Saturday, May 19, 2012

Leadership Styles are Like Golf Clubs

I  recognize that different leadership styles are required for different situations. No one style is adequate for different people, groups or situations.  On the golf course, you pull a different club from your golf bag depending on your lie and distance needed, an effective leader should have a set of leadership styles in his leadership bag to most effectively lead in different situations.  A recent review of some work by author Daniel Goleman validated my thinking.  
Daniel Goleman is best known for his books on Emotional Intelligence.  His best selling work defined a set of skills and competencies that defines how people manage feelings, interact, and communicate on their way to success.
In his book Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence, Goleman cites the leadership research of the consulting firm Hay/McBer that identified six distinct styles employed by leaders.  The best leaders do no rely on a single leadership style but use multiple styles and are able to move between them seamlessly and in different measure depending on the situation and people. 
He conveniently summarizes the six leadership styles and their application in a chart that I have reconstructed below.
Leadership Style The leader’s approach In a phrase Best used when… Impact on Climate
Coercive Demands immediate compliance "Do what I tell you." In a crisis to kick start a turnaround Negative

Mobilizes people toward a vision "Come with me." When changes require a new vision, or when a clear direction is needed Most strongly positive

Creates harmony and builds emotional bonds "People come first." To heal rifts in a team or to motivate people during stressful circumstances Positive

Forges consensus through participation “What do you think?” To build buy in or consensus or to get input from valuable employees Positive
Pacesetting Sets high standards for performance “Do as I do, now.” To get quick results from a highly motivated and competent team Negative
Coaching Develops people for the future “Try this.” To help an employee improve performance or develop long-term strengths Positive
You can access Goleman’s full description of the styles in the book, on in the original Harvard Business Review article Leadership that Get Results.  Please remember that you can access HBR articles from your local library’s online database. 

The Lead Quietly Takeaway

My takeaway from the article is that just like I have clubs in my golf bag that I avoid because I need more practice, there are leadership styles that require honing on my part to become the Phil Mickelson of the Leadership Tour.  Are you able to move and adjust your style as needed?
Thanks for reading.  Please lead quietly.

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