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Addressing the Irony: Three Styles of Leadership

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Several conclusions regarding appropriate time and place can be extracted from these five criteria. First, the vision statement should be offered alongside clearly articulated statements regarding mission, values and purposes. These four dimensions of what I label the “intentions” of an organization are tightly interwoven (as an organizational charter) and modifications in one will inevitably impact on the other three. The vision itself should build on many conversations, the sharing of stories (not just the visionary leader’s stories) and the identification of moments of “greatness” in the past history and present realities of the organization. Visions come alive and help guide an organization when they are generated and articulated under these conditions (place and time).

The Challenges and Irony of Visionary Leadership

If a compelling vision is generated, then what do we do about it? We must do more than applaud the visionary speech-giver. We must do more than walk away, inspired to do good –for at least a day or week. So-called “motivational” speakers provide a welcome respite from the daily grind, but they rarely have long term impact. As was the case with the two other styles of leadership, the neurosciences offer an important clue. Recent research regarding the hormonal system in the human body points to the important role played not just by adrenaline (critical in the Style Two Leadership focus on fighting and fleeing from the enemy), but also by oxytocin, a hormone that brings us closer together rather than leads us to fight or flee. Oxytocin is a “bonding” agency. It is critical to the production of love and hope in human beings. It is the hormone that surges in women (and even in men) when a child is about to be born. It is the primary physiological ingredient which turns (to use Martin Buber’s phrase) an “I-It” relationship into an “I-Thou” relationship (Buber, 2000).

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