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What kind of leader are you?

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Leadership has as many different definitions as there are people trying to define it. Many theories have emerged as to what makes a good leader. Is it a set of traits with which one is born? Most researchers would say, "no." Instead, leadership is a combination of studiable behaviors that can be analyzed, learned, and improved upon. Which behaviors are desirable may depend on the situation the leader is facing. Dozens of theories have emerged in recent decades trying to identify desirable traits for a leader. Each of these approaches the practice of leadership from a slightly different perspective and with a slightly difference idea of the end purpose of leadership. Most, if not all, of these theories have some merit. However, in my mind, one emerges to the top as covering the broadest range of definitions of leadership, end goals of leadership, and best applicability to leadership situations. That theory is the Full Range Model of Leadership.

The Full Range Model of Leadership does exactly what its name implies: it covers what many researchers feel is the greatest spectrum of leadership behaviors. And, it does so in an organized, empirically studiable format with the use of an instrument that has been proven reliable and valid. In fact, the Full Range Model of Leadership and its accompanying instrument, the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire - 5X (MLQ-5X) is one of the most studied leadership theories and social-scientific measuring instruments.

This blog is not sufficient to cover the history and research associated with the Full Range Model or the MLQ-5X. So, a brief summary will have to suffice. The Full Range Model encompasses 9 facets across 3 dimensions of leadership behaviors. These dimensions are: Transformational Leadership, Transactional Leadership, and Passive-Avoidant Leadership. Most of you will recognize Transformational Leadership, at least the name, from virtually every job posting you've ever made or responded to. It has become a buzzword in leadership. Transactional Leadership is just that; it is based on a transaction between leader and follower. And, Passive-Avoidant Leadership is essentially a lack of leadership.

So, what kind of leader are you? If you take the MLQ-5X it will give you a score in each of the 9 facts. These facets are explained below:

Transformational Leadership

Idealized Influence (Attributed) - You are a role model to your followers just because of the position or station you hold. Pastors and church leaders should score pretty high in this category.

Idealized Influence (Behavioral) - You behave in a way that displays high ethical and moral standards. Essentially, you walk the walk.

Inspirational Motivation - You motivate others by providing meaning and challenge to their work. You create opportunities for your followers to grow.

Intellectual Stimulation - You stimulate innovation and creativity and encourage others to seek new solutions to problems. "We've always done it that way" is not an acceptable response. You encourage others to dream big dreams.

Individual Consideration - You act as a coach and a mentor for your followers. You truly create a "family" atmosphere where each person feels recognized and valued as an individual, not just as part of the larger machinery of the organization. You create new learning opportunities, and you display empathy.

Transactional Leadership

Contingent Reward - You engage in a clear path-goal transaction of reward for performance. You provide resources for others to accomplish tasks and they are rewarded with recognition for a job well done. Followers feel they are getting something in return for their effort.

Management by Exception (Active) - You monitor others' performance and take corrective action only if deviations or errors occur. This is the beginning of poor management. With this facet you correct behavior only after the undesirable action has occurred. You have failed to coach and guide your followers up to this point and are punishing them when they fail at a task or perform below your expectations.

Passive-Avoidant Leadership

Management by Exception (Passive) - You fail to intervene until problems have become serious. Here, the leader has probably failed to notice that errors or unsatisfactory performance were occurring until someone else brings it to your attention. You have been completely inattentive and react only when your hand is forced.

Laissez-Faire - Complete absence of leadership. You are not even reactive, certainly not proactive. You are inactive and passive and avoid making any decisions.

Think of Transformational Leadership as taking an active role in your organization and in your members. Think of Passive-Avoidant Leadership as sitting at your desk, smelling smoke, but still waiting for someone else to tell you there is a fire.

Each one of us exhibits some form of each of these traits at some point. The goal is to score higher on the 5 I's of Transformational Leadership and lower on the Passive-Avoidant facets. Our leadership development consultants can help administer the MLQ-5X and interpret your scores. Or you can start by asking yourself these questions:

Do I take an active interest in my followers and treat each one as an individual?

Do I provide opportunities for my followers to grow as individuals and as members of the organization?

Do I inspire members of my organization to be creative and "think outside the box?"

Do I behave like a leader I would want to follow?

Hopefully, you can answer all of these questions "yes." If so, you probably score higher on the Transformational end of the spectrum

Do I wait for others to point out problems before I address them?

Do I take a passive role in leading others?

Do I make others NOT want to follow me?

If you answer "yes" to these questions, you've probably got some work to do.

Feel free to reach out to us, and we will get our consultants immediately to work helping you become the leader your organization deserves.

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