As leaders we are often asked to articulate our leadership style. What would happen if you were asked to describe your leadership style through one of the four elements: earth, fire, wind or water?
I’ve asked this question to many groups of leaders over the last ten years. I’m starting to see some interesting patterns emerge. In general…
Earth Leaders- Tend to be very grounded and focus on executing tasks.
Fire Leaders– Tend to be the ignition or “fire starters” in an organization. They like to energize people and start new initiatives.
Water Leaders– Tend to be adaptable and can adapt and adjust depending on the situation. Just like water changes form based on temperature, these leaders also adapt to the conditions and people surrounding them.
Air Leaders– Tend to be big thinkers, they see endless possibilities. They have blue sky visions and are intrigued by strategy.
I’ve asked both Earth and Air Leaders to discuss their challenges and successes in working together. More often than not, the Earth Leaders think Air Leaders are “too lofty, too many ideas” and the Air Leaders think the Earth Leaders just want to get things done. And yet, they agree they need each other to balance out the big ideas with the getting tasks done.
I’ve done the same with Fire and Water Leaders. Fire leaders tend to think Water Leaders are too adaptable. Water Leaders tend to think Fire Leaders are too eager to start things but not consider all the conditions. They agree they need each other in new initiatives to look at all phases of a project and consider not only the project but also the people.
Organizations need Earth, Wind, Fire and Water Leaders. They also need them to collaborate; to find ways to work together from a place of interdependence. Just as the elements of our planet are interdependent; so too are the different leadership styles of our organizations.
What is your Earth Element? What are your strategies for working with the other elements? I’m excited to explore leadership through these lenses. Please share your ideas with me.