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Adopting Leadership Styles Like Playing Golf

Thomas Raybell
, Marketing Director

I don’t play golf, I never have. However, when it comes to taking a team from ordinary to extraordinary we need to understand the importance in changing leadership styles like a golfer would change his or her club. We might not think about it, but managers and leaders have two completely different roles. Even though we might use the terms interchangeably, managers facilitate their team members success by ensuring that they have everything they need to be productive and successful. A manager's responsibility is to ensure that their team is trained well, with minimal roadblocks, while being recognized for their performance and coached through their challenges. On the other hand, a leader can be anyone on the team who has a particular talent, thinks outside the box, and has experience in a certain aspect of business. A leader is based on strengths, not titles. Daniel Goleman, author of “Primal Leadership”, who popularized the notion of “Emotional Intelligence” describes six different styles of leadership. The most effective leaders can move among these styles, adapting to each problem like a golfer would. In “Leadership That Gets Results”, Goleman, and his team spent three years with over 3,000 middle-level managers to uncover specific leadership behaviors to determine each leadership style and its effect on the bottom-line profitability. Why should you care? The research discovered that a manager’s leadership style was responsible for 30% of the company's bottom-line profitability. Here, are the six leadership styles Goleman uncovered among the managers he studied.

1.) The pacesetting leader expects and models excellence and self-direction. In this style, the leader sets high standards and expects things to be done quicker and better. Mr. Goleman warns that this style should be used sparingly as it can be overwhelming to  the team and squelch innovation. Mr. Goleman says, according to the data, more often than not, pacesetting poisons the work climate.

2.) The commanding leader is a classic “military” style leadership, this is probably the most often used, but the least effective as cited in the Wall Street Journal. This style demands immediate compliance, it is most effective during a crisis, such as a company turnaround or a takeover attempt. This style fails oftentimes because it is rarely involving praise, and frequently employs criticism, while undercutting morale and job satisfaction.

3.) The democratic leader draws on people’s knowledge and skills, creating a group commitment to a common goal. This style in one phrase would be “What do you think?”. This approach is best used when the goal of the organization is unclear and the leader needs to tap into the collective wisdom of the group. This style is least effective in time of crisis, or during urgent events when events demand quick decisions.

4.) The affiliative leader emphasizes the importance of teamwork and in creating harmony in a group by connecting people to each other. This works best in times of stress when teammates need to heal or rebuild trust. The focal point of this style is to create emotional bonds and belonging to the organization. This style lacks direction and doesn't perform well for meeting goals.

5.) The visionary leader inspires the entrepreneurial spirit and vibrant enthusiasm for the mission. This style is best when an organization needs a new direction and moves people to a new set of shared dreams. Mr. Goleman states visionary leaders articulate where the group is going, but not how the group will get there, setting team members free of framework and opening them up for innovation and experiment.  

6.) The coaching style focuses on developing individuals, showing them how to improve their performance and helping them connect to their goal and the goal of the organization. Mr. Goleman warns sometimes this can be perceived as micromanaging or undermining an employee’s self-confidence.  

Leaders and managers must go hand in hand. But they are not the same thing. They are complementary, but not necessarily linked. One cannot talk about leaders without talking about managers. These six different leadership styles are vital for any situation where a team has a common goal to accomplish.  Just as a golfer, a leader or a manager needs to understand themselves and their team in setting up the framework for success.

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