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Continued from Previous……

We continue with the description of various leadership styles.

Front Line Leaders are the ones who would prefer to stay at the head of the things. They would try to face all situations directly, understand it and then transfer to team members, if considered appropriate by them. Frontline leaders are fond of show-how and would like to physically demonstrate how to handle various situations; be it a difficult customer or a big new business or a new assignment. Their desire to stay in front may be extreme at times where they may take entire credit themselves rather than putting it where it is due. In sports, these people try to spread themselves all over the ground; in work, they try to be all over the place and appear to be worrying about everything. A side-issue of Front-Line Leaders is that they do not consider anyone in the team anywhere even near to them in capability and expertise. Front-Line leaders are usually able to achieve reasonably well; the team development is patchy, and their own burnout is fast. Front-Line leadership may be a result of high showmanship at one end and severe possessiveness at the other end.

Behind-the-Line Leaders are ones who opt to stay behind the team. They would rarely come to the front to demonstrate how to handle a difficult customer or undertake a complex assignment; they would urge the team to do it. They may advise, help in planning, review their plan, find faults with the team working and so on. Another interesting behavior is not to tell what is wrong; they would keep rejecting a plan but will not tell what is wrong and ask the concerned person to find fault by herself/himself. This is an extreme behavior but not uncommon. Their logic is to push the team to learn the hard way so that they stay on toes and do not forget the lessons learned. Behind-the-lines leadership may also be due to lack of confidence in their own self and may be an effort in risk aversion. Another reason may be to retain their own comfort zone at the cost of team comfort. Behind-the-line leaders are usually good achievers; team development is good if the leader is competent, team retention may be a problem. Behind-the-line leadership may arise from a mindset of Ring Mastership at one end and no concern for people at the other end.

Invisible Leaders are the ones who have abdicated the leadership already without declaring it. They would appear less and less publicly. They would divide their own role in several parts and assign these to various team members. No one can claim leadership role because the role has been fragmented and so the manager keeps the nominal leadership title. Periodically, the Invisible Leader will review the work done and update his information for presenting to higher management. The team may carry different illusions about their role. They may consider they are running the show, which is true, but they cannot claim they are leading it. The Invisible Leader may appear to be benevolent at times and monster at other times. Invisible Leaders are seen more in places which are relatively away from central headquarters and where they are entrusted with un-interfered responsibility. Invisible Leaders usually achieve reasonably well; the team development and retention is patchy and unpredictable. Invisible Leadership mindset may arise from lack of confidence at one end and a propensity for divide and rule at the other end.

By Proxy Leaders are the ones who deliberately keep themselves away from exposure. They run the show through one or more proxies; people from within the team or even from outside. Some CEOs or other C-suite members are quite fond of it, but I have seen first line managers also doing it. The only apparent reason for Proxy Leadership is to keep a safe distance from subordinates. It gives considerable leeway to take unpopular decisions because of its inherent facelessness. The distance paradoxically creates a fear rather than freedom; fear of unknown and unpredictable. At the C-suite level, it is not too difficult to pull, but at first or middle level management it is a great feat to do so. A classic example of a Field Manager doing so is the one who designates one person and tells the team to tell him whatever they have to. The FM himself keeps away from daily/weekly meetings and will make appearance only on selected occasions. It creates an aura of superior busyness and keeps the manager at a considerable distance from team. How would the discipline and achievement be ensured? By sending messages through the proxy. While Proxy Leadership may still extract achievement out of team, the team development and engagement never happen. Team retention does not even appear to be on the agenda. Proxy Leadership may be a product of secretiveness at one end and scorn for people at the other end.

We may think that the management in Pakistan is very far from what the modern concepts recommend. Rest assured, we are not alone. It is the same situation all over the world. The difference is in resources. In the developed world, the organizations have more resources and the greater number of outside sources are available to tap into. The stakes are high for transnational/ multinational companies, the operational area is most of the world, the volumes are enormous, and they are forced to resort to external help. Big blunders are still reported every day. For small and medium enterprises which are always privately owned, the rules of the game are set by the top management and followed by the rest. Even the young, decently qualified individuals resort to unqualified methods of management. In older businesses, the new generation is inducted, oriented and trained in perpetuating the corporate working style.

If it is so, why are we talking about Holistic Management? Is it an illusion? Is it a fantasy? Is it not just a waste of time and effort? Do we even know what Holistic Management is?

Next, we shall define Holistic Management in detail and then argue about its applicability.

Shall Continue InshaAllah……

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