A sense of real frustration had set in. The team wasn’t meeting the expectations I had for them and not one team member seemed to be getting better. It felt as though we were stuck in quicksand with no relief in sight. So I did what most inexperienced leaders do, made changes on the team.
It was during one particular meeting while letting a team member go, that it was beyond evident from the dialogue that the problem didn’t lie with my team member, the problem lied in me. I was living proof that Jocko Willink’s quote couldn’t be truer:
“There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.”―Jocko Willink
It was in that moment that I decided not only would I make major changes in myself as a leader but I would do everything in my power to help others not make the same mistake as well. Thus a relentless commitment to learning, growing, and teaching was born.
Fast-forward four years and after 10 seasons of interviewing some of the best leaders on the planet and completing research of over 17,000 leaders, it has revealed what the most effective leaders do differently. In short, it’s their ability to simultaneously lead with high levels of both love and discipline–what’s called “the Welding Zone.”
In case you are unfamiliar, we define the terms this way:
Love (v): To contribute to someone’s long-term success and well-being
Discipline (v): To promote standards in order for an individual to choose to be at their best
Just a couple week ago, on the Follow My Lead Podcast, Leadership and Change Management expert Patrick Lencioni said something that blended the two terms so well:
“Holding people accountable for their behavior is an act of love.”
From the research survey results, five distinct leader profiles became evident depending on the levels of love and discipline a leader leveraged.
The exploiter at their core thinks about themselves before others. The idea of leadership being about serving and empowering others doesn’t make sense to them until their team starts to rebel, and even then they just blame others. They rarely get maximum effort from their team. You could easily spot an exploiter if you looked at the browsing history of their team because it would be filled with glassdoor.com, monster.com or LinkedIn messages from recruiters.
- Scores low in love and discipline
- Rarely loved by their direct reports
- Highly driven by financial success
The pleaser tends to avoid conflict at all costs and prefers the sensation of harmony. They rarely give constructive feedback or hold people accountable in fear they might upset those that they lead. Pleasers also tend to be okay with mediocre performance for an extended period of time.
- Scores high in love, low in discipline.
- May get taken advantage of by their direct reports.
- Often passed over for promotions.
Rulers love authority and people tend to follow them because of fear. They rely heavily on rules/processes and live by the motto, “my way or the highway.” Conflict might as well be their middle name, because the minute they sense their control or power is being eroded they know it.
- Scores high in discipline, low in love.
- Driven by a set rule-book. Rigid.
- Typically gets good or bad results quickly.
The dabbler tends to have good relationships with their people, just not great. They usually meet team goals and objectives but never blow them out of the water. One common complaint we hear from people who report to a Dabbler is, “Not sure exactly what leader is going to walk through the door today.”
- Score middle of the road on discipline and love
- Leverages both love and discipline just not always enough
- Gets good results, not great
The welder profile got its name because much like a welder these leaders simultaneously bring together love and discipline at high levels. These leaders have low turnover rates and their people often will follow them to different roles when they get promoted or take a new job. They also create more leaders, not more followers and consistently get above average or great results.
- Scores high in discipline and love.
- Has deep relationship with their direct reports.
- Sustains long-term success and results.
The best news is no matter what leader profile you most identify with, leadership is a journey and not a destination. You can begin changing your mindset and your actions to become a better leader today.
A version of this article originally appeared on Inc.com.
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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, and is passionate about the development of modern professionals. Follow him on instagram @johngeades.