Welcome to Part 3 of Leadership Styles:
The late, great and inspirational Steve Jobs made a statement that neatly introduces The Oracle leadership style:
‘Leaders are fascinated by the future, you are a leader if, and only if, you are restless for change, impatient for progress, and deeply dissatisfied with the status quo. As a leader you are never satisfied with the present, because in your head you can see a better future, and the friction between what is and what could be burns you, stirs you, propels you forward.’
Business leaders do not generally have a crystal ball to predict the future of their business and guide them in their leadership decisions. The Oracle creates his / her own future vision for their business, organisation or people. Whereas some people look at the future and ask ‘why?’, the Oracle sees things that do not exist and asks ‘why not?’. They have the ability to see social and market trends and create a future. They literally can see things others cannot.
The Oracle is also capable of enlisting large numbers of followers through their passion and use of language. They are generally gifted speakers and have high levels of charisma.
If you haven’t heard or read Martin Luther King’s – ‘I have a dream….’, or JFK’s – ‘We choose to go the moon…‘, or Winston Churchill’s – ‘We shall fight on the beaches‘, you really should! Three hugely visionary speeches that instil passion, emotion and desire to be part of something big. The power of The Oracle.
The Oracle leadership style is often most effective when an organisation needs to make a step change in direction.
- Creates an inspiring vision of how the future will look.
- Inspires people to understand the larger purpose of their work.
- Creates an environment where people feel pride in belonging to the organisation.
- Operates from an inspiring set of shared core values and beliefs
- Engages people in working towards a shared vision
- Encourages people to innovate, experiment and take calculated risks in pursuit of the vision.
- Aligns performance and strategy with the vision.
The Oracle is most effective when:
- A new vision or clear direction is needed, e.g. when in a period of change – at an individual or organisational level.
- The leader believes in the vision; and sees it as being in tune with his / her own values and those of the organisation.
- The leader is self-confident, self-aware and empathic to others.
The Oracle is least effective when:
- The leader is not regarded as credible, i.e. others feel they know more about the organisation than the leader.
- When overplayed, i.e. if trying to steal power from a team-based approach.
When effective, the Oracle motivates individuals by focussing their attention on the long-term goals of the organisation; and how each individual contributes to its delivery. When not used effectively this style fails to take into account the natural talents and experience of the knowledgeable team members.
The Oracle is the most charismatic of Leaders and comes in many forms and contexts. According to the many books and blogs on the topic of leadership, The Oracle is the person who, to a large extent, single-handedly formulates a winning vision of where and how the organisation is to be in the future and who takes prime responsibility for ensuring that the organisation’s people ‘live’ the vision.
Be sure to read part 4 of Leadership Styles – The Collaborator