Channel or Reservoir: What type of Leader are you? A 40 for 40 amuse-bouche

July 4, 2018

This 40 for 40 entry is the first of several amuse-bouches (bite-sized hors d’œuvres) that I'll sprinkle in throughout the series occasionally.  Here's today's serving: Channel or Reservoir: What type of Leader are you?

 

What are you; a channel or a reservoir?  Channels are wide straits or waterways between two landmasses that lie close to each other. A channel can also be a narrow body of water that connects two larger bodies of water. In short,  channels are valuable because boats filled with people and resources flow through them. Reservoirs, on the other hand, keep substances within their walls. A reservoir is a storage space for water, hydrocarbons or gas.  Most often, reservoirs are enlarged natural or artificial lakes, created using a dam or lock to store water. It does what it's designed to do, block additional resources from getting by and holding that it has securely within.  

 

Straight to the point on this one.  It's better for your organization,  team, colleagues,  family, and friends if you embrace channel-style leadership.  Good leaders gain the confidence of those they work with by modeling the benefits that come along with "Channelers." Channelers: share resources, stoke creativity, develop people, and are happy to bring new people into their environment.  On the other hand,  reservoir-style leaders: hold resources tightly, don't incentivize employees to stoke creativity,  consider titles more important than the people who hold their roles,  and are hesitant to bring "outsiders" into their environment.  Reservoirers are more apt to lead in a posture that is more protective.  The benefits of not losing any "resource," (people) do not outweigh the benefits that Channelers receive by being open to the risks and rewards that come with being an open, inviting, environment for new talent.

 

I've had experiences where I can see the value of both leadership styles.  The variety of complex challenges that may exist in your specific organization may call for both channelers and reservoirers depending on the season.  That said, from my perspective the leader who has the people skills and acumen to model flexibility and trust will be the most successful in the long run.  This requires that you develop policies that will ensure that you've filled your organization with competent people who do their jobs well. It's hard to lead any group of people well if you assume from the start that they are incompetent.  

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