Research Paper By Elena Kaplun
(Entrepreneur Coach, SWITZERLAND)
Leaders Should Get Results – turning bold objectives into reality
Leadership coaching is an area that especially in the corporate world a major area for focus and development. Hence, leading institutions worldwide provide leadership training and coaching as part of the executive development programme. In addition, research is being conducted in this area of expertise to develop a deeper understanding of what effective leadership really entails. One point that everybody seems to agree on is that leadership is about getting results.
In The Effective Executive (p. 71), Peter Drucker argued that: “The effective executive makes strength productive. He knows that one cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths – the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one’s own strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities. To make strength productive is the unique purpose of organization. It cannot, of course, overcome the weaknesses with which each of us is abundantly endowed. But it can make them irrelevant. Its task is to use the strength of each man as a building block for joint performance.” “So if you want to be effective, and if you want to become effective in an efficient way, learn what your strengths are, build on them and craft your job (and most of your roles) so that they are called upon most of the time.” (Whatsbestnext.com, 2014)
A recent “research by the consulting firm Hay/McBer, which draws on a random sample of 3,871 executives selected from a database of more than 20,000 executives worldwide, takes much of the mystery out of effective leadership. The research found six distinct leadership styles, each springing from different components of emotional intelligence.” (Goleman, 2000)
In March-April 2000, the Harvard Business Review, had published a revolutionizing article on Leadership styles, called Leadership That Gets Results by Daniel Goleman. “New research suggests that the most effective executives use a collection of distinct leadership styles – each in the right measure, at just the right time. Such flexibility is tough to put into action, but it pays off in performance. And better yet, it can be learned.” (Goleman, 2000)
This is a major approach how leadership development can be approached in a coaching space for continuous development, especially since the study has based its outcomes on executive coaching. “Many managers mistakenly assume that leadership style is a function of personality rather than strategic choice. Instead of choosing the one style that suits their temperament, they should ask which style best addresses the demands of a particular situation.” (Goleman, 2000). Therefore, emotional Intelligence is in fact the base for leadership development. It is essential to investigate EI further before looking at its application in the leadership styles framework.
From the above publications can be concluded that building awareness of strengths – our own and others as well as adopting behaviours according to circumstances through leadership styles forms a solid base for successful leadership. A whole paper could be written on finding strengths and the relevant resources but the objective here is to build a link between strengths and leadership style since we will find certain leadership styles come easier to us than others.
“Leadership Research has shown that the most successful leaders have strengths in the following emotional intelligence competencies: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. There are six basic styles of leadership; each makes use of the key components of emotional intelligence in different combinations. The best leaders don’t know just one style of leadership— they’re skilled at several, and have the flexibility to switch between styles as the circumstances dictate.” (Goleman, 2000)
In both his books Emotional Intelligence (Bantam, 1995) and Working with Emotional Intelligence (Bantam, 1998), Goleman gives a very detailed overview of emotional intelligence and the six competencies. Let’s look deeper into each of the six competencies and what they entail to identify the coaching development around them, as per Goleman.
- Emotional self-awareness: the ability to read and understand your emotions as well as recognize their impact on work performance, relationships, and the like.
- Accurate self-assessment: a realistic evaluation of your strengths and limitations.
- Self-confidence: a strong and positive sense of self- worth.
- Self -control: the ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses under control.
- Trustworthiness: a consistent display of honesty and integrity.
- Conscientiousness: the ability to manage yourself and your responsibilities.
- Adaptability: skill at adjusting to changing situations and overcoming obstacles.
- Achievement orientation: the drive to meet an internal standard of excellence.
- Initiative: a readiness to seize opportunities
- Empathy: skill at sensing other people’s emotions, understanding their perspective, and taking an active interest in their concerns.
- Organizational awareness: the ability to read the currents of organizational life, build decision net- works, and navigate politics.
- Service orientation: the ability to recognize and meet customers’ needs.
- Visionary leadership: the ability to take charge and inspire with a compelling vision.
- Influence: the ability to wield a range of persuasive tactics.
- Developing others: the propensity to bolster the abilities of others through feedback and guidance.
- Communication: skill at listening and at sending clear, convincing, and well-tuned messages.
- Change catalyst: proficiency in initiating new ideas and leading people in a new direction.
- Conflict management: the ability to de-escalate disagreements and orchestrate resolutions.
- Building bonds: proficiency at cultivating and maintaining a web of relationships.
- Teamwork and collaboration: competence at promoting cooperation and building teams.
Leadership is about getting things done – it’s about delivering results to pre-defined objectives. Leaders are not alone, they operate in teams and rely on people around them. Leadership styles have been identified as a major tool to help leaders deliver on those results and be respected by their peers. But every situation is different and versatile so how do you act in all situations according to the circumstances? Maybe the golf pro’s can give us some advice. “Over the course of a game, the pro picks and chooses clubs based on the demands of the shot. Sometimes he has to ponder his selection, but usually it is automatic.
The pro senses the challenge ahead, swiftly pulls out the right tool, and elegantly puts it to work.” The same applies to the way high profile leaders make their decisions – based on given circumstance they adapt a particular leadership style. Leadership styles have also a very strong influence on the corporate climate, which can be either positive and negative. Building awareness around one’s style might lead to a realization why the climate is the way it is in a particular environment. The six leadership styles, like the golf clubs, a leader would choose from are coercive, authoritative, affiliative, democratic, pace-setting and coaching style. Let’s look at each of them closer.
“1. The coercive style. This “Do what I say” approach can be very effective in a turnaround situation, a natural disaster, or when working with problem employees. But in most situations, coercive leadership inhibits the organization’s flexibility and dampens employees’ motivation.
- The authoritative style. An authoritative leader takes a “Come with me” approach: she states the overall goal but gives people the freedom to choose their own means of achieving it. This style works especially well when a business is adrift. It is less effective when the leader is working with a team of experts who are more experienced than he is.
- The affiliative style. The hallmark of the affiliative leader is a “People come first” attitude. This style is particularly useful for building team harmony or increasing morale. But its exclusive focus on praise can allow poor performance to go uncorrected. Also, affiliative leaders rarely offer advice, which often leaves employees in a quandary.
- The democratic style. This style’s impact on organizational climate is not as high as you might imagine. By giving workers a voice in decisions, democratic leaders build organizational flexibility and responsibility and help generate fresh ideas. But sometimes the price is endless meetings and confused employees who feel leaderless.
- The pacesetting style. A leader who sets high performance standards and exemplifies them himself has a very positive impact on employees who are self-motivated and highly competent. But other employees tend to feel overwhelmed by such a leader’s demands for excellence—and to resent his tendency to take over a situation.
- The coaching style. This style focuses more on personal development than on immediate work-related tasks. It works well when employees are already aware of their weaknesses and want to improve, but not when they are resistant to changing their ways.
(Source: HBR Goleman, March-April 2000)
The more styles a leader has mastered, the better. In particular, being able to switch among the authoritative, affiliative, democratic, and coaching styles as conditions dictate creates the best organizational climate and optimizes business performance.” (Goleman, 2014)
Some of the styles above will come more naturally to us and some rather more challenging. Therefore, the next step is to look at the coaching application of both emotional intelligence and leadership as well as their strong connection with strengths.
Based on the coaching model on leadership, self-awareness and skills, the coaching approach will follow through the process illustrated below. The details will be adjusted to the specific development of emotional intelligence and leadership styles.
(Source: International Young Leaders Club, Coaching Model, 2014)
How to increase Emotional Intelligence?
Stage 1: Exploration and Awareness (Where do I want to go?)
At this stage is important to conduct a 360-degree feedback of the client to understand how he rates himself in areas of self-control, empathy and others. The Center for Creative Leadership has a list of available, certified 360- feedback resources such as
- Executive Dimensions® developing top-level leaders.
- Benchmarks® assessing the lessons of experience.
- Prospector® discovering the ability to learn from experience.
- 360 By Design® tailoring your assessment and feedback process.
The coach would identify the best option based on the client’s needs and the feedback data desired. Often the client may show resistance since he would overrate him on particular skills. It takes a very subtle approach from the coach to demonstrate how those weaknesses are tied to his inability to display leadership styles dependent on those competencies. Making such a connection is essential. The reason: improving emotional intelligence isn’t done in a weekend or during a seminar—it takes diligent practice on the job, over several months. If people do not see the value of the change, they will not make that effort.” (Goleman, 2000). At this stage the client should arrive at a stage where he feels the need to improve and develop on these competencies. To empower the client, it will be helpful to make a connection to strengths that have been identified during that feedback – like someone was rated very highly on his communication skills. In the development stage that strengths in communication can be used as a base for other areas of change.
Stage 2: Development and Growth (How do I get there?)
The realization of the specific areas of improvement and the commitment to improving on those is the base for a development plan that the coach will put in place with the client. The development plan should focus on action points for development in the six areas of EI, namely self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. At this stage, some self-awareness should be present based on the first stage of exploration and awareness. Now the coach with the client will select areas for development based on the outcomes of the conversation through a list of open-ended questions and incorporate the answers into SMART development objectives.
Questions which link exploration with clear actions for the development plan can be as followed. The client should give situational answer with descriptions upon which the coach will be able to draw together with the client the level of each of the competencies. The development plan will reflect on the current level based on each client. If there were situations which the client has never been exposed to, the coach would suggest as part of the development, to explore such situations and observe the behaviors.
- How well was I able to read and understand my emotions?
- What is the impact of my emotions on work performance, relationships, and the like?
- Which strengths/limitations do I illustrate in particular situations?
- When do others and I perceive me as confident?
- What happens when my emotions are boiling?
- During peculiar circumstances, how well did I demonstrate honesty and integrity?
- When I set a plan, when was or wasn’t I able to follow through with my responsibilities and manage my willpower?
- In which cases to do embrace change versus showing resistance to change in other situations?
- To which extend am I internally driven towards excellence to achieve goals?
- When opportunities arise, how do I react?
- What is the level of my skill set at sensing other people’s emotions, understanding their perspective and taking an active interest in their concerns?
- What is my ability to read the currents of organizational life, build decision net- works and navigate politics.
- When I meet a customer, how do I ensure to understand his needs?
- When I had a great idea, how was I able to inspire and take charge to compel a vision?
- When managing my team, how I am able to influence them towards the desired outcome utilizing a range of persuasive tactics?
- How much initiative do I take to develop others with the objective to bolster their abilities through feedback and guidance?
- In which situations was or wasn’t I able to listen and communicate by sending clear, convincing, and well-tuned messages?
- How do I feel when I am a change catalyst, able to initiate a new idea and lead people in a new direction?
- When a conflict is sensed, how do I de-escalate the disagreement and orchestrate resolutions?
- How do I build bonds by cultivating and maintaining a web of relationships?
- In which cases do I promote teamwork and collaboration – showing competence at promoting cooperation and building teams?
Stage 3: Result tracking (Action)
After defining the actions around the conversation above, the client walks away and implements those. A key component is the client’s own observation, keeping track of those in a journal and awareness around problems he counters during the implementation. The client will meet the coach once or twice a week, to track back on the actions and help client progress by acknowledging achievements and positively confronting when objectives were are not met. At the same time, this will be a great opportunity for exploring re-occurring patterns of behavior, underlying believes, confidence, perspectives and many other coaching areas. This will bring new aspects to life, which are important for the success of the development process.
Stage 4: Adjustment of development and growth (Re-evaluation)
Therefore, those new discoveries and insights have to be reflect back into the plan and adjustment will be required. It is essential to communicate to the client that adjusting the plan is not a set back, it is part of the process to re-evaluate to information and track it back in since with every step, a larger awareness will be developed which can then be utilized in the development plan triggering further actions. “Why does improving an emotional intelligence competence take months rather than days? Because the emotional centers of the brain, not just the neocortex, are involved. The neocortex, the thinking brain that learns technical skills and purely cognitive abilities, gains knowledge very quickly, but the emotional brain does not. To master a new behavior, the emotional centers need repetition and practice. Improving your emotional intelligence, then, is akin to changing your habits. Brain circuits that carry leadership habits have to unlearn the old ones and replace them with the new. The more often a behavioral sequence is repeated, the stronger the underlying brain circuits become. At some point, the new neural pathways become the brain’s default option.” (Goleman, 2014)
How to master leadership styles?
“To do so, leaders must first understand which emotional intelligence competencies underlie the leadership styles they are lacking. They can then work assiduously to increase their quotient of them.
For instance, an affiliative leader has strengths in three emotional intelligence competencies: in empathy, in building relationships, and in communication. Empathy— sensing how people are feeling in the moment— allows the affiliative leader to respond to employees in a way that is highly congruent with that person’s emotions, thus building rapport. The affiliative leader also displays a natural ease in forming new relationships, getting to know someone as a person, and cultivating a bond. Finally, the outstanding affiliative leader has mastered the art of interpersonal communication, particularly in saying just the right thing or making the apt symbolic gesture at just the right moment.” (Goleman, 2014)
So if the client is primarily a pacesetting leader who wants to be able to use the affiliative style more often, he would need to improve his level of empathy and his skill at building relationships or communicating effectively. As another example, an authoritative leader who wants to add the democratic style to his repertory might need to work on the capabilities of collaboration and communication. Such advice about adding capabilities may seem simplistic—“Go change yourself”—but enhancing emotional intelligence is entirely possible with practice.
Therefore, we can conclude that in the coaching practice of leadership and specifically the area of leadership styles, the work is actually happening at a deeper level of emotional Intelligence. In order to achieve that, awareness has to be built by the client and a development plan implement to help client acquire the relevant skills.
Leadership That Gets Results by David Goleman, HBR Publishing 2000
Emotional Intelligence by David Goleman, Bantam 1995
Working with Emotional Intelligence by David Goleman, Bantam 1998
The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker, Collins 2006
http://whatsbestnext.com/toolkit/do-what-energizes-you-not-what-weakens-you-what-it-means-to-work-in-your-strengths/#_ftn19 , 10 August 2014
http://www.ccl.org/leadership/assessments/assessment360.aspx , 7 August 2014