This article was based on episode 227 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Members of the Modern Manager community get two months of Fast Forward membership for free. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.
There’s no one-size-fits-all leadership approach. Different circumstances require different skills. Different people naturally have different strengths. Yet, according to Robert Jordan’s research, there are four common leadership styles that we can leverage to build a successful career.
Robert is the CEO of InterimExecs, which matches top executives with companies around the world. After spending years meeting with thousands of top managers, Robert noticed a glaring trend. All of these leaders fell into one of four distinct camps; fixers, artists, builders, and strategists (or FABS). Based on his research with these leaders, Robert and Olivia Wagner wrote Right Leader Right Time: Discover Your Leadership Style for a Winning Career and Company.
Robert shares the four FABS leadership styles, how to discover your own, and how to bring these findings to your team for better cohesion and collaboration.
THE 4 FABS LEADERSHIP APPROACHES
While we all possess elements of each of the leadership styles, most of us have a dominant style that feels most natural. The archetypes represent a set of strengths, motivators, and contexts by which leaders of that like perform at their best.
The Fixer is drawn to broken organizations and burning problems. They thrive in crisis, helping to get everything back in better working order.
The Artist views their work/project as a blank canvas. They are the one that’s a renegade, willing to say or try things that others won’t.
The Builder wants to bring a team/client from small to big. A Builder gets bored once the scale is achieved and instantly looks for the next growth challenge. Builders thrive in small teams and small projects that aim for market domination.
The Strategist loves working with large, complex teams. Building personal relationships is not their main focus. They have a strong loyalty to their company and seize mentorship opportunities.
DISCOVER YOUR STYLE TO BUILD YOUR FUTURE
If you’re just starting out in management, you may have no idea what approach you lean towards. That’s perfectly normal. Most leadership styles are discovered through experience. You may not know that you’re a Fixer until you find yourself called to act in a moment of crisis. Or you may never know you’re really a Strategist at heart until you’re given the opportunity to work with a large number of people. If you stay attuned to what feels right, you will develop a coherence in your career preferences which will further guide you.
Double Down On Your Strengths
Leaders flounder when they resist leaning into their leadership preference. Robert implores us not to try to be all things for all people. You’ll just end up exhausted and ineffective. The most successful leaders are those that double down on their skills and learn how to collaborate with others of different strengths. If you know what you’re good at, you can be secure enough to allow others to take charge. Powerful leaders also regularly reject tasks that aren’t conducive to their leadership style (it’s all about saying no!).
Of course, there’s always too much of a good thing. Remember that anyone could use their strengths to an unhealthy extreme. A Fixer might unintentionally create problems in order to fix them. Or a Builder may want to bring a project to an unsustainable large scale. Know who you are - but also know how to check yourself that what you’re doing is really furthering the organization’s mission and not your own interests.
GET YOUR TEAM INVOLVED
Self knowledge is power. Robert offers a free, three minute leadership assessment for employees to consider their own leadership approach. Start the conversation with your staff. Ask who they think they are and create space for them to explore and share results with coworkers. The better we know our colleagues, the more we can leverage our skills to produce incredible collaborations.
Leadership is first about knowing ourselves. What do you love about your management position? The answer may come as you go about your career. Pay attention to what makes you light up inside. Are you a Fixer, an Artist, a Builder, or a Strategist? Lean into those preferences and say no to any shoulds that really aren’t your strengths. Don’t try to be all things for all people. Get your team to know who they are as well, and practice leveraging everyone’s talents to create a well balanced, effective, and fulfilled team.
KEEP UP WITH ROBERT
Right Leader website: https://www.rightleader.com/
Interim Executives website: https://interimexecs.com/
Get access to a town-hall style webinar where you can get feedback on your leadership style when you become a member of the Modern Manager community at themodernmanager.com/join.
This article was based on episode 227 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Amazon, and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.