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Stylistic Versatility

Except for his interviews with several famous people that were involved in the development of successful software systems, consuming Sam Lightstone’s “Making It Big In Software” didn’t do a whole lot for me. However, when he wasn’t writing like a know-it-all patriarch, Sam did provide several nuggets of wisdom to absorb. One of those nuggets was the disclosure of Hay & McBer’s 6 leadership styles as uncovered via a study of 3,871 executives. For your convenience (uh, actually my convenience), I’ve copied and pasted the leadership style table below.

Lightstone rightly says that the versatile leader (and how many versatile, multidimensional leaders do you know?) applies the right style at the right time:

  • Use coercion only in crises situations
  • Use authority when charting a new course
  • Use affiliation to heal a team
  • Use democracy for collaboration
  • Use pacesetting for sprints
  • Use coaching for improvement

Regarding effectiveness of style, Lightstone writes:

Although each style has its pros and cons, (Daniel) Goleman’s article citing the Hay and McBer research found that the coercive and pacesetting styles have the most negative impact on an organizations. Nobody likes to be bullied, and the hallmark of a coercive style is a dictatorial approach. Pacesetting styles force employees to run at a pace that might not be comfortable or sustainable for them.

I think that BOOGLs, BUTTs, and CGHs, of which there are many, are one dimensional SCOLs who apply the only style they know, coercion, in all situations. These one-trick-pony dudes and dudettes either don’t believe the other five styles exist, or they don’t utilize the styles because they’re expected to be “in control” at all times by the toxic culture that pervades the corpricracy.

I’m not a leader, so I don’t/can’t practice applying any of the Hay & McBer styles. How about you? Are you a versatile leader, or are you a culturally conditioned control freak?

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