More than One Way to Skin the Cat – Leadership Style Part III

In addition to the Command and Control style, there are a number of leadership styles that Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee unearthed in the book, Primal Leadership, Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence.

And therein lies the rub, as they say…first because we all have a pre-dominant leadership style which also becomes our default style when we are stressed or excited or both; and second because we don’t always know when to use what style.

This is my interpretation of Mr Goleman and company’s view of a variety of leadership styles; the characteristics of each; and when it’s appropriate as a tool to maintain what he refers to as a positive emotional climate.

Style Characteristics When appropriate
  • Emphasis on moving toward a compelling future vision
  • Focuses on the big picture but brings it down to the ground to allow people to see where they fit
  • Provides motivation for people to move forward and structure for people to work within
When changes require a new vision or clarity of purpose is needed.

A highly effective style

  • Emphasis on maximizing individual and team potential
  • Communicates genuine interest in people
  • Works tirelessly with people to extract their best performance
  • Engenders trust
At times when followers want and need to improve individual and team performance

Another highly effective style.

  • Emphasis on creating and maintaining harmony
  • Values people and their feelings
When rifts occur in teams and during stressful times to strengthen relationships

An effective style when used in combination with others that ensure that tasks are accomplished

  • Emphasis on democracy and consensus building
  • Values input from others
  • Invites discussion and debate
Works well in combination with visionary style.

Has a positive impact but can delay decision-making

or lead to poor use of time

  • Emphasis on setting high standards with little direction or support
  • Can focus on outcomes or “bottom line” issues excluding the larger vision.
Works well when all people involved are highly motivated and skilled needing little direction.

Is often used inappropriately and can leave followers feeling poorly prepared or too driven.

So, you decide.  Are there other styles as well as the good ol’ command and control and the ones just described?  Is it possible to develop skill in all of them?  Does it help just to be aware of them and of our own pre-dominant style? Is there something missing?  What do you think?



Filed under Leadership Style

2 responses to “More than One Way to Skin the Cat – Leadership Style Part III

  1. The challenge of relying on our default style is that the very things that helped us get to the level of success we have already achieved can be the same things that derail us in trying to more to the next level of effectiveness and accomplishment. To your point if that is the one we use when “the chips are down” at some point we won’t succeed.

    You have me thinking about how much of our dominant style is a function of the intersection btw our “personality” and our skill set. Would we naturally employ other styles as we expand our skills and capabilities or will our personal beliefs, comfort zone and preferences hold us back? I tend to think we have to work on our beliefs as a leader if we want to grow in our ability to use a range of styles. And I strongly believe we need to be more flexibile as leaders than ever before.

  2. prissyperfection

    Yes, I think that we are often limited by the extent to which we get in our own way. And part of doing that is allowing ourselves to stay stuck in a belief system that doesn’t serve us, or anyone else, as well as it could if we were to challenge ourselves or spend a little more time reflecting on what we might do differently.

    Thanks for the great comment Susan!

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