Characteristics of two types of leaders

Monday, October 15, 2001

By Alan Foust

The poor leader

Impulsive: Impatient, unpredictable, and does not learn from their mistakes. May take ill-advised risks.

Risk averse: Reluctant to take unconventional action, too deliberate or indecisive. May fear change.

Imperceptive: Unable to read other people's moods and emotions. Does not know what motivates (and demotivates) people.

Low tolerance for ambiguity: May be good at implementing other people's ideas and strategies, but encounters difficulty with complexity or ambiguity.

Arrogant: Overly self-assured and self-promoting. May be inconsiderate and too independent.

Micromanaging: Too controlling and demanding, perhaps because of task orientation (in contrast to people orientation), or fears failure.

Approval dependent: Seeks praise and reassurance from others. May be compliant and conforming.

Self-promoting: Gregarious and persuasive. Shrewd in getting attention and credit from others.

Eccentric: Different from others, unorthodox or odd. May be creative.

Defensive: Argumentative, tense, perhaps suspicious. Focused on protecting one's own interests and resistant to feedback.

Volatile: Has trouble controlling emotions; moody, quick-tempered.

The cool leader

1. Allows the maximum amount of choices and decision-making for those closest to the work.

2. Embraces consistency only when it is required. Encourages employees to come up with local solutions instead. Does not punish employees for taking risks or making mistakes.

3. Does not allow secrecy in the company. Shares all information and makes sure that employees are fully informed on all issues and policies. Shows employees how the business affects them personally.

4. Does not glorify management. Management jobs are kept to a minimum and exist to serve the people who are doing the core work.

5. Sets expectations for employees for aligning their performance and behavior with the organization's mission, which should be to provide exemplary service or products to clients and customers.

6. Redistributes the wealth. Everyone shares in the organization's success. Recognizes the achievements and contributions of others.

7. Makes sure that "success measurements" serve the people doing the core work of the organization. Preferably, the employees who do the core work design the measurements.

Alan Foust is president of ASET, a training and loss prevention firm in Jackson.

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