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The Leadership Spectrum: II. Blended Perspectives and Practices

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The Blending of Leadership Styles

While the Rainbow orientation and style of leadership brings together all three of the primary orientations and ways of being a leader, there are combinations of two orientations that yield interesting and important variations on the four other styles. I have once again borrowed from the color spectrum in identifying and describing each of these blends. Orange is constituted of red and yellow. Green is produced by combing yellow and blue. When red and blue are combined the color, purple is produced. I will briefly describe each of these three blends and even suggest ways in which there are slight variations on a specific blend depending on the proportion of each color (style/orientation) in this blend. I begin with Orange.

Tangy Orange: Thoughtful Action

As a combination of Ruby Red and Golden Yellow, the Tangy Orange style of leadership and the Tangy Orange orientation to the world of organizational life is focused on moving to action (Ruby Red) in a thoughtful, data-driven (Golden Yellow) manner. It is a “tangy” orientation because it can be a bit pungent and bitter—given the challenge of engaging action in the midst of a world that is often volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous, turbulent and contradictory (VUCA-Plus).

When we turn to the MBTI functions, the Tangy Orange orientation is clearly aligned with the sensing function—it is all about reality as both the source of information and the arena in which the Tangy Orange leader will be operating (just the opposite from Azure Blue). There is also a tendency to see reality as a not very pleasant place in which to operate (enneagram: type 6)—think of the external threat category in a SWOT analysis (along with the internal weakness category). In planning meetings, one is likely to see the Azure Blues focusing on internal strengths and external opportunities in reaction against the more “negative” appraisals of those with a Tangy Orange orientation.

At the more Golden Yellow end of Tangy Orange, we find advocates for longer-term strategic planning with an emphasis on the systematic collection and organization of data to achieve specifiable and measurable goals. Conversely, at the Ruby Red end of Tangy Orange we are likely to find advocates for short term tactical planning with an emphasis on “just-in-time” data gathering and analysis, along with the focus on “action learning” that we described regarding the Rainbow orientation (the emphasis in a reddish Tangy Orange orientation is on action rather than on learning).

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