Contact: Jenn Vance
no box: A practical guide for the relatable leader
Marisa Cleveland & Simon Cleveland
Matt Holt Books/An Impression of BenBella Books (November 2022)
How to become “a leader for all seasons”
Last time I checked, Amazon offers over 60,000 titles in the leadership category. I suspect that many of these books are like residences for sale: somewhere, there is a buyer for each one. there is no box is a case in point.
There are people out there, somewhere, who will benefit greatly from reading this book. Most of what the Cleveland offer is sensible. The presentation of the material would have been more effective if they had followed Albert Einstein’s advice to “make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler”. Frankly, I found this book difficult to read at times when the narrative is out of focus and somewhat disjointed.
So what is identifiable leadership? This is what Mary Ludden suggests in the foreword: “Being an identifiable leader, which is central to the authors’ methodology for establishing your leadership style, takes situational leadership theory to a new level never before seen in recent literature. . An identifiable leader is one who aligns with their value system (their why) and shows up every day for their team knowing they won’t have all the answers. On the other hand the [relaatable] The leader sees the act of being present and authentic as the first step in creating a circle where everyone is invited to share their concerns.” And their hopes, and dreams, and aspirations, and their… you get the idea.
Here is some background information:
In the 1980s, Ken Blanchard and Paul Hershey developed a theory about how adapting a leadership style to an employee’s potential is more effective than trying to adapt employees to fixed leadership styles. Based on their work, the two men identified four leadership styles that can be combined with an employee’s ability and commitment.
The four situational leadership styles developed by Blanchard and Hershey are:
o Count and direct (S1): In this leadership style, the leader provides support, specific guidance, and close supervision. Leaders who speak and direct make decisions and direct actions through communication and interaction. These leaders are highly involved and use a top-down approach, which means that employees follow the instructions they have been given.
o Sales and coaching (S2): Considering the style of explanation and persuasion, sales and training leaders welcome input from group members and encourage them to come forward with their own ideas and suggestions. These leaders effectively sell their concept to the group and seek to enlist their cooperation through discussion and collaboration, although the final decision belongs to the leader.
o Participating and supporting (S3): Participating and supportive leaders offer less direction and leave decisions to others. Although they may oversee operations, participating leaders trust the ability of the group or members and expect them to make the right decisions.
o Delegate (S4): These leaders tend to limit participation and leave most of the responsibilities to the group. Delegating leaders may be consulted from time to time, but primarily pass decision-making and project direction to group members.
Regarding the title of this book, no boxCareless use of metaphor can create avoidable barriers to understanding how best to solve problems. For example, are you solving the correct problem? What is your context? Are you reacting to symptoms instead of focusing on their root causes?
Yes, situational leadership is context-based and allows for different styles of leadership by involving others in the given situation/process. However, invoking another set of metaphors, if an ox is in a ditch, focus on getting it out; find out why and how he fell into the ditch; and then make sure it doesn’t happen again. Problem Solving 101. Marisa Cleveland and Simon Cleveland share what they have learned about leadership in general and situational leadership in particular. As stated above, I believe there are executives out there who aspire to become situational leaders and need a book like this to help them achieve that goal.
The Clevelands use a device at the end of the chapter (“Reflection”) that asks the reader to interact with the key points covered in the given chapter. I always recommend that those reading a business book highlight the key passages. With respect to no boxI also recommend keeping a lined notebook handy to jot down comments, questions, page references, etc. but also to write down the answers to the questions posed or implied in each “Reflection” section. These two simple tactics will actually make it easier speed up frequent review of key material later.