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Two Leadership Types, But Only One Successful Leader

As seen on Switch&Shift (

When I watch and research changes in the workplace, I see two different leadership types.

The first of the these leadership types notices the disruptive changes as they unfold. They observe the people in their organizations, talk and listen to three generations in their offices, follow new business books and magazines, attend conferences, and are aware the business landscape is shifting. Instead of resisting changes they look for ways to embrace them.

The Heart-Centered Leader

They are visionary people who always try to do the right thing. Even if that means altering the way they do business or making new investments. They know many norms accepted for 150+ years do not make stakeholders happy anymore. These leaders value people more than daily business tasks that need to be done and understand people appreciate being treated like human beings. These leaders are happy to change their organizations to flat structures, are OK to let their people make their decisions and even form self-managed teams that need them less.

They know when the purpose of the company matches the purpose of the people who work there, amazing results can happen. Like Richard Branson defines it, this type of leader knows one element of creating a humanistic environment is Purposeful Leadership. It is the type of leaders Simon Sinek talks about in his amazing book Start with Why. These businesses are productive; people are more engaged and loyal. I call these leaders heart-centered leaders.

Then there is the second type of leaders.

The Control-Centered Leader

They still believe in controlling and managing people to get better results; if people are left alone to make decisions, the workplace will be chaotic. They think people cannot be trusted and must be at the office to do a good job.

The reality is this way of leading does not work anymore. In this command-and-control type of organization, the turnover rate is increasing, and the engagement rate is decreasing. The leaders in these organizations have no idea how the workplace is changing; they don’t listen to their stakeholders, don’t ask their clients for good feedback, and still insist on using old ways of managing.

Lost Productivity

Lost productivity cost these organizations an estimated $350 billion annually. They will spend $750,000 to $1 billion to fix the problem, yet many executives do not understand how employees become disengaged. The monetary cost bothers them most. Like the first type of leaders described above, they also realize the need for change. But in this group it’s only because they are forced to do so. It is not based on the urge to do the right thing, but of necessity to fix the red in their bottom line. They don’t ask for help right away either because they are still have a mindset that “help” means they are weak or they don’t know what they’re doing. So they fall behind in this fast-paced world while the first type of leaders move forward by embracing the new norms.

A study of nearly 20,000 employees found 54 percent feel they’re not respected by their leaders. When asked to respond to this claim, 25 percent of these leaders explained they were simply following the example of other leaders in the company. It is not that they are “bad” leaders. They simply are stuck in the old mindset. I call them control-centered leaders.

The Future of These Leadership Types

The workplace is changing dramatically. The heart-centered leadership types who are willing to let go of their egos, have high emotional intelligence, and try to do the right thing will succeed faster, and it will be easier for them to make the transition. Why? Because they understand the real purpose behind these changes. Their leadership will be more authentic. Their stakeholders will follow them willingly knowing they have everyone’s best interest in mind.

As seen on Switch&Shift (

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