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


“Life is suffering” – the first of Buddha’s ‘Four noble Truths’

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” This phrase has always captured my attention since the first time I read M. Scott Peck’s book “The Road Less Travelled

I have always looked at life in retrospect. Sometimes I sit down and open my mind to the challenges of life and I have come to realise that it really is about a lot of things. Over time, I have come to challenge my own paradigms and views of life as I soldier on, however, one of the key things I have appreciated is that life is difficult…and  that It is not fair (By the way God is Not fair, He is JUST. Big difference! So stop crying around in search of pity and mercy about fairness and get tough. We will talk about that in The FOURTH PERSPECTIVE).

In life, we get what we bargain for and sometimes even that is taken away from us. In my daily life as a spectator and participants, I have learnt that four things are quite essential and here I will only discuss two: One being Discipline and the other Love. Why I choose these, you may ask, see, without discipline we can solve nothing but with discipline we can solve everything. As a kid, when mummy gave us food, sukuma wiki, Beef Stew and Ugali, most of us would start by eating Ugali and the Sukuma wiki, Delayed Gratification is a concept that we grasp early in life and it is an element of life that in retrospect spans all our actions. We then proceed to eat the beef stew as some sort of final celebration. Same thing with life, we as individuals must have the discipline to delay gratification. However, in today’s life, the youth especially are quick to want it all now. It is important that we learn that we must deal with life’s problems as soon as they present themselves and that gratification or success has a price to be paid. The greatest mistake we can make as individuals is to assume that problems will go away in their own accord. In relationships for instance, we must strive to pay the price for future gratification and long term happiness. When we make a conscious decision to be involved in one, then we as individuals must be willing and committed to it. Discipline, is what breeds commitment to a cause. In relationships just like in families, delayed gratification is a skill we learn and get to master over time. It requires a climate of great love (My second concept), self-worth, respect and security.  It is only when our partners feel secure, loved and Respected that they can make sacrifices for the relationships.

So what is Love? Many a people have tried to describe what love is. But for me, I will stick to the good book (The Bible). It says “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.”  This is the most comprehensive definition of LOVE I can find all the others are “SUBJECTIVE”.

When I look back at my life, I have come to realize that without Love we are nothing. The best place that I have experienced love is my Family. Looking back, I have come to realize that family forms the main unit where as individuals we come to know the essence (and our paradigm) of life. See, within the family unit, we experience unconditional love right from the time we step into the world but we must also realize that there are some of us who are not so lucky to experience this kind of love in their family. Ultimately, we as individuals must choose what we want in life because like the English poet William Ernest Henley says:

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll.

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

So looking back, I have realized that I need more Love and Discipline in my life. The Discipline to know the Truth, The discipline to Speak the Truth in Love, The discipline to Condemn in Love without Judgement and to always realize that in the final analysis I am the Master of my fate, I am the Captain of my Soul.