Leadership Styles Part 1: Raging Rapids or Calm Water?

Rafting4_ArkansasRiver_MIEvery leader has a style or a preference.  I want to look at a couple of examples of different styles this week just to get you thinking.

Here’s the first one:  Raging Rapids or Calm Water?

I remember someone painting this picture for me years ago.

I reflected on a time that I was riding a river in South America with my dad and friends in inner tubes.  We had charted the river, created a plan, and then jumped into the river. The current was moving much quicker than we had anticipated. We were tossed out of our tubes, we lost our supplies, we went over waterfalls, we were smashed on the rocks, and we had a blast! It was pure adventure, and as a 17 year-old, this was the greatest!

There were times on the ride that the water was calm and those times were wonderful, however the adrenaline really kicked in when we were rushing down the river.

We left the water after a 13-hour journey, and while we were exhausted and grateful to be alive, it was exhilarating!

Leadership is many times like a river.

There are times when the water moves slowly, that’s its calm and somewhat safe. When you float down that kind of river you have time to look around and enjoy the scenery, you have time to talk to others that are floating with you, and while you don’t feel that your life is in danger, there is a spirit of adventure and excitement. This is a great ride!

There are also times when the river is raging. It’s moving, it’s crushing, it’s a little unpredictable, and it’s a ride! The risk is a little higher. Panic is often you’re first response when the river pushes you someplace you don’t want to go. There’s danger in that you don’t know what’s around the next corner, and you’re so focused on just surviving and getting through the ride that you don’t notice what’s going on around you. You’re completely focused. This too, is a great ride!

What kind of ride do you prefer? Where do you feel most comfortable?

In the calm river:

– You tend to be in control

– You usually know exactly where you’re going and how you’re going to get there

– There’s some risk, but it’s calculated risk and you’re pretty sure that you’ll make it

In the raging river:

– You are often out of control

– You don’t always know what’s coming, but you’re excited to find out

– There’s much risk, but the reward of making it is exhilarating

One kind of river isn’t better than the other, but it’s important for every leader to know how they’ll respond when they are faced with the challenges and opportunities these different rides bring.

Often as leaders, we will face both kinds, and many times we need the calm in order to survive the raging.  There is balance here. But don’t you know people who prefer to always stay in the calm, safe water? Don’t you know people who don’t know how to do anything but ride the raging current?

What’s your style?  Where do you feel most comfortable?

What about your team… Where do each of them feel most comfortable?

This is a great conversation and it will help your team and your organization.

Leadership Styles Part 1

3 thoughts on “Leadership Styles Part 1: Raging Rapids or Calm Water?”

  1. Pingback: Your Leadership Style is your Strength | Lead On ~ eSource

  2. Pingback: Leadership Styles III: Deep or Wide? | Lead On ~ eSource

  3. Pingback: Leadership Styles Part II: Settler or Pioneer? | Lead On ~ eSource

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