I’ve noticed a pattern. Through a decade of coaching leaders to become more credible and effective, I’ve seen the same six limiting behaviors cropping up again and again. These are behaviors that can be inherently positive in certain aspects, but in a leadership role, they can be a detriment to a person’s ability to inspire others, make decisions and lead a team to success.
The good news is that all of these behaviors are coachable. If you see yourself in any of the material below, take heart: You can work through these behaviors and come out a stronger, better leader than ever before.
In the realm of leadership, an all-too-common pitfall is the tendency to be excessively deliberate when developing a strategy. While meticulous planning has its merits, an overdose of caution can breed a crippling fear of failure. This fear, in turn, shackles leaders, preventing them from venturing into the uncharted territory where groundbreaking ideas often reside….Continue reading…
By: Stacy Sufka
Functional leadership theory addresses specific leader behaviors that contribute to organizational or unit effectiveness. This theory argues that the leader’s main job is to see that whatever is necessary to group needs is taken care of; thus, a leader can be said to have done their job well when they have contributed to group effectiveness and cohesion. While functional leadership theory has most often been applied to team leadership, it has also been effectively applied to broader organizational leadership as well.
In summarizing literature on functional leadership, researchers observed five broad functions a leader performs when promoting organization’s effectiveness. These functions include environmental monitoring, organizing subordinate activities, teaching and coaching subordinates, motivating others, and intervening actively in the group’s work. Various leadership behaviors facilitate these functions.
In initial work identifying leader behavior, Fleishman observed that subordinates perceived their supervisors’ behavior in terms of two broad categories referred to as consideration and initiating structure. Consideration includes behavior involved in fostering effective relationships. Examples of such behavior would include showing concern for a subordinate or acting in a supportive manner towards others.
Initiating structure involves the actions of the leader focused specifically on task accomplishment. This could include role clarification, setting performance standards, and holding subordinates accountable to those standards. The Integrated Psychological Theory of leadership attempts to integrate the strengths of the older theories (i.e. traits, behavioral/styles, situational and functional) while addressing their limitations, introducing a new element – the need for leaders to develop their leadership presence, attitude toward others, and behavioral flexibility by practicing psychological mastery.
It also offers a foundation for leaders wanting to apply the philosophies of servant leadership and authentic leadership. Integrated psychological theory began to attract attention after the publication of James Scouller’s Three Levels of Leadership model (2011). Scouller argued that older theories offered only limited assistance in developing a person’s ability to lead effectively. He pointed out, for example, that:
- Traits theories, which tend to reinforce the idea that leaders are born not made, might help us select leaders, but they are less useful for developing leaders.
- An ideal style (e.g. Blake & Mouton’s team style) would not suit all circumstances.
- Most of the situational/contingency and functional theories assume that leaders can change their behavior to meet differing circumstances or widen their behavioral range at will, when in practice many find it hard to do so because of unconscious beliefs, fears, or ingrained habits. Thus, he argued, leaders need to work on their inner psychology.
- None of the older theories successfully addressed the challenge of developing “leadership presence“—that certain “something” in leaders that commands attention, inspires people, wins their trust, and makes followers want to work with them.
Scouller’s model aims to summarize what leaders have to do, not only to bring leadership to their group or organization, but also to develop themselves technically and psychologically as leaders. The three levels in his model are public, private, and personal leadership:
- The first two—public and private leadership—are “outer” or behavioral levels. These behaviors address what Scouller called “the four dimensions of leadership”. These dimensions are: (1) a shared, motivating group purpose; (2) action, progress and results; (3) collective unity or team spirit; and (4) individual selection and motivation. Public leadership focuses on the 34 behaviors involved in influencing two or more people simultaneously. Private leadership covers the 14 behaviors needed to influence individuals one-to-one.
- The third—personal leadership—is an “inner” level and concerns a person’s growth toward greater leadership presence, know-how, and skill. Working on one’s personal leadership has three aspects: (1) Technical know-how and skill, (2) Developing the right attitude toward other people, which is the basis of servant leadership, and (3) Psychological self-mastery, the foundation for authentic leadership.
Scouller argued that self-mastery is the key to growing one’s leadership presence, building trusting relationships with followers, and dissolving one’s limiting beliefs and habits. This enables behavioral flexibility as circumstances change, while staying connected to one’s core values (that is, while remaining authentic). To support leaders’ development, he introduced a new model of the human psyche and outlined the principles and techniques of self-mastery, which include the practice of mindfulness meditation.
A leadership style is a leader’s way of providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people. It is the result of the philosophy, personality, and experience of the leader. Rhetoric specialists have also developed models for understanding leadership.
Different situations call for different leadership styles. In an emergency when there is little time to converge on an agreement and where a designated authority has significantly more experience or expertise than the rest of the team, an autocratic leadership style may be most effective; however, in a highly motivated and aligned team with a homogeneous level of expertise, a more democratic or laissez-faire style may be more effective.
The best style is one that most effectively achieves the objectives of the group while balancing the interests of its individual members. A field in which leadership style has gained attention is that of military science, which expresses a holistic and integrated view of leadership, including how a leader’s physical presence determines how others perceive that leader. The factors of physical presence are military bearing, physical fitness, confidence, and resilience.
The leader’s intellectual capacity helps to conceptualize solutions and acquire knowledge to do the job. A leader’s conceptual abilities apply agility, judgment, innovation, interpersonal tact, and domain knowledge. Domain knowledge for leaders encompasses tactical and technical knowledge as well as cultural and geopolitical awareness.
Transactional leadership refers to an exchange relationship between a leader and followers in which they both strive to meet their own self-interests. There are several forms of transactional leadership, the first being contingent reward, in which the leader outlines what the follower must do to be rewarded for the effort. The second form of transactional leadership is management-by-exception, in which the leader monitors performance of the follower and takes corrective action if standards are not met.
Finally transactional leaders may be laissez-faire, avoiding taking any action at all.Transformational leadership refers to a leader who moves beyond immediate self interests using idealized influence (charisma), inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation (creativity), or individualized consideration. Idealized influence and inspirational motivation are when a leader is able to envision and communicate a mutually desirable future state.
Intellectual stimulation is when a leader helps their followers to become more creative and innovative. Individualized consideration is when a leader pays attention to the developmental needs of their followers, supporting and coaching them. Another factor that affects leadership style is whether the leader is male or female. When men and women come together in groups, they tend to adopt different leadership styles. Men generally assume an agentic leadership style.
They are task-oriented, active, decision focused, independent, and goal oriented. Women, on the other hand, are generally more communal when they assume a leadership position; they strive to be helpful towards others, warm in relation to others, understanding, and mindful of others’ feelings. In general, when women are asked to describe themselves to others in newly formed groups, they emphasize their open, fair, responsible, and pleasant communal qualities.
They give advice, offer assurances, and manage conflicts in an attempt to maintain positive relationships among group members. Women connect more positively to group members by smiling, maintaining eye contact, and responding tactfully to others’ comments. Men, conversely, describe themselves as influential, powerful, and proficient at the task that needs to be done.
They tend to place more focus on initiating structure within the group, setting standards and objectives, identifying roles, defining responsibilities and standard operating procedures, proposing solutions to problems, monitoring compliance with procedures, and emphasizing the need for productivity and efficiency in the work that needs to be done. As leaders, men are primarily task-oriented, but women tend to be both task- and relationship-oriented.
However, these sex differences are only tendencies, and do not manifest themselves within men and women across all groups and situations. Meta-analyses show that people associate masculinity and agency more strongly with leadership than femininity and communion.Such stereotypes may have an effect on leadership evaluations of men and women…
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