Category Archives: Leadership

What type of leader are you?

What type of leader are you?

 Have you ever wondered what type of leader you are? Years of leadership research tells us that not all leaders use the same strategies to influence their followers. Your personality helps to shape your preferred approach to leadership.  For example some leaders are more comfortable with building relationships with their subordinates while others are task driven.  Training and experience can also influence your leadership style. However, when we are under stress or when it isn’t clear how we should lead our subordinates we tend to gravitate to our natural style based on our personality.  Below we describe five major approaches to leadership.  Which one fits you best?

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leaders are those who rely primarily on rewards and punishments to influence their subordinates. They tend to be task oriented and focus on goal achievement. For example, a transactional leader is likely to identify goals for followers to achieve and then reward or punish them depending on whether they met the goal. Transactional leaders can be very effective in some work environments but are often viewed as less effective than Transformational leaders who rely more on galvanizing followers to a powerful vision of the organization.

An example of a famous transactional leader is Apple’s Steve Jobs, who is well known for his reward/punishment style and task focused leadership.

 Passive Leadership

Passive Leadership style is associated with leaders who tend to allow events to unfold with minimum guidance or input until something goes wrong. Then they tend to become more involved in identifying who created the problem and correcting them. This style of leadership is considered to be the least effective and most likely to generate negative feelings in subordinates.

 Charismatic Leadership

The most difficult leadership style to predict is Charismatic Leadership. Charismatic people are individuals who have a tendency to draw others to them. People want to be associated with them and will follow them just to be associated with them. Whether in the entertainment field (e.g. Oprah Winfrey, Johnny Depp), politics (e.g., Winston Churchill, Barack Obama) or business, charismatic people are considered to be ‘natural’ leaders. Charismatic leadership potential measures the aptitude of an individual for succeeding in a charismatic leadership role. Research shows there are some personality variables that can help predict who is likely to be seen as charismatic. Of all the leadership styles, however, this is the hardest to predict.

Famous Charismatic leaders include: Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Records, and Lee Iaccoca of Chrysler, and Jack Welch of GE.

 Leader Consideration

Leader Consideration reflects the extent to which the leader is likely to engage in building relationships with subordinates as an integral part of their approach to management. Leaders scoring high in this measure are likely to spend time to get to know their employees well and place a high emphasis on keeping employees happy through positive relationships. Low scorers on Leader Consideration tend to avoid building close bonds with their subordinates and prefer to maintain a professional distance.

 Initiating Structure

Initiating Structure is the tendency of a leader to focus on tasks and goals. Leaders high on initiating structure tend to provide a lot of input on task completion for their subordinates. They tend to prefer to set goals for their subordinates and follow up on those goals consistently.

Our system assesses your natural leadership style based on your personality. For more information contact us at

Organizational Culture Series Part I: Friendliness and Pace

My story begins in the small town of Ames Iowa.  Not exactly the kind of place you would expect to go to study organizational culture but I find myself at a small but rapidly growing tech company called Webfilings to talk about their culture and their recruiting systems.

I already had a copy of their culture report based on comprehensive surveys of their employees.  Two things that stood out in the culture survey became immediately apparent moments after walking through their doors- Friendliness and Pace.  Webfilings oozed both of these qualities- a rare combination.  First and foremost what struck me was the warm and welcoming atmosphere. From the receptionist to senior management I was immediately welcomed.  I felt like I had walked into a family gathering and was an honoured guest.  During my stay I was always greeted with generous smiles and sincere queries into my accommodations and wellbeing.  I have no doubt that some of that friendliness was a result of the Iowan culture in general which is well known for its hospitality.  It was also clearly a deliberate result of Webfilings management to create this atmosphere.  As a software company, they compete directly with attractive employers like Google and Facebook for talent.  Webfilings had built itself from the ground up to be a sharing collaborative environment that could attract smart, young programmers and support personnel.  A large lunch hall provided free catered meals served at long tables with bench-style seating to encourage sharing meals together.  Team rooms dotted the scattered complex to encourage open discussion. Senior managers dressed in casual clothes and it was often impossible to tell by looking who was in charge.

I noticed that everyone’s workspace was dotted with rubber ducks and I asked why these were everywhere.  It turns out that the Webfilings buildings are located near a large concrete water drainage structure and when it rains it turns into a temporary stream.  To blow off steam some of the founding employees decided one rainy day to race some rubber ducks.  Now all new hires find themselves purchasing their own lucky ducks- some are decorated in racing stripes and other identifying features.  When it rains Webfilings employees can be found racing them together. A shared moment of joy in the rain to break up a hectic day.  One more part of their friendly culture.  It was hard not to have a corporate crush on Webfilings.

However, to say Webfilings was hectic is an understatement.  Their Pace score compared to over 1200 companies in our culture database was off the charts- well over the 90th percentile.  Hectic frenzied activity was a hallmark of this junior company.  Webfilings was abuzz with activity, an excitement that permeated the place.  In preparing for my visit it wasn’t unusual to receive e-mails sent at 2 or 3 a.m. from senior managers taking care of business in the wee hours.  I got a sense of what their daily schedules were like.  During my day and a half workshop the attendees were constantly changing with people darting in and out to take care of urgent business.  Smart phones clicked, buzzed and whirred and you learned quickly to cut to the chase or risk losing your preoccupied audience.  Despite the frantic pace of activity, Webfilings employees seemed genuinely excited and happy to be there.  In a country that has experienced considerable setbacks in employment, I sensed that the employees were proud and energized by their shared success.

Moving forward, rapidly growing companies like Webfilings are the most vulnerable to unintended cultural change.  Each new hire has the potential to influence the corporate culture- particularly at the management level.  It was clear that they liked who they were as a company and hiring new employees who fit into their culture was a priority for them. It was one of the many levers they were pushing to steer their little company in the direction they desired.


Derek Chapman, Ph.D.President & Founder

The Dark Triad of Leadership

The Dark Triad of Leadership

If you have ever encountered an arrogant, self-serving, manipulative leader who has made your life difficult, this article is for you. Three key personality traits define these toxic leaders: Narcissism (self-loving and arrogance); Psychopathy (an inability to feel empathy for others) and Machiavellianism (a desire to gain power and status by manipulating and using others). Together they are known as the ‘Dark Triad’ as they are known to predict severe consequences for organizations from fraud to creating toxic environments where your best workers leave you for saner pastures. Leaders with these traits feel nothing for employees, suppliers, and other stakeholders. They desire power, wealth and status above all else and are willing to lie, cheat, manipulate and steal to get what they feel they deserve. They believe rules are for suckers and you need to ‘play the game to win’ or you are just another pawn. Our instruments identify leaders who possess these traits and help you screen them out before they wreak havoc in your organization. Avoiding one leader with this Dark Triad is often worth more than the cost of using the reports for a year alone. If you have encountered a leader with these traits you understand how important it is to screen them out.