Crisis in Leadership?


This is a recycled blog from earlier in the year. It got good reviews and as I have moved to WordPress I thought it was appropriate to re-publish it, as well as a chance to add a drawing 🙂

HR Magazine published this article in April.

UK Employees demotivated due to “leadership crisis”.

It referred to a study by Hay Management Consultants, and the headlines that struck me were that only 18% of leaders in the UK are able to create a high performance environment for their employees, and that 50% are creating a demotivating working climate.

The article also mentioned that its generally recognised that effective leadership comes from adopting a range of styles, and that 38% have not mastered or at best only one leadership style. This compares with 2% who are able to adopt a range of four or more styles.

I thought it might be helpful to expand on the article as I am accredited to use a 360 feedback tool based on the leadership styles Hay Group refer to in the article.

The Inventory of Leadership Styles comes from Daniel Goleman of Emotional Intelligence fame and referenced in his book The New Leaders (Primal Leadership outside of the UK). His research indicated that leaders who achieved the best results did not just practice one style of leadership, but used as many as six different styles, demanded by the situation and context of the issues they faced.

Goleman uses the analogy of imagining the leadership styles as a set of clubs in a pro golfers bag. Over the course of a round, the pro chooses and picks a club from his bag based on the demands of the shot and his own state during a tournament. Sometimes he may ponder selection, but usually its automatic. The pro senses the challenge and swiftly pulls out the right club and plays the shot.

Goleman’s six styles of leadership seeks to add a way of understanding a mixture of styles that we all probably recognise, but not in one collection, and he sought to bring some science to what is often thought of as an art form!

He identifies the six styles as:

Coercive: gaining immediate compliance

Visionary: providing long term vision and leadership

Affiliative: creating trust and harmony

Democratic: reaching group consensus and generating new ideas

Pacesetting: leading by example and accomplishing task to high standards

Coaching: focusing on the professional growth of employees

Of the six styles, four have the potential to improve team and organisational performance. These are Visionary, Affiliative, Democratic and Coaching. The Coercive and Pacesetting styles have the potential to demotivate and create negative reactions in others if over used or used in effectively.

When I use these styles in either a coaching conversation or as part of a Leadership Development programme. Most people will honestly recognise those styles they are drawn toward, that they feel comfortable with. In golfing terms the “trusty 7 iron”, the club that feels comfortable and easy to use.

Just this awareness and understanding the potential impact of over using or even under using certain styles of leadership can bring a greater level of self awareness and often a recognition that styles used in the past may not guarantee success in the future.

I am not sure we have a crisis in leadership, maybe just a lack of awareness of what leadership is and is not. My personal view is that we have over relied on a set of characteristics and stories peddled by the “great man” myth, and that this model like others based more around a sound construct of behaviours might give us a meaningful framework on which to talk leadership.

There is a 360 available that can provide leaders with a profile of their repertoire of styles. Its also normed against tens of thousands of managers around the world, and across industries, job functions and levels in both the public and private sectors.

If you are curious and would like to know more, or you would just like to talk leadership then give me a shout. I would love to hear from you.


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