Early in my entrepreneurial endeavors I found it an increasing struggle to work with one of the businesses I was heavily involved with. I loved the project and was rewarded by what we were creating, but I found myself unhappy, inefficient, and resentful. Quickly I came to realize that it wasn't the project itself that was causing me such agita, but the person leading the project. I started researching personality types in the workplace in the hopes of figuring out how I could find a win-win situation that would allow me to continue to work on the project while improving my interactions with the team’s leader at the same time. After a little reading and talking with people I ended up creating a chart of leadership traits I call, The Leadership Fulcrum.
#1) Passive Leader
- You disrespect yourself
- Other peoples’ needs come first
- Team members end up making their own agendas
- The vision in your mind is usurped by the vision in their minds
- Your lack of boundaries creates chaos and uncertainty
#2) Assertive Leader
- You respect yourself AND others
- You consider your needs as well as those of your workers
- Team members contribute to your agenda
- Your vision is a beacon for your people to follow
- Your boundaries create respect and team buy-in
#3) Aggressive Leader
- You disrespect others
- Your needs come first
- Team members become paralyzed by your agenda
- Your vision alone isn’t strong enough to keep people following you
- Your rigid boundaries create resentment amongst your team members
The fulcrum sits directly in the middle of the seesaw, just like with these three types of leaders. If you are too far on either side of the fulcrum, the balance is tipped, creating extreme inefficiencies and unnecessary costs and delays to your project.
If you find yourself conflicted about someone you work for or with then ask yourself, what is this person’s predominant stance: passive, assertive, or aggressive?
If you find your team is not executing your vision or agenda then ask yourself, what is YOUR predominant stance: passive, assertive, or aggressive?
Whether your self-analysis reveals that you are the antagonist or that someone you work with is the antagonist, now is the time to find ways to shift towards balance.
In the case of my early business years I found that although I enjoyed the project, I had to leave because I was unable to find a balance strong enough to create a positive work environment.
Now, no one I know sits in the center of the fulcrum at all times and sometimes moving from one side of the scale to another is strategic or necessary. If, however, being strictly passive or aggressive is the only stance in play, then desire & energy will be needed to build new patterns towards a more balanced leadership style. The question is, how much of your own, or your organization’s, time and resources are you going to allow to fall off the seesaw?
Michael Ian Cedar is the Lead Producer of the Concierge program at EngagedLeadership.