Entrepreneurial Leadership: Be The Best Part I

I’ve had the pleasure, and displeasure of working for others. For those entrepreneurs that have never needed to earn extra income by working for others, I commend you. For those who have never experienced “the boss from hell,” and even for those who have, it is important to understand the six different leadership styles identified by Daniel Goleman in his article “Leadership That Gets Results” published in the March-April 2000 Harvard Business Review. Goleman identifies the six leadership styles as: Coercive, Authoritative, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting, and Coaching.

In the first part of this two part post I will begin with the two negative leadership styles; two leadership styles we must learn to avoid and try to eliminate, the Coercive and Pacesetting leadership styles.

Coercive – A coercive leader essentially uses scare tactics to produce results. The coercive leadership style brings a quick fix, but disrupts the organizations climate when doing so. Carl Icahn’s reputation as a corporate raider is an example of a coercive leader. He purchases distressed businesses, demands immediate compliance to his recommendations, cleans house, adds value, then sells off; the remaining employees are left scared, looking over their shoulders, and a negative working environment is created. We will never have a positive working environment with happy employees by using coercive leadership. Through your entrepreneurial journeys avoid the coercive leadership style or you may find yourself helpless, literally.

Pacesetting – “The hallmarks of the pacesetting style sound admirable. The leader sets extremely high performance standards and exemplifies them himself. He is obsessive about doing things better and faster, and he asks the same of everyone around him. He quickly pinpoints poor performers and demands more from them. If they don’t rise to the occasion, he replaces them with people who can. You would think such an approach would improve results, but it DOESN’T. In fact, the pacesetting style destroys climate.” – Goleman

The pacesetter’s biggest weakness is his/her inability to clearly state guidelines; if you don’t know how to complete the job, then you must be the wrong person for it attitude. Also, pacesetting leaders tend to lack feedback for his/her employees; the pacesetter believes the job can always be done better. My impression of a pacesetter is a leader who thinks he/she is the best person in the world at what he/she does, and is scared to give guidance in fear that someone else might some day be better than him/her. Pacesetters also attribute past and present employee successes to himself/herself, and not to the employee. I had the displeasure of working for a pacesetting leader once; an experience which killed my morale. An experience I cherish, because his leadership style pushed me to leave his company to start my own. If you want to retain intelligent high value employees, provide guidance and avoid the pacesetting leadership style.

To be continued…

Positive leadership styles coming soon


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