Which leadership style is most desirable?

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 By Jack Nevison

Given a choice, many people would prefer to work for a leader who puts the emphasis on achieving results. Employees feel that projects led by such a person will be sharply focused and that their tasks will be based on clear goals. At the same time, people want to work with someone who has excellent social skills. Employees want to feel comfortable communicating with their manager when problems arise. They also want to work for someone who is generally a friendly person.

Given that both traits are considered highly desirable, it is no surprise that 72 percent of respondents said that great leaders possessed both of these attributes, according to a survey cited by the Harvard Business Review. The surprise is that the same survey found that only 1 percent of leaders are actually endowed with both of these qualities!

As it turns out, a results-oriented leadership style may be completely incompatible with one built on social skills. That's because recent social science research suggests that it can be difficult for our brains to focus on these areas simultaneously. The two styles are governed by two entirely separate regions of the brain, and the more one region is used, the less active the other becomes.

For the vast majority of project managers, the challenge lies in choosing which leadership style to deploy at any given moment for maximum impact. In particular, social skills are useful during the hiring process as well as during project execution and control, while the results-oriented style is  more effective in during project planning. In fact, a plan that is built on concrete deliverables (results) gives the project manager more freedom to use social skills while working on the project.

At New Leaf Project Management, we provide convenient and affordable ways to work on the skills you need for your workplace. In addition, our online project management training programs, free white papers and QPM games let you earn PDUs toward your PMP recertification.

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