Recently, I went back to school to finish my Master’s Degree; after retirement planning… some day. Observing culture groups is one of the concepts we are covering. I have always enjoyed watching people, but now I catch myself watching on a deeper level; beyond the obvious indicators like they way they are dressed, how many are in the group, or even what they might be eating. I am seeing how they interact, who emerges as the influencers, and the processes they use as a group.
One specific characteristic I enjoy, is watching the leaders of groups. While there are many styles of leaders, I am seeing three separate styles; the out front, the guide, and the grandma.
The “out front” is the point person, they are in the lead and showing the way everyone should travel.
The “guide” is a little less obvious, but I think I see it because it reflects my style; they are alongside the group, giving information of the different choices, guiding the movement as a group member. They are influencers. The “grandma” isn’t really a member of the group, but they are motivating group decisions with their outside observations; they are the ones who prepare a plate of cookies and ask questions. Grandmas make every day routines seem like big adventures; they show interest in what you’re doing, they listen.
I got to watch some of these dynamics play out in a meeting this week. The lead presenter was the “up front” type personality; they were proposing the next big thing… but I noticed something, they were so far ahead of the group, few people showed interest in the lecture. Like a rock skipping on the water, they were 5 or 6 skips down their line of thought, before the ripples from their first skip were forming. They didn’t let their ideas sink into the group. On the breaks, I noticed the “guides” emerging.Huddled in their perspective groups, they were talking about how the presentation points would look in their context; but they were cut short on time because they had to get back in to hear the lecturer.
It wasn’t until I got home that I saw the third style of “Grandma” leader. As my wife and I sat at the table together, enjoying the great meal she had prepared, she asked, “What was your favorite part of the day?”… and listened.
What’s your leaderships style? How do you relate with the other styles? Do you take time to sink into the lives of others?