive. They typically also see empathy as a form of weakness and value "being honest". As a result, you will find that productivity starts to be ruined and the team turnover increases dramatically. Creativity and collaboration also start to disappear and a toxic culture starts to spread within the team.

Play To Your Strengths

You can probably tell if you lean more to the "bear hugger" or results driven type of leadership. My suggestion would be to play to your leadership style strength, but also incorporate a bit of the other style as well. In my experience, it is very hard to strike a perfect balance between the two as you tend to lean more towards the one side. By doing this, you just push yourself out of your comfort zone and by focusing a bit on the other leadership style, you will also start to gain the benefits that they provide.

So go ahead, dabble a bit in the opposite leadership style. At the end of the day it will make you a better leader.

Until next time...keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

South Africa