Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Dynamic Leadership: An Expansion of Self Determination Theory

Dynamic Leadership: An Expansion of Self Determination Theory

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Leader: I guess so. I’m not sure what you mean exactly, but I’ll give it a try. I guess if I were going to be more Decisive, I would let everyone know this up front. I remember how horrible I felt when I was a team member and offered up my opinions only to realize that my leader had made up his mind already. So, if I let the team know that I’m genuinely interested in their opinions but… (Coach interjected with “AND”)… AND I also want us to make a decision so we can see some progress, I think they would view that as respectful. I could set a deadline that if we don’t reach a decision by a certain date, then I will make a final decision and will reach that decision by considering everyone’s ideas.

Coach: That sounds like a nice combination of being Inclusive and being Decisive to move things along. How else can you lead by being Inclusive AND Decisive?

Leader: I guess another way to do this is to delegate decision-making authority to the subject matter experts who really have the best understanding of certain situations. So, decisions are being made, but I’m not always the final decision maker. And, now that I think about it, we focus on technology and we’re always creating new versions of software. What if we used that same approach to our decision making? So, we could say that we need version 2.0 of this decision by a certain date, but we can continue to make revisions or adjustments and revisit that decision later down the road. More of an iterative approach to decisions, as we take with our work.

The conversation continued, and the Leader and coach explored strategies that the Leader could implement to leverage both the upsides of being Inclusive and Decisive—while minimizing the downsides of each. The Coach then continued with the assessment tool to examine the other polarities around feeling Valued and the last one around feeling Empowered. These three areas, which we will review later in this article, were the three pillars that helped this Leader turn her team around. 

Introducing a Dynamic View of Leadership

Through our work in Executive Coaching, we continue to notice leaders who hold on to one style and resist the feedback to change. Why? In many cases, the feedback is filtered in a way that the leader hears the feedback as a downside or deficiency rather than an upside or strength. As an example, based on the Case Study presented in this article, the Leader heard the feedback to be more decisive as a negative. Her team wanted her to leverage this skill positively (Quadrant III), but she interpreted this feedback as if the team had suggested they now wanted her to make all of the decisions, or “just tell us what to do” (which is Quadrant IV).

As consultants, coaches, and psychologists, we were curious to determine how a coach could help a leader assess their style on the continuum of leading. Take Decisiveness— too little Decisiveness and you won’t get results, too much and you could shut people down. There is also a continuum for Inclusiveness. Too little Inclusiveness and people won’t feel part of the team and too much, and they will feel that nothing gets resolved. This holds true for virtually any leadership behavior, regardless of the style or approach. Furthermore, Decisiveness and Inclusiveness two are interdependent pairs. When you lean too far into Decisiveness over time, you will impact Inclusiveness and vice versa.

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