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Mainstream leadership theories versus the Blue Ocean Strategy model

Could the Blue Ocean Strategy model be successful where traditional leadership styles fail?

By George GkoutzouvalosPublished about a year ago 4 min read

Much discussion takes place nowadays, regarding whether the practice of leadership has actually changed, or not, over the years, over the centuries, and across generations.

Typically, most management theorists and hands-on managers tend to reach to the same conclusion, i.e. that the way leadership is currently practiced is very different to how it was implemented in the past.

In spite of the fact that there are many reasons for that, this is a completely pointless debate, in my opinion, because all mainstream leadership theories are oriented towards “pushing” things, in order to achieve results.

But, what if leaders tried “pulling” things, rather than “pushing” them?

This would mean delegating some control over things, instead of being in charge of literally anything and everything.

In terms of marketing strategy, it would mean going with the tide, and not imposing an imaginary wall between the business, on the one hand, and the market and consumers, on the other.

When it comes to business competition, the basic principle of the Blue Ocean Strategy is that, companies and organizations would be better off by attempting to create their own, unique “Blue Ocean”, instead of remaining stagnant and trying to fight a relentless war, so that they can earn an infinitesimal portion within a “Red Ocean” (the red color is due to the blood that is shed because of constant fighting against rivals).

At the end of the day, does it really matter whether a leader of an organization follows an authoritarian leadership style, rather than a coaching one, if the final outcome is the same for the organization?

My point of view is that, what an organization truly needs, in order to enjoy long-term and sustainable success through a smooth process, and with the minimum amount of rivalry, is a universal change in its approach, rather than a single leader changing his/her leadership style, no matter how influential he or she may be.

Unless an organization strives to offer “innovative value” (this is the key term that determines organizational success, and this term is used in the Blue Ocean Strategy book) to its stakeholders, then regardless of any change, in terms of the specific leadership style applied, the organization may experience a few years of success, and then it will end up brutally fighting against its rivals, in order to earn again its place inside a “Red Ocean”.

And then, even the most democratic and coaching leader will become, all of a sudden, more authoritarian than the most authoritarian leader on Earth, once he or she realizes that his or her position is at risk.

On the other hand, if a company adopts a methodical approach and orientation towards discovering and identifying its own, unique, “Blue Ocean”, the factor of offering “innovative value” will eliminate the need for identifying and applying a specific leadership style.

How difficult is it to apply the Blue Ocean Strategy to your business and life today?

Like any theoretical idea that promotes innovative thinking and serves as a source of inspiration, when you first read about the Blue Ocean Strategy, you will definitely get excited and believe that you have finally discovered a method that you’ve been looking for throughout your life. Hopefully, it will solve all of your business and personal problems at once, like a magic wand.

On the other hand, I believe that the majority of business schools around the world – and I speak from my personal experience – tend to teach traditional leadership styles, the only exception perhaps being INSEAD in France, where the writers of the book: “Blue Ocean Strategy: How to create uncontested market space and make competition irrelevant”, Professor W. Chan Kim and Professor Renee Mauborgne, teach.

Besides, although there are companies that finally manage to follow the Blue Ocean Strategy model and discover the color of success in their own Blue Ocean, these companies are very few. Unfortunately, the vast majority of business enterprises just go round a vicious circle, i.e. a Red Ocean, constantly crossing swords with their rivals, getting very few, if any, results.

Therefore, since the general trend in the academic and business world favors largely the adoption of traditional leadership styles and practices, it can be difficult to follow the unique path that can take your business and yourself to greener pastures, in the form of a Blue Ocean, where a market is characterized by low to no competition at all.

As a result, although it may sound a good idea in theory, you may need a lot of courage to break out from traditional practices and ignore any initial disapproval for doing things differently.

In the end, by following this model, you will be able to create your own uncontested market space that will make your effort worthwhile and change your business into a sustainable one for years to come.

Sources and further reading:

Key differences from conventional leadership approaches

Blue Ocean leadership


About the Creator

George Gkoutzouvalos


I have written articles for various websites, such as Helium, Hubpages, Medium, and many more.

Currently, I work as a translator. I have studied Tourism Management at college.

See you around on Vocal Media!

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