Incremental Leadership or The Leaky Water Faucet

I call it the leaky faucet style of leadership.

I have always been amazed at the leaky faucet and bucket dynamic. You put a bucket under a leaky faucet. Each drop of water seems almost meaningless. Then you come back the next morning, and that bucket is full, maybe even overflowing with water. It almost seemed like magic to me how those drops add up to a full bucket. It seems similar to the whole concept of compound interest.

From a communication/leadership perspective I always say that there is no such thing as little things and big things: all things have the potential to be big. What I mean is that we often don’t know if that little thing, that drop of water, is the first one in the bucket that seems almost meaningless. Or is that drop the one that makes the bucket overflow?

I call it the leaky faucet.  Some experts refer to it as incremental leadership or distributed leadership.

INC, magazine claims that 90% of leaders fall into the incremental group. That group at one time was figure-headed by Jack Welch. 10% of leaders are what is referred to as the disruptive leader. Think Steve Jobs.

It’s not so much that one group is better than another. You need the right style of leadership at the right time in your organization.

The leaky faucet style or incremental style requires a leader that has a bigger, strategic vision. You need the vision because the leader needs to see how each incremental change will have an impact on and to the bigger picture. Think of a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. The finished image on the box cover is your vision. Then you need someone who can see how each piece, each drop, fits into that vision.

Whatever kind of leader that you are or aspire to be, have an honest mirror.

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