By Les McKeown (2014)
The most effective manner in which to lead from within is to do so in the spirit of contribution.
Working well with others primarily involves mastering difficult conversations, conflict management, communication skills and inclusiveness.
Leading from within requires two things to work: first, that you have a meaningful contribution to make (more on that in a moment), and second, that your contribution is made in a natural, unenforced manner that flows seamlessly with the ongoing discussion the team is having, and comes from a place of authority within you.
Where does this ‘place of authority’ come from? Primarily, it comes from your natural leadership style. Visionaries have their greatest impact when they’re operating in their Visionary style (watch a risk-taking, swing-for-the-fences Visionary try to contribute to a grind-it-out, highly detailed Processor discussion and you’ll see the vet definition or someone out of their depth).
Operators are most comfortable discussing pragmatic issues around execution. Less comfortable with generating big ideas, Operators excel in identifying the simplest, most effective ways to get things done. If you’re an Operator at heart, look for opportunities to help lead your team when the discussion turns to implementation and execution.
There will be occasions when the equilibrium of the wider group may need to be sacrificed…
All of which is to make the point that many people get this distinction entirely wrong, and start from the basis that the purpose if leadership is to build a happy, collegial team.
Watch a truly effective leader at work, and you’ll see someone with a heightened awareness if what their real priorities are.