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The Four Wires of Leadership

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First Wire Leadership

This type of leadership would be very controlling. I reflect back to the classic theories of leadership style offered by Blake and Mouton and by Hersey and Blanchard. When I dust off these theories, I find that first wire leadership would be comparable to Blake and Mouton’s 9/1 leadership style and Hersey and Blanchard’s sector one leadership. First wire leadership might be appropriate if the team is moving in the wrong direction (too low) or is moving too fast (not careful enough in their considerations).

This first wire style of leadership is not appropriate when it stopes the team abruptly—that is when the leader exerts too much control and authority. Unfortunately, first wire leadership can be very addictive. It is exciting when the plane hits the first wire and stops abruptly. It is exciting (crisis management) when the crew must shove the plane off the runway. A lot of addictive neurochemicals undoubtedly are released for the pilot and carrier crew – but the resulting addictive rush can lead to further bad decisions and eventually to individual and collective exhaustion.

Second Wire Leadership

This is often the best wire—not too near the stern of the carrier–yet does not yield an abrupt stop (like first wire leadership). As Blake and Mouton suggested, second wire leadership is an effective blending of task and relationship. Hersey and Blanchard similarly describe this sector two leadership as appropriate for a team that has earned the trust of their leader (with regard to setting high but realistic goals, possessing task-related expertise and exhibiting an effective mode of operations as a team)—much as in the case of the pilot who comes in at the right angle and at the right speed. The pilot who is stopped by the second arresting wire might not generate as much initial excitement as the first wire pilot—but this pilot generates much less stress on either the wire or the crew.

Third Wire Leadership

It is fine that a plot stops at this third wire—though it might at times be too close to the fourth wire for the pilot and crew to feel comfortable. Still an acceptable stopping point, especially if the crew recognizes that the pilot knows “what he/she is doing”.

For the leader of a team, third wire leadership is about an emphasis on relationship and not so much task. This style of leadership (in either the Blake and Mouton or Hersey and Blanchard model) is for older and more experienced teams. On the aircraft carrier, the more “seasoned” crew members and pilots aren’t stressed out when the plane stops at the third wire—they’ve seen it many times before.

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