The feeling in my stomach was sickening. At first, I sat there in slight disbelief with the simple thought running through my head over and over, “How in the world could my team possibly rate me like this?” As I continued through my leader report, the feeling didn’t get better as I read, “He micromanages a lot” and “He treats people differently based on who you are.” Candidly, it was hard to read. As I sat back in my chair fighting off feelings of anger and disappointment, I saw the words a mentor had spoken to me that I had written on a notecard:
“Don’t ever underestimate anyone”
I had been underestimating my team and failing to empower them to become the best version of themselves.
I hope you have never had the experience of your own team saying negative things about you, but I am sure you can relate. For me it was the green light I needed to improve and make real lasting change to ultimately become a more effective leader.
Fast forward 4 years and we have set out to make sure those feelings don’t happen to you. A recent survey we conducted revealed what the most effective leaders do differently. In short, it’s their ability to lead with high levels of both love and discipline, simultaneously, or in what we call “the Welding Zone.”
Love & Discipline are defined as:
Love (verb): To contribute to someone’s long term success and well being.
Discipline (verb): To promote standards in order for an individual to choose to be at their best
From the survey results, 4 distinct Leader Profiles became evident depending on the levels of Love and Discipline a leader leveraged.
The Exploiter has never been about the team and thinks about number one first. They often use their positions of power to rule from the high tower, push people instead of pull, and rarely lead from the front lines. Here are a few other highlights:
- Scores low in love and discipline.
- Manipulates situations to their advantage.
- Rarely loved by their direct reports.
- Highly driven by financial success.
The Pleaser has a difficult time giving constructive feedback and prefers harmony over conflict or discomfort. They often let poor behavior or questionable work go without saying a word in an effort to “protect” the other person’s feelings.
- Scores high in love, low in discipline.
- Looks out for the interest of others over their own.
- May get taken advantage of by their direct reports.
- Often passed over for promotions.
The Ruler loves process, whether it’s needed or not. They love to feel in control and conflict often arises if their control is threatened. They keep their direct reports at a distance and spend little to no time building relationships.
- Scores high in discipline, low in love.
- Driven by a set rule-book. Rigid.
- Typically gets good or bad results quickly.
- May have a difficult time sustaining long-term success due to team burnout.
The Welder is the leader people want to follow. They pull people, as opposed to pushing them. They don’t shy away from jumping right in on the front lines. They aren’t afraid to show some tough love and have the difficult conversations in order to help their people reach higher levels of performance.
- Scores high in discipline, high in love.
- Has deep relationship with their direct reports.
- Generates organizational leaders from direct reports.
- Sustains long-term success and results.
The good news is, no matter what profile you are today, you aren’t stuck to one particular profile. Leadership is a journey not a destination. So even if you have had that sick feeling in your stomach like I did when looking at real assessment responses from my team, it should be comforting knowing you have the ability to improve.
Free Leader Profile Assessment Through our work and research around what effective leaders do differently, we have identified four leader profiles (Ruler, Exploiter, Pleaser and Welder.) Find out which one you are for free.
About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft and host of the Follow My Lead Podcast. He is also the author of F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader, a contributing editor on Inc.com, and is passionate about the development of modern professionals. You follow him on instagram @johngeades. Special credit for the article goes to Christina Wilder one of the most gifted professionals I have ever seen.