Does your team see you as a leader? Your peers? Your boss? Do you see yourself as a leader? A leader has historically been defined as “a person that holds a dominant or superior position and is able to exercise a high degree of control over others.”

I think of my parents, who lovingly and regularly used the “Because-I-told-you-so” Command & Control leadership style. I grew up, like many of my Boomer Generation, seeing leadership as a hierarchical structure—the chain of command. Today, Command & Control doesn’t work. People may be forced to do what they’re told, but they do so begrudgingly and without a sense of purpose or passion.

What’s changed? Lots. To start, the generations that followed Boomers—the Xer’s and the Millennials, rejected command & control and demanded to be heard and involved in decisions that affect their professional and personal lives. Today leadership is often associated with the words “influence,” “inspiration,” “motivation,” and “listening.” My executive coach, Judy Campbell, described this new leadership as a “circle” hierarchy, where the leader sits on the circle and leads through influence rather than position.

Leadership Styles

In my journey to become a better leader (remember, I’m a Boomer who led by Command & Control for years….), I first transitioned to the Command & Delegate style of leadership. I asked for more feedback, listened better, delegated better… BUT still asked to be “involved” in too many decisions my team could make on their own; it was exhausting for me personally and frustrating to my teams.

So, where am I today? Still transitioning…it’s a daily journey.  I work hard to listen to understand and not to respond. I strive to teach and to mentor my teams in critical skills so they have all the tools to be successful. I try to be very clear on what success looks like, and then I hold them accountable for the results. Delivering results is still critical as a leader, but I’m working to deliver through an engaged, well-equipped team of talented professionals.