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Design Leadership by Richard Banfield

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Chapter 6. Leadership Styles

Introduction

Thankfully we’re all different, and as we learned in Chapter 1, that diversity makes organizations stronger. No one will deny that different perspectives bring a healthy variety of ideas to the table. But the question remains: are there some styles of leadership that just work better than others?

Our interviews aimed to identify styles of leadership that produced positive results. We asked our design leaders about their leadership styles. We also asked them about the results those styles create, and then investigated whether their teams agreed with those approaches. By contrasting these perspectives, we were able to see which styles are most successful.

Failure as a Gift

“From a leadership perspective, I look at most of what I do as failure,” says Bryan Zmijewski of Zurb. “I’m constantly failing. I like to use Babe Ruth as an example. Babe Ruth was an exceptional baseball player. He hit tons of home runs, but he also struck out as much as he hit home runs. Somehow he had a batting average of 300, which means to be one of the best baseball players in the world hitting, he was missing most of the time.” It might feel counterintuitive to consider failure as a leadership style, but Zmijewski does just that. By opening himself up to the growth mindset and embracing moments of failure as learning opportunities, he’s putting himself ahead of the game. “I think from a leadership perspective, we have these expectations that you’re supposed to ...

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