Two Questions, One answer – Part 1

I recently took up a Sales Leadership role within the organization I work for, and if there is something that keeps me scratching my head ever since, it is the question “ How do I bring out the best in my team?“. As someone who previously managed and lead a Technical Team, I have come to appreciate how different leading a team focused more (not entirely) on individual contribution (as is the case in most sales teams world wide) is from leading technical teams who naturally would be required to prioritize collaboration over individual brilliance, among themselves, and are even incentivized through a shared target – financial or otherwise.

To help me answer this easy but not so simple question, I constantly ask and engage myself in reflections as to what my leadership style is, what it should become or it is becoming and at what pace, in order to not only set my team up for success, but also by extension succeed in my sales leadership role.

“ If you do not know how to ask the right question , you discover nothing.” ~ W. Edwards Deming

To answer and get some direction, these two questions have stood out in my head over the last few weeks and days. What is my Leadership Style? Is Direction more important than speed?

What is Your Leadership Style?

Although there are many ways of grouping or classifying Leadership Styles or Philosophies, for our sake , we will take the four styles identified by Mark Murph, founder of Leadership IQ The research identifies four types of leadership styles: Pragmatist, Idealist, Steward and Diplomat.

Like fashion, individuals have their own styles of leadership, on the one hand, there is that one default style that is prevalent and safe and most leaders would like to be associated with. On the other hand, there are numerous subtle variations or modifications that can be done and completely change the look one person goes for, from that of the other.

So what are the styles?

  • Pragmatists: These are the REDs of the Leadership personality trait (if you are familiar with Clarity 4D personality colors). Not directly mapped, but their style is characterized by being driven, competitive, and they value hitting their goals above all else.
  • Idealists: These are the ORANGEs of the Leadership 4 by 4 matrix. Idealists according to Leadership IQ are those who are high achievers who believe in everyone in the team also being able to achieve the same. Working for them provides a rather democratic experience with minimal structure and process. These are fun times leaders.
  • Stewards: These are the BLUEs. They’re dependable, loyal and helpful, and they provide a stabilizing and calming force for their employees. Stewards offer great opportunity for team success and not individual glory platforms.
  • Diplomat: These are the GREENs of Leadership. They value interpersonal harmony. Diplomats take great pride in resolving conflicts amicably or avoiding conflict all together within the teams.

As a Technical team leader, I leaned more on Diplomacy especially during my first months in the role. Having come from Outside and also having worked with a great number of those in my team before as one of them, I intentionally sought to give the respect due to those senior and more knowledgeable in our technical domain than I was as well us avoiding to come out as a boss. I needed their total support and to win their confidence that I may not have the technical expertise, but I had something to offer to the team. During times of technical crisis, I often found myself retreating to stewardship and in a number of occasions especially during recruitment of new members, I embraced my idealistic and pragmatic styles.

In the Sales role, I am increasingly finding that pragmatism can be of great importance just like diplomacy was in my previous role. However, increasingly I do find it important to be idealistic thus giving and stating the goal clearly, but remaining open minded as to how to achieve it especially during the sales process.

So what is your Leadership Style? What have you had to unlearn and relearn?

Next Week Part 2, we answer, Is Direction more important than Speed?


Ouko Joseph is a Father and a Leader in the making. A passionate student of leadership. Read more here