Chameleons With A Heart: A Portrait Of More Human Leadership

Business woman balancing on rope“Nowadays, leaders need to wear many hats. They need to be able to develop both the human side and product side of a business – if you have just one or the other, you greatly limit yourself and the success of your business.” – Ilona Jerabek,

There’s no doubt great more human leadership is a delicate balancing act, between the two most important elements of the equation – the business, and the humans who function within it.

The leaders that can pull that act off, and become what I call the “chameleon with a heart”, will be the most successful.

It isn’t easy.   We wonder if we are too hard, or too soft, or too middle of the road.      We worry that we’re wearing the wrong hat.    Our heart battles with our brain on a daily basis.

But the struggle is worth it, and it was confirmed once again by a study released last week by   They analyzed over 7,000 leaders and determined that those who adopted what they called an “eclectic” style, encompassing a combination of all the styles they identified, were most likely to be successful.

Here were the 3 core styles they noted:

1) “Sports Coaches” – energetic, organized, goal setter, teacher, no-nonsense & tough, strictly professional

2) “Drivers/Directors” – hands on, ambitious, focused, firm, hard-working, order-giver, rough around edges

3) “Mentors” – teacher, delegator, empathetic, people-oriented, humble, shy

We’ve all seen versions of these styles in the workplace, and while they have their strengths, they have weaknesses and limitations that limit their success – they tilt too far in either the “business” or  “human” direction.

Great leaders can take on any these styles at specific times, for specific purposes, AND for specific people, showcasing their strengths while marginalizing their weaknesses.

That’s where the heart works within the chameleon – here are just a few examples.

Being tough, but fair.

Telling the “what”, but explaining the “why”.

Being “hands-on” because they need the help, not because you don’t trust them.

Backing off and letting them take the credit.

Setting challenging goals in the context of a positive culture of accountability.

Channeling personal ambition into making a difference for a team.

Pushing hard but knowing when it’s time to pull back (and maybe even have a little fun)

In the end, it’s just being more human that drives the leader to be that chameleon, because they never forget about the importance of that balancing act.

Happy humans = Better business

Lead well!

(Photo by Bigstock)











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