The Oracle – Leadership Styles – Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of Leadership Styles – The Oracle

The late, great and inspirational Steve Jobs (Founder of Apple)  made a statement that neatly introduces The Oracle leadership style:

‘Leaders are fascinated by the future, you are a leader if, and only if, you are restless for change, impatient for progress, and deeply dissatisfied with the status quo. As a leader you are never satisfied with the present, because in your head you can see a better future, and the friction between what is and what could be burns you, stirs you, propels you forward.’

The OracleBusiness leaders do not generally have a crystal ball to predict the future of their business and guide them in their leadership decisions. The Oracle creates his / her own future vision for their business, organisation or people. Whereas some people look at the future and ask ‘why?’, the Oracle sees things that do not exist and asks ‘why not?’. They have the ability to see social and market trends and create a future. They literally can see things others cannot.

The Oracle is also capable of enlisting large numbers of followers through their passion and use of language. They are generally gifted speakers and have high levels of charisma.

If you haven’t heard or read Martin Luther King’s – ‘I have a dream….’, or JFK’s – ‘We choose to go the moon…‘, or Winston Churchill’s – ‘We shall fight on the beaches‘, you really should! Three hugely visionary speeches that instil passion, emotion and desire to be part of something big. The power of The Oracle.

The Oracle leadership style is often most effective when an organisation needs to make a step change in direction.

They often portray the following characteristics:
  • Creates an inspiring vision of how the future will look.
  • Inspires people to understand the larger purpose of their work.
  • Creates an environment where people feel pride in belonging to the organisation.
  • Operates from an inspiring set of shared core values and beliefs
  • Engages people in working towards a shared vision
  • Encourages people to innovate, experiment and take calculated risks in pursuit of the vision.
  • Aligns performance and strategy with the vision.

The Oracle is most effective when:

  • A new vision or clear direction is needed, e.g. when in a period of change – at an individual or organisational level.
  • The leader believes in the vision; and sees it as being in tune with his / her own values and those of the organisation.
  • The leader is self-confident, self-aware and empathic to others.

The Oracle is least effective when:

  •  The leader is not regarded as credible, i.e. others feel they know more about the organisation than the leader.
  • When overplayed, i.e. if trying to steal power from a team-based approach.

Summary

When effective, the Oracle motivates individuals by focussing their attention on the long-term goals of the organisation; and how each individual contributes to its delivery. When not used effectively this style fails to take into account the natural talents and experience of the knowledgeable team members.

The Oracle is the most charismatic of Leaders and comes in many forms and contexts. According to the many books and blogs on the topic of leadership, The Oracle is the person who, to a large extent, single-handedly formulates a winning vision of where and how the organisation is to be in the future and who takes prime responsibility for ensuring that the organisation’s people ‘live’ the vision.

Would love to hear your feedback!

Be sure to read part 4 of Leadership Styles – The Collaborator

Other posts in the Leadership Style Series – The Terminator and The Coach

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Top 3 Qualities of a Leader

Thanks to all of you that contributed to my recent poll on Leadership Qualities. The results are in, and the top 3 qualities voted for by Think Oak! followers are:Leader, Leadership, Qualities

1. Great Communicator

Great leaders know how to deliver their message in a way that will create a lasting impact on the people who are listening to them. They are also great listeners. I’ve met many ‘leaders’ that really haven’t grasped the ability to listen effectively. They are too busy thinking about what to say next and they fail to grasp the valuable feedback and ideas that are given to them. Poor communication nearly always results in a poor decision and the end result is a poor outcome.

Powerful, effective leaders know when to talk, when to listen, when to observe – and use all the vital communication skills of leadership well.

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” –Ken Blanchard

2. Visionary

Visionaries who are successful at delivering their goals base their leadership on a new positive future they have created within their mind, as well as a clear sense of direction as to how to get there. A visionary leader is good with actions as well as words, and so can bring his/her vision into being in the world.

Steve Ballmer (Microsoft) once said that shortly after he joined the company, he was having second thoughts. Bill Gates and Gates’ father took Ballmer out to dinner and said he had it all wrong. They said Ballmer saw his role as that of a bean counter for a startup. They had a vision of putting a computer on every desk, in every home. That vision — a computer on every desk, in every home—remains consistent to this day.

3. Integrity

As a leader, you only can prove your integrity by the actions that you take and the decisions that you make. Integrity speaks by itself and it reflects on all your actions and decisions.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes on Leadership by Peter Drucker:

‘Leadership is not magnetic personality, that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not “making friends and influencing people”, that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.’

Leadership Poll

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. What qualties make a leader? I’ve given a few options, but feel free to add your own. I’d be really keen to get your input!

Thanks in advance….

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