Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership The Ark of Leadership: A First Sample Chapter

The Ark of Leadership: A First Sample Chapter

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Similarly, the nature of a task or the processes of leadership in the organization may change. Leaders must shift gears when entering varying situations. If they are effective, however, leaders will also influence these situations. As a result, leaders may be forced to shift roles precisely because they have helped to bring about a change in context. This is a give-and-take process that requires guidelines regarding the contexts in which each of the four styles is most (and least) appropriate. We offer some preliminary ideas regarding these guidelines and suggest that leadership coaching often focuses on these guidelines.

With the assistance of her coach, our high-tech leader can readily identify her own preferred style. She can also identify one or more of the strengths associated with each of the four styles, particularly as these strengths are used in an appropriate or inappropriate manner by this leader in the multiple contexts in which she finds herself every day in the workplace. Our long-time production leader can similarly identify one or more of the strengths associated with each of the four styles, particularly strengths related to working with a new team or with an old team that must change. In both cases, an executive coach who takes an appreciative approach can help their client identify moments in the past when they have been successful in the engagement of leadership styles and practices that are outside their usual wheelhouse.

Given this desire for and commitment to learning about, embracing and appreciating past successful use of specific styles and performance preferences, we turn to the fundamentals regarding the context within which each style and affiliated leadership practice is often most appropriate.

The Assertive (Red) Leader and Best Practice 2

In many settings, a forceful, clearly focused demonstration of executive authority is not only appropriate but also sorely needed. This is especially the case when the environment in which an organization is operating tends to be volatile and unpredictable. Innovation is required alongside a leaning toward action. The assertive decision-making leader is one who points an organization in a specific direction and gets the organization moving.


Heifetz describes this approach to leadership when he writes of people who tend to mobilize others to tackle tough problems.[iii] Leadership, in this mode, is not just a stance or perspective. It is an activity. Assertive (red) leaders are seen as hard working and as people who also encourage others to work hard. At their best, these leaders not only promote innovation, but also collaboration (Best Practice 2). Specifically, the job of an assertive leader who is engaging Best Practice 2 is to identify the gap(s) that exist between the current and desired conditions of the organization.

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