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HTM 029 – Top Dog To Values Leaders – How To Matter

April 24th, 2016 by Gary Crow

Are you a leader or striving to become a leader? If so, it is important to identify your leadership style and to be aware of why you prefer a particular style. As becomes clear, there are alternative and distinct styles and each has its strengths and limitations. The better you understand your style, the more effective you are as you exploit the strengths of your style while compensating for its limitations.


Top dog leadership: If this is your style, you value a high level of personal control over and direct management of your followers. You work best with very cooperative followers and have low tolerance for non-compliance. You run a tight ship. Your followers typically defer to your perspective and are eager to do things your way. They tend to compete for your approval and may prioritize getting your blessing over getting the job done.

Lead dog leadership: You are a visionary who sets the organizational course. You reject use of power and control, placing your faith in the good will and principled behavior of your followers. You favor followers who function well with minimal supervision and direction and who naturally see the validity of and value in following your vision. Your style is an excellent fit for kindred spirits but is less compatible for those who may occasionally question your vision or who desire more structure and guidance. Your followers may tend to separate into the consonant majority and the small but dissonant minority.

Task leadership: Your strength is in getting the job done and depends on having qualified followers who are ready to work. Your followers are expected to bring the necessary expertise to each task and efficiently handle their piece of the project. This works especially well for followers who are expert at what they do and neither need or want direct supervision or involvement beyond their immediate tasks. It works less well for followers whose expertise may not be an exact fit with the current requirement, who value understanding how what they do fits in with the success of the larger organization, or who value social contact and interaction. It also may be less effective in the event the various elements of the enterprise experience minor to major disruption or variance from expectation.

Technical leadership: You know what needs done and how to do it. As the resident expert, your followers need only follow your instruction and direction. Your style is a particularly good fit for inexperienced followers who are eager to improve their skills and demonstrate their value to the organization. It also works well for more experienced followers who are comfortable deferring to superior knowledge and expertise. It may work less well for followers who value more autonomy and want to become experts in their own right, for those who value independence.

Motivational leadership: Although you may not be especially charismatic, even a small measure of charisma adds to followers’ attraction to you and to their desire to align. Your verbal and interpersonal presence are compelling and interject energy and “want to” as your followers coordinate their energy, interests, and aspirations with yours. This works well for motivating less engaged followers but may pull weaker and less centered followers into blindly following, with a minimal sense of consequences or personal responsibility.

Values leadership: Your strength is in showing followers why what they and you do is important, why it matters. This works well for followers whose personal views and priorities are already near alignment with yours. You have a knack for encouraging followers deeper into the fold. Alternatively, followers who are more diverse shy away from your leadership and over time, your organization tends to become more and more homogenized.


Although a few leaders may be restricted to one or more of the six styles, most blend all, depending on the situation or particular circumstance. Even so, leaders typically find their comfort zone limited to one or perhaps two styles. They consciously shift outside their comfort zones temporarily but cannot sustain the shift. Without high and continuous self-awareness, they drift toward one dimensional leadership. This becomes especially pronounced during periods of organizational disruption, higher than usual personal stress, or when confronted with atypical or unfamiliar situations or circumstances.

• What is your preferred style, your comfort zone?

• What is the primary disadvantage or limitation of your preferred style?

• How do you detect a mismatch between your preferred style and the immediate situation?

• How do you assure you appropriately adjust your style to the current circumstance?

• Why would great people choose to follow you?

Disclaimer: I found this in one of those folders we all have on our computers but seldom visit. I am not sure whether I wrote it or appropriated it from someone else. If I did write it, good for me. If not, I wish I had. If I saved it from another writer’s work, I cannot find the citation. At any rate, I think it is both thoughtful and interesting and am sharing it without attribution to me or anyone else. If you know the correct source, please let me know and I will update the post to include the citation.

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