Thursday, June 16, 2011

leadership style - elinor or marianne?

It's vacation time, and I am spending most of my time reading - and, of course, thinking about leadership. These next few blogs will be shorter in nature, reflecting on what I am reading or doing at the time, and attempting to connect that which I read, see or do to leadership.

I decided that after 50+ years of reading, it was time to pick up a Jane Austen novel, so I read (on my Kindle) Austen's Sense and Sensibility this past week. For 19th century chick-lit, it was not too bad - the interplay between the two sisters Elinor and Marianne kept me engaged and made for some good humor throughout.

As I finished the book, it struck me that the two sisters made for a good comparison in leadership styles - the eldest (Elinor) seemed more cool-headed and rational in her decision making process; whereas the middle sister (Marianne) was often less rational and made decisions from what her heart was feeling at the moment. I found myself often siding with Elinor in her decision making process, but came to realize that Marianne often would make the decision that most reflected what REALLY needed to be done. As I consider my personal leadership style, I think it is a combination of the two, with a slight leaning toward a Marianne-style of leadership. I often "feel it" in my gut and speak my mind quickly (maybe more quickly than I should at times). The need to ACT in a manner that reflects what I am thinking and feeling at the time seems to take precedence over my thinking the matter through and waiting to act (or not).

There are positives and negatives to both styles - leaders at times need to act from their gut-feelings, moving quickly and making decisions that may or my not seem rational at the time. In other ocassions, leaders need to take some time to think through the situation at hand and wait for the right time to act. Seldom are there set rules on which manner or style of leadership to use at any one time...nor are the consequences tied to acting in one way or the other. Part of the decision making process comes through time and experience - part of the decision making process comes through the type of decisons being made - part of the decision making process happens as a result of the seriousness of the consequences from the decision - and part of the decision making process is a result of one's demeanor and personality. Learning to live with that - and finding ways to balance out one's initial reactions when needed - are all part of learning how to lead.

I'm wondering what Austen novel to read next (that would probably be next year) - any suggestions would help...especially if you can relate your suggestion to something I can learn about leadership.

1 comment:

Sherrah said...

While I like Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion is my favorite of Jane Austen's books. And you could definitely make some leadership connections with it. The main character once let herself be led by someone she trusts and respects to make a decision she didn't want to make...and now she's dealing with the consequences....