Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership The Leadership Spectrum: II. Blended Perspectives and Practices

The Leadership Spectrum: II. Blended Perspectives and Practices

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 Effective leadership requires something more than pragmatism. It requires a balance between, or even an integration of the three different perspectives. The Rainbow leader can provide this balance and even an integration of these perspectives. This requires that pragmatism, realism, idealism, and activism be combined or used in turn, situationally. Effective problem solving and planning will shift between the domains of information, intentions, and ideas. When confronted with a new, unpredictable situation, a balanced problem-solving leader will tend to become realistic by attempting to assimilate this new reality. When confronted with an old, unchanging environment, the balanced problem-solving leader will tend to become more of a daydreamer, creating images of how this environment might be transformed. When confronted with the press of time and events, the balanced leader will tend to mobilize their activism, creating proposals to meet these challenges. They will engage their own pragmatism (or the pragmatism of others in their team/group) when expediency would save the day and would gain the organization some time and money to regroup and redirect its efforts.

The balanced Rainbow leader is someone who will adapt to changing conditions by moving through all three domains. By contrast, the extreme realist will attempt to collect information even when the environment is unchanging. In this way, the extreme realist will contribute to the resistance of this environment to change. Similarly, the extreme idealist will daydream not only un- der conditions of relative stability, where a shake-up would be beneficial, but also under conditions of rapid change and instability, and in this way will add to the instability of the environment and to its unpredictability. The idealist under stress retreats to another, safer world, when he or she should be confronting the current situation. The extreme activist will respond with hasty actions even when there is no press of time or events. He will even create crises where there are none in order to justify precipitous action. The failure in the activist’s haste may in turn produce a new crisis that makes activism appear to be appropriate, thereby initiating a self-reinforcing crisis-management mentality.

Put quite simply, all four of these extreme preferences tend to be ineffective in some settings and to create more problems than they solve. Reflection must be balanced against action. Furthermore, the period of reflection must provide opportunities for both the collection of new information and the clarification of intentions. An effective balancing and integration of reflection and action requires that action produce and be based on information, that action inform and clarify intentions, and that reflection lead to decision and action. The successful process of Rainbow integration inevitably involves movement between the domains of information, intentions and ideas, and a balancing between reflection and action.

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