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Leader style is usually formed through an emergent effect influenced by a dance between capability and bias. Capability to evaluate bias on the fly—in often very tension-loaded circumstances—results in adaptive use of style.

Scaffold, Don’t Change?
Most accomplished leaders behave very adaptively in the absence of much tension with plenty of time. It is when they are under “level-busting load” that style becomes a critical factor in leader behavior. It is also a reason that scaffolds are necessary for peak function.

Postmodern Leaders Are ALWAYS Under Tension
Why we have to be concerned with style as leader behavior modelers relates to the idea that leadership—which matters—is almost always evaluated UNDER TENSION.

Therefore, the person is most likely pushed back against the wall, or squeezed by the limits of their capability, to reveal bias and capability — in a set of conditions — through what could be categorized by and named by others as their STYLE under pressure.

I’ve noted this before, but it’s important to note it again for the record, that STYLE is almost always described by how others perceive the leader’s behavior and not what the leader intends!

Tension Dictates Style Emergence
When the going gets rough, people reveal their style as “bias modified by capability” as they are successful in “holding that “bias” as object in those HIGH-TENSION MOMENTS. This is probably one of the greatest flaws in our current leader selection process. We are “just too nice” and PC (Politically Correct) while reducing tension. Instead of creating the circumstances where people will reveal these critical components of capability, bias and style, producing style diversity under load, we let them off the hook during selection.

Use Tension to Shift Selection of Leaders
Our interviewing processes don’t include enough tension, or load to properly evaluate ‘style under tension’. Our group processes are almost always seeking to minimize conflict for various reasons leading to hallucination, undiscussables, and a lot of elephant management in a PC environment that leads to lower levels of productivity, collaboration, and well-being/results over time; in my experience with VUCA conditions.

Style Similar to Golf?
Over the past decade, on the shoulders of many important theoreticians, I have developed a LEADER STYLE assessment model outlining 16 Styles or patterns of leader behavior. While every leader has a number of styles — suited for different situations, like a golfer with a bag of clubs — we have our favorites, especially under load. Outlining those favorites in some priority for different situations is going to open the door to the revelation of our preferred styles, creating opportunities for fitness in terms of design and scaffolding for behavior under load; it also provides “psychoactive support!”

Quick Example:
If I use an unproductive or unhealthy component of say… my controlling style in specific conditions and I understand that, I can actually scaffold that behavior in several different ways to avoid the negative consequences of that style and its emergence at inopportune times.

If I am aware of the negative sentiment or affect that occurs as a result of using those styles compressed under load, I can look for signals, triggers, and states that occur before and during the emergence of style and either hand it off collaboratively, withdrawing to allow someone with a healthy perspective, or adaptive style to scaffold my behavior.

Natural Style Is Essential, Even With Negative Consequences?
The trick is NOT to buy into the idea put forward in Blank Slate—read BS—that states that everyone can and should change and work to remove limitations. After almost three decades of coaching, I realize that “style” is there for a reason, and to try to remove, or limit style, often chips away an important part of the leader, while providing only slight shifts in performance and development.

Scaffolding Style Is Critical for Postmodern Leaders
While some will see this as perhaps a “copout” it’s clear that this kind of design prevents significant damage to the leader and follower. Many of these types of “personality flaws” emerge from trying to use “what got you here, to keep you here.”

Current matrix of indicators as a puzzle, which suggests LEADER STYLE v12.

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    Mike R. Jay is a developmentalist utilizing consulting, coaching, mentoring and advising as methods to offer developmental scaffolding for aspiring leaders who are interested in being, doing, having, becoming, and contributing… to helping people have lives.

    Mike R. Jay
    Leadership University

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