Article Date: 11/1/2005

5_05 Viewpoint

Jim Thomas

What Kind of Leader Are You?
Optometrists can get results by avoiding styles and seeking sound solutions.

How should leaders get results? Judging by the hundreds of books, C.D.s, videotapes and seminars that are generated by leadership gurus each year, we aren't closing in on one answer.

Most agree that effective leadership styles fall into a number of categories that include:

The style conundrum

Can you choose one style of leadership over another? Imagine trying to demand that an employee "pursue an uncompromising path of excellence" when that employee feels overworked and underappreciated. Conversely, imagine trying to save someone from an oncoming bus by asking them how they feel.

These examples illustrate that the approach to leadership depends on the situation, the people in the organization and the leader.

In recent years, the idea of emotional intelligence — the ability to manage relationships effectively — has received its share of press. Emotional intelligence, or EI, emphasizes the concept that one leader requires a number of leadership styles to achieve long-term, consistent results. This is a challenge because most of us are led to a leadership style that conforms to our personality and is consistent with our experience.

How do you choose?

The ability to choose the correct style requires that leaders display self awareness and self-management. Leaders earn trust and present a positive self-image, even in high-pressure situations. They are also aware of other's needs and abilities as well as the needs of their organization and its customers (or patients).

The last critical capability is social skills. Do you know how to influence those on your staff? Can you inspire change while managing conflict? Can you facilitate teamwork as you develop individual skills? Can you build relationships and promote cooperation? Have you presented a vision? By answering these questions, leaders can get a clearer picture of how to operate more effectively and ultimately benefit the entire organization.

Log on to the online version of "Viewpoint" at for additional information on EI.

Optometric Management, Issue: November 2005