Leading the Leaders

Endeavor’s most recent Collaborators and Cocktails speaker series featured Susan Credle, the global chair and global chief creative officer of the award-winning global agency, FCB (Foote, Cone & Belding). Credle, who grew up in Greenville, is one of the advertising industry’s leading creatives and an important voice representing women, diversity, and industry inclusion.

Credle spoke to a sold-out room full of Endeavor members and students to identify and advise on six leadership styles she has experienced throughout her more than 25-year career, sharing both the pros and cons of each type.

Credle defined these leadership styles, before requesting the audience determine which style they best identify with. After allowing the group time to deliberate, Credle added some learned knowledge; “Okay, now we’re going to talk about why you’re screwed.”

Receiving laughter from her audience, albeit nervous laughter, Credle shared something we don’t typically get schooled on, how your biggest strength in leadership can actually “bite you in the butt.”

Below are the different types of leadership styles Credle analyzed with attendees – the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

  1. The Dreamer

The dreamer lives by the words, ‘What if?’ Dreamers see a blank wall and endless possibilities. The downside of this is that the dreamer is too far into their vision that they might not see reality. Often, the dreamer forgets that there are other people in their story, which hurts them when trying to build a team or a company.

 

  1. The Sovereign (Credle self-identifies as a sovereign leader)

The sovereign leader goes, learns, has life experiences, and then comes back to share that knowledge to help their team learn and get better. “The con to the sovereign, is that you very well might be a narcissist.” Sovereign leaders are more familiar with saying I, than saying we, you, or us. They often come off as a know-it-all, leading their people to feel like they have nothing to offer, or that they are “less than.”

 

  1. The Strategist

The strategist always has a vision and a plan. They know what they are going to do right now, tomorrow, and next week. Strategists can be great assets, but they often don’t want to hear other ideas that could derail their long thought-out vision. Strategist leaders struggle by not hearing what others have to say.

 

  1. The Warrior

The warrior has no fear and feels no intimidation. They see a hill, and they charge. Their drive is strong, but the drawback of a warrior is that they are also the bully. They lead out of fear, and they use that fear to get people to get things done.

 

  1. The Change Agent

The change agent is, as labeled, comfortable with change. When a change agent hears the word “problem” they actually hear the word “opportunity.” Their mentality is like that of a warrior; they have no fear, change is exciting. The Achilles heel of a change agent leader is that they get so bored, they like to change things for change’s sake, which can be damaging to their teams’ efforts, strengths and moral. Change should have both a purpose and a meaning.

 

  1. The Nurturer

The leader who is a nurturer wants the best for their team and lives by the mantra of “What can I do to help you?” The downside of this is that it leads to smothering and cuts off growth because no time is being taken to teach. Additionally, nurturers are not comfortable with failing. Credle says, “Failure is something that we need to teach everybody. It is okay to fail if you tried and you pushed the boundaries and you learned. Failing is not a failure!”

 

Credle closed out by reinforcing her beginning statement of the danger of identifying as one particular type of leader. “You don’t get to pick one or two or three. If you want to be a great leader, not just a good leader, you must do all six. You must be all six.”

She continued, “More importantly, you must be empathetic. Your emotional intelligence must be so high that you know when to draw on which ones. As a leader, you must understand who you are leading and lead in a way that’s best for them. Recognize the situation you are in, and determine: Do you need to nurture? Do you need to have a strategy? Do you need to impart some knowledge? Do you need to be braver for the group? When you start thinking this way, it changes how you show up and it changes your leadership decisions.”