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Effective Leadership Series: Part I - Coercive Leadership

By Robyn Undieme | May 18, 2016

Do you know an effective leader here at the City? How is this person effective? Is he or she a person who communicates well, or someone who motivates and inspires your division or department?  Or does he or she simply get things done?

People often promote into management because they've displayed a proficiency in technical knowledge and skills. But what often gets minimized (and is just as important as technical skills) is evaluating the person's emotional intelligence, or soft skills present to effectively lead others. 

Admittedly, I don't envy HR. How do they know if someone is emotionally intelligent when they interview him or her? This may explain why often times, more focus is placed on a person's technical skills; it's easier to evaluate. But as long as organizations shift the focus away from leadership styles and emotional intelligence toward technical skills when hiring or promoting someone into management, they risk losing good people, customers, reliable service, and ultimately profitability.

Now that I'm back in school studying leadership, I've been reading about Daniel Goleman's research on six styles of leadership. It's interesting to find out that effective leaders are diverse in their approaches. But all have the emotional competency to change their approach and leadership style based on the environment and circumstances. In some ways, we could say good leaders are like chameleons. 

I plan to blog about Goleman's article in four separate pieces and highlight one or two leadership styles in each blog. The article by Goleman that I'm summarizing is titled,Leadership That Gets Results. You can find it at: www.hbr.org

As I summarize these styles, I encourage you to ask yourself how this style of leadership is impacting your environment; good or bad. And, most importantly, I ask that you strive to be self-aware of your own leadership style(s) and the impact it has on your co-workers.

The first style described in Goleman's article is the Coercive style, which is a strong, decisive, top-down form of leadership. It tends to be the least effective form of leadership in most situations because decisions are being made at the top of the hierarchy. It places people's sense of responsibility and autonomy in the middle and at the bottom of the organization, which is practically non-existent.

Morale can wane as people often fail to recognize what difference they make to the overall mission of the organization since such little control is given to them. With that said, there's a time and place for the Coercive style of leadership. In cases where the organization is in crisis or has hit rock bottom, Coercive leadership can force people into new ways of doing things. It can also help straighten situations out with problem employees when all else has failed. Ultimately though, this style of leadership should be used sparingly.

My next blog will focus on two more leadership styles: Authoritative and Affiliative. Of course, as you go along in following this series, I always enjoy hearing from you. Feel free to email your thoughts and observations to me at: rundieme@cityoftulsa.org