Sometimes, Just Throw a Chair

The title comes from a Wall Street Journal article reviewing a new book on negative leadership styles by Bob Knight, the former Indiana basketball coach (the fired Rutgers coach, Mike Rice, must have used the Knight theories taken to the extreme). Knight was effective as a leader, and even admired by most of his players.

And, here comes the New York Times blogging about the leadership style of Christine Quinn, who’s apparently famous for her effective rants at other legislators, staff, etc. Ms. Quinn is similarly admired for getting things done.

What’s going on here? It seems to us that leaders of companies need to practice situational leadership, which means that sometimes, you just have to throw a chair to get your point across. Now, Knight and Quinn may go too far at times, but they get their points across to those within earshot.

If you don’t know what situational leadership is, it’s basically letting the situation dictate what leadership style you’re using. Sometimes, you might be coaching. Sometimes, you might be authoritarian, when the troops don’t seem to be getting the message. And, if they’re REALLY not getting it, you rant like Knight and Quinn.

Many leadership theorists will say that you have to have one leadership style, but we’re not sure that’s the case. We’ve probably seen situational leadership work best, but just for the record, I’d like to find out, for example, if Alan Mullaly of Ford ever looses his temper. He’s always so even tempered and reasonable, it’s a lesson for the rest of us.

If you want to read more on leadership and developing your own style, also add to your readings list some of the work by Daniel Goleman, who first popularized the ’emotional intelligence’ of leadership, or using one’s emotional makeup to become a better leader.

We don’t have a course on leadership, because it’s just too long and complex a subject. Entire MBA courses are devoted to the subject, as are many books.

Our best advice is keep leading and evolving.

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