Meek Leadership

Many people often, incorrectly, believe that leadership is something that is based on image and physical attributes. Society has conditioned us to react to those who have an attractive image or possess above average physical attributes – size, strength or ability. But do these outward traits have a direct impact on how effective a person may be in a leadership position?

Typical Management Styles
I have experienced many leadership styles in my career ranging from autocratic to participative to a hands-off free reign style. It can be argued that there are circumstances and situations where each of these distinct styles has positive and negative characteristics. In each style the leader may execute their leadership responsibility with charismatic charm, a physical and overbearing presence, intellectual elitism, political savvy, etc.

The bottom-line in these examples is that the leader involved rarely showed characteristics that accrued to their long-term benefit. The charisma lasted for only a while, the overbearing presence soon wore thin and chafed many, the elite mind disenfranchised others and you can only go so far playing corporate politics. However, there were a number of people that I worked with, sold to and a few I even worked for who possessed a unique ability to promote a leadership style that I call the Meek Leader.

The Meek Leader
Meek can be quickly associated with weak. The definition of meek also has the words submissive, spineless, spiritless and gentile which reinforces the “weak” description. However, when used in the phrase “the meek shall inherit the earth” we find a different meaning for meek. In this usage we find meek is characterized by patience, control and strength.

Strength and Power
The meek leader does not use an overbearing presence or their position of power to produce results. They are patient in their approach to problem solving with others and use control and discretion when it becomes necessary to use “power” to over come an obstacle to progress.In some case a Meek Leader might be described as long-suffering where others would have taken action much earlier or have a shorter fuse before action was taken.A good example of this is the challenge of working with a high maintenance employee who has value to the organization but requires a major investment of time and patience getting them to focus and operate effectively. This long-suffering example produces many positive lessons to those around them on how the leader would handle a concern over their performance in order to salvage a valuable employee.
Some leaders resort to the use of anger as a management technique (i.e. intimidation) to accomplish their goals. However, this is another example of poor control. Showing anger is not a sign of strength but loosing control. The angry leader pushes people away. As a result they do not cultivate relationships with many people. People keep their distance from them and close working situations with them.
Pride – focus on self – can undermine the value of a leader to the organization. Pride can be manifested in at least two ways. The first is how it blinds the leader to input that they should recognize and respond to. The second is how it steals the enthusiasm from a team when the leader is consumed by seeking credit for what others are doing in the team.

The Meek manager is able to control their use of Strength and Power, Anger and Pride. Ironically in many organizations these are traits that are often associated with “success”. In my experience few leaders demonstrating these behavior attributes win in the long term. They may have short-term success but very few earn the golden ring that they seek.

Leaders who succeed and win the golden ring have the meek leadership traits that are necessary for executive success. They are regarded for their patience, trusted by those who work for them, and easily express humility when it comes to who is responsible for the success of the team.

Don’t let yourself or others equate “meek” with “weak” when it comes to leadership attributes.

It is the Meek Leader who will win the “golden ring” and inherit the corner office.

Author’s Note: Please click here to request information on the Leadership Workshop assessment of your orgnization.

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