“There is no single ‘right’ way to lead.”
If you’ve worked with MRG, you may have heard an expression like this before. Over nearly four decades in the field of leadership assessment, a cornerstone of the MRG philosophy has been embracing diverse approaches to leadership. Different contexts – organizations, roles, challenges – may call for different approaches, behaviors, or types of leaders.
Organizations are often tempted to establish a narrow definition of leadership, then reward those who fall within those parameters (and leave other leaders behind, or create a culture where their ideas are less welcome). From decades of research and practical experience, we have learned that organizations are more likely to thrive when they encourage the development of a variety of authentic leaders who can bring more diverse perspectives to bear – allowing for innovation, shared leadership, and diversity of thought.
But if there’s no “right” way to lead, does that mean anything goes when it comes to leadership? Definitely not. We have conducted countless studies over the years to identify behaviors that correlate with leadership effectiveness (check out our Best Practice Reports for many examples of behaviors that are associated with effectiveness in a variety of contexts).
And conversely, our research has identified four behavior profiles may be associated with less effective leadership. Keeping an eye out for leaders with these profiles – we call them the “derailers” – can help organizations and coaches recognize the early signs that they are struggling, and get them the specific support they need to get back on course.
We were invited to speak on this topic at the ATD Conference in 2020. After our first time speaking at this high-energy event in 2019, we were eager to return, but of course that was not to be. Thankfully, we were still able to share our findings with the ATD community by contributing an article to the March 2021 issue of Talent Development Magazine, and we were proud to be selected as the cover story.