Is there only “one ideal profile” for leadership?

willian_bullAn article by Willian Bull, partner at Instituto Pieron, Sao Paulo


It is very common to find behavioral approaches to the leadership role referring exclusively to certain “ideal profiles”, or to a certain psychological type as the most suitable for the leadership role.

I think so. There are certain traits (“background skills or internal resources”) that have correlation with the propensity for the role of a managerial leader. However, not less important, and independent of such traits, the nature of the leadership role requires the practice of some foundations.

Leadership can express itself in many ways, given the multiple facets of the human being, but it must have basic aspects, critical for the leader to be efficient.

These foundations are important to the leadership, as the “service” is to the volleyball player, for example. In court, each player knows his/her position, knows what to do and how to contribute to the team. And he/she can do that, many times, with a certain amount of personal creativity. But everyone has to “know how to serve”. And they know that, regardless of their own style to serve , if the ball touches the ground, he/she will score for his/her team. Not more than a point. This gives the orientation for the result all should have. So, to be excellent in this foundation, the player has to train, train and train. He/she can use his/her own style, but he/she has to score.

Once said Bernardinho (volleyball coach and Brazilian National Volleyball Team Champion a few times), “the will to train has to be greater than the will to win”. So, the result is, or should be, a result of its application. It is evident that capability, individual talent, passion for what one does and other factors the player does not control and that can affect the individual results as well as the collective one and the game’s final result must be added to that.

It is not different with a professional that performs alone or in teams. It is not different with the managerial leadership. The leader needs to find the “optimal point” in the relationship with people with whom he/she interacts to jointly reach results. Each one in his/her role and all very well trained on the foundations of their own job.

At this point, I risk saying that the managerial leader has an “O Point”” – meaning the balance among some skills and their effective practice. And to “get there””, he/she needs to train, train hard and train always.

There are some foundations he/she needs to practice, regardless of having this or that personality trait, this or that taste, style or personal preference.

Considering that the managerial leader has a certain position because he/she made that choice, likes it and has capacity to do so, he/she needs to have as foundations of his/her role:

  1. Build and maintain a relationship of trust with people.
  2. Recognize that people want to know what is expected from them and how this fits in the general picture of his/her area and company.
  3. Ensure that people regularly understand about their own performance.
  4. Provide resources, authority and facilitate the development of people to get the job done.

To the professional that seeks excellence, it is useless to wish to achieve results if it is not based on a lot of dedication and passion. In the same way, it is useless for the managerial leader to wish to manage and work hard to “fit into a certain ideal profile”, if he/she doesn’t have a lot of dedication and passion for his/her role.


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