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IT Management: How do your leadership skills measure up?

A noted business consultant identifies the benefits and pitfalls of three popular leadership styles.

Barbara Trautlein

The top five leaders most admired by the world’s business executives are Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Jack Welch. That’s according to the 2013 Global CEO Survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

What are the most-admired leadership qualities? They include having a strong vision, being motivational, caring, innovative, persistent and ethical. These results tell you a lot about what it takes to be a strong business leader in today’s rapidly changing global marketplace.

The survey respondents cited a broad range of qualities to describe the same individual leaders, which shows they recognize today’s leaders need a combination of strengths. Contemporary leaders must have a high CQ—change intelligence quotient.

Today’s marketplace is in a state of constant change. Successful companies are those that can also respond and quickly adapt to the changes around them. That requires leaders who are able to lead with the head, by focusing on the big-picture goal and business objectives; the heart, by knowing how to engage, coach and motivate people; and with the hands, by providing the tactical tools and skills necessary like a project manager.

Not all leaders embody an even blend of all three. People tend to be stronger in one or two of these areas and weaker in the others. You need to identify your weak areas and work on strengthening them.

To do that, you must ask yourself: “Are you a head, heart or hands leader?” What follows are three of the seven CQ leadership styles; an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses; and a coaching suggestion for each.

The coach (heart-dominant)

Strengths:

  • Encourages people to join in discussions, decisions
  • Steps in to resolve process problems, such as conflicts
  • Listens to all viewpoints
  • Recognizes and praises others for their efforts
  • Helps reduce stress by lightening the mood

Weaknesses:

  • Sees team process and organizational climate as ends in themselves
  • Fails to challenge or contradict others
  • Doesn’t recognize the importance of accomplishing tasks
  • Overuses humor and other conflict-mitigation techniques
  • Doesn’t emphasize long-range planning

Coaching advice for this leadership style: Make connections with people, but also connect them with the mission. Don’t allow engagement to take precedence over performance.

The visionary (head-dominant)

Strengths:

  • Stays focused on goals
  • Engages in long-range thinking and planning
  • Takes a big-picture view
  • Enjoys seeing new possibilities
  • Scans the horizon for the next big opportunity

Weaknesses:

  • Doesn’t fully consider the effects change will have on organizational culture
  • May be less apt to focus on team members’ individual needs
  • Complains about lack of progress toward goals
  • Doesn’t give sufficient attention to the process by which goals are met
  • Neglects to ensure that the tactical details of the change process are handled

Coaching advice for this leadership style: It’s vital that all those working to make something happen share the same vision. Remember to share your vision with others (heart) and lay out a path to that vision that incorporates visible milestones along the way (hands).

The executor (hands-dominant)

Strengths:

  • Excels at project planning and execution
  • Accomplishes tasks in a timely and efficient manner
  • Dependable—does what is asked of him
  • Freely shares information and materials so others have the training, tools and resources they need
  • Pushes the team to set high performance standards

Weaknesses:

  • Loses sight of the big picture—the goal of the change process
  • Lacks patience with people and process issues
  • Pushes for unrealistic performance standards
  • Becomes impatient with other team members who don’t live up to standards
  • Goes into data overload, providing too much detailed information

Coaching advice for this leadership style: Expand your definition of “execution.” Engage people by making a compelling case for change so you’ll have their support, and take time-outs periodically to evaluate your goals and strategies.

Lead with your strengths

Most leaders are not all head, all hands or all heart. Most are some combination of the three, which is why there are seven change leader styles. Even leaders who have all three in seemingly equal measures have to watch out for some pitfalls.

The point isn’t to fundamentally change who you are, but rather to embrace your strengths, shore up your blind spots, and adapt your styles to be more effective when leading across a variety of different people and situations. By building your CQ, you can simultaneously become more powerful to help your team and organization. You can also help make yourself less stressed and frustrated. And you will more consistently exemplify the pivotal leadership qualities CEOs most admire.

Barbara Trautlein
Barbara Trautlein is author of “Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change that Sticks” (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2013), and a change leadership consultant, international speaker and researcher. She helps leaders achieve their personal and professional goals, from Fortune 50 companies to small- and midsize businesses. Trautlein has a Ph.D. in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan. Learn more at ChangeCatalysts.com.

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