Armory has more than tripled in size over the past year, and as we've grown, I and my executive team and managers – and indeed the entire company– have been doing a lot of thinking and evolving on what it means to be a leader within a hypergrowth environment while building a Roundabout Culture.
As I watch the people in our company flourish as leaders, I'm amazed by how broad a spectrum of leadership types I see. There is no single, binary definition of a good leader. Every individual has a different leadership brand they can foster and deepen, and it's my job to encourage them to do it.
Some leaders are flourishing as coaches, motivating, inspiring and encouraging those around them. I see others growing as strategic leaders, doing an unusually good job of anticipating future needs and making decisions in the present to meet those needs. Some are excellent team leaders, eliciting incredibly deep loyalty from close-knit teams. Yet others are servant leaders, channeling the majority of their energy into finding ways that they can help others be more effective. And that's not nearly a complete list of leadership styles I see at Armory day-to-day.
And it gets even more complex than going beyond a myopic view of "good or bad" leadership, because there are larger external factors at play for any company that will determine which leadership styles are most effective at various points in time, such as whether the company is in peacetime or wartime. As Ben Horowitz wrote in Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO:
"Peacetime CEO focuses on the big picture and empowers her people to make detailed decisions. Wartime CEO cares about a speck of dust on a gnat’s ass if it interferes with the prime directive."
"Peacetime CEO spends time defining the culture. Wartime CEO lets the war define the culture."
"Peacetime CEO strives for broad based buy in. Wartime CEO neither indulges consensus-building nor tolerates disagreements."
And beyond the external market conditions, as I write in this post, there is also a deep behavioral science interplay behind concepts like Power, Reputation and Influence as they relate to leadership and culture-building internally. Niels Pflaeging does a good job describing these in "Organizational Physics:"
The epic struggle between Formal Structure and the two other structures that make up Org Physics is one of the key sources of reduced organizational effectiveness, diminished complexity-robustness, and lack of innovation we find today in most companies.
All of this is to say that leadership is complex and multi-faceted based on many personal, internal and external company factors. What I've learned is that the most important thing I can do is to foster an environment in which everyone can explore their own definition of what being a good leader means to figure out what their most effective leadership brand will be.
What does your leadership brand look like?
My best advice to help you figure out what your personal leadership brand looks like would be to start by asking yourself,
What's my superpower? Everyone has a superpower, although some people develop it more intentionally than others. Your superpower is something that you can do better than anyone else you know. And importantly, it's something you gain more energy from doing, vs. feeling drained.
Once you think you know what your superpower is, focus on developing and deepening it every day. Over time, others will start to notice your superpower and become curious about it. Some people will see your superpower as a way to develop and build theirs, too. Your leadership brand is simply the application of using your superpower to help those around you develop theirs.