Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership The Leadership Spectrum: I. Three Primary Perspectives and Practices

The Leadership Spectrum: I. Three Primary Perspectives and Practices

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The Ruby Red Relationship

In their interactions with other people, the Ruby Red leader tends to be assertive and quite clear about what they would like to see in (and want from) their relationships. They tend to build their relationship around shared engagement and their relationships are often most pleasing for them when it accomplishes something important (and perhaps even unanticipated). The best working environment for someone with a Ruby Red orientation is one in which there exists strong formal accountability. It is an environment in which there are concise and often quantifiable goals (management by objectives) and in which costs and benefits can be enumerated (return on investment). “I want to know when I have scored a point and don’t want the goal posts to be moving!”

Karen Horney is a noted and often controversial psychoanalysts. She was one of the first analysts to challenge Sigmund Freud’s theory about the Oedipus Complex and the female’s envy of men. She also was among the first analysts to write books for a lay population and, in doing so, presented a compelling theory regarding interpersonal relationships. She suggested that each of us, under conditions of anxiety (especially if it is related to our relationship with other people), is inclined to take one of three actions in relating to other people. We can move toward other people, away from other people or against other people. Her description of the preference to move against other people fits with our description of the Ruby Red leader. When confronted with a difficult or contentious relationship, the Ruby Red leader will push against and often confront the other person.

We can point to other theories that reveal a similar pattern. Will Schutz (1994) writes about our three interpersonal needs (inclusion, control, and openness/affection) and would conclude that the Ruby Red leader is likely to have a strong need for control. In the case of the Jungian-based Myers-Briggs (Briggs Myers and Myers, 1995) model of personality, we can speculate that Ruby Red leadership are likely to be aligned with the judging function. We would also offer a somewhat controversial suggestion that the Ruby Red leader (at least in extreme form) is Introverted (rather than Extraverted)—in that this person is disposed to lead unilaterally rather than in relationship to other people. We will even go on to propose that all three of the primary leadership styles (in extreme form) are introverted. It is only in the fourth (Rainbow) style (to which we turn in the second essay) that we find a strong commitment to Extraversion – and will find the same thing to be the case with less extreme forms of each primary style and in the three blended styles (Orange, Green and Purple).

Finally, we turn to the insight-rich model of personality to be found in the Enneagram. Some of the major theorists in the world of the Enneagram (e.g. Riso and Hudson, 1996; Wagner, 2010) actually built their model of the nine Enneagram points around the three interpersonal orientations of Karen Horney. So, it is not too difficult to arrive at the conclusion that the Ruby Red leader is likely to align with three of the Enneagram types: 8, 3 and 1. The 8 type is often defined as being assertive, while the 1 is oriented toward perfection and the 3 toward accomplishment. When you put these three types together, an insightful portrait of the Ruby Red leadership styles emerges.

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