This report includes a discussion on six vignettes, each of them providing a different scenario or a case study, all including a certain leadership style as suggested by Daniel Goleman. The aim of each of these vignettes is to aid the application of Goleman’s leadership styles namely Coercive, Visionary, Affiliative, Democratic, Pace setting and Coaching. Every vignette highlights a particular style, and the case demands that the leadership style be identified, with justification and factual evidence from the case excerpts. In addition, a real-life scenario where each of the leadership styles could be applicable has also been reported.
1. Vignette 1: Fire alarm in Bucharest
The vignette is set around a fire alarm situation in Bucharest, where the expectation of the staff from the local bosses after the alarm goes off would be for someone to take control and lead the team out of the office. However, the bosses remained silent for some reason and only on initiation from a panic-struck member of the audience; the entire team started making its way to the exits.
A particular lack of a leadership style is missing from this vignette, that of a coercive leader. This is visible since none of the bosses took an initiative when unquestioned rapid actions were required. The reaction that the engineer expected from his local bosses was for them to take immediate command of the situation, and direct the staff out of the office. Goleman suggests that a coercive leader works best in a situation where in a crisis, a kick-start to turnaround the situation (Goleman, 2000). However, due to the local bosses’ lack of a reaction, possibly due to them expecting the visiting boss to take charge, they were unable to take control and issue an order to ensure a smooth and safe passage out of the office. In this scenario, it would have been ideal for one of the bosses to take initiative and proactively take command, just as a coercive leader would do.
A coercive leader works best in a situation where an organization, over time fails to sell its core product due to a lack of seriousness from the sales team. The vice president of sales then decides to implement a commanding approach, where he threatens the sales team to upsell and follow up better with their leads, or risk corrective action. This ensures the team focuses on improving sales, which would in turn bring in profits for the company and reap benefits on the entire organization.
2. Vignette 2: “Michael is an excellent analyst. It’s time for him to become a manager”
This vignette covers the story of Michael, a leader for a team of analysts in a large company. He has earned a high reputation for carrying out quality and trustworthy work, and ensures tasks are completed before any of the competitors. Michael usually entrusts a few members of his team with the major tasks. In addition, on a member of his team missing work due to a personal incident, Michael chooses to complete her work himself rather than delegating it.
The leadership style followed by Michael is that of a pace-setting leader. Goleman suggests that these type of leaders set extremely high performance standards and demonstrate it themselves. They tend to be obsessive about doing things quicker and with improved quality, and asks the same of everyone around them. (Goleman, 2000). Michael’s ability to dictate the pace of the work done by himself, along with the fact that he more often than not chooses to roll up his sleeves and get involved in the work is a direct relation to what a pace-setting leader would do.
As a pace-setting leader, the criteria set by him for his team are high, and the expectations for his team to match those standards are even higher. Additionally, the higher authorities indicating that he needs to delegate more and be involved at a higher level for cross-functional projects is contrary to Michael’s belief that a lack of his personal involvement would lead to a compromise on work in terms of quality.
An ideal scenario for a pace-setting leader to function would be in a startup software company that comprises of the CEO (a coder himself) and his team, who code, test and deploys software per the task division given by the CEO. At a point of time, a venture capitalist decides to invest in the organization however, demands a new feature to be incorporated for a prototype launch in a month. The CEO then adopts a pace-setting style of leadership where he takes the lead to set the pace of the team, get involved in the coding process and ensure the product is ready by the end of the month.
3. Vignette 3: Conflicts in Prague
The vignette is set around a conversation held between two managers in the city of London, discussing a conflict of interest between the organization’s production manager and commercial manager, both of whom are in Prague. The manager (Manager B) is keen on having a trip made to the capital of Czech Republic to help sort the situation, and enable both the opposed managers to work with each other in this time of crisis.
Manager B exhibit the style of an affiliative leader. According to Goleman, an affiliative style is applicable when trying to enhance team coherence, increase morale, or improve communication (Murray, 2009). This style of leadership (University of Florida, 2016) is highly focused on creating trust and the emotional bonds that promote belonging to the organization or department. Manager B demonstrates empathy through his approach, to solve matters by wanting to travel to Prague. He wishes to show support through difficult times, and help them both overcome their low points. His leadership style is well applicable, as the circumstance is stressful and he realizes that both the managers are doing their best. They are aware of their problems, and of how to tackle it. The two members would need support from higher management, and not demands or threats.
Manager B exhibits a promotion of harmony by connecting to his team members. He wants to assist capable personnel improve their performance, by healing the rift and getting through with the situation, that he expects to be temporary and sorted through his positive intervention.
The best situation to suit this style of leadership would be that of a football club manager. The prime intention of an affiliative manager would be not just to win a match, rather to ensure the club plays as a team with harmony and understanding between each other. He would be the first person to take care of any internal rifts between players, and this is to ensure the long-term success of the team, the fans and the club as a whole.
4. Vignette 4: Training lessons that didn’t work
This vignette is set around a manager who wishes to make his team more included in discussions, by instilling responsibility for their actions. He involves them in an open dialogue regarding appointment of suppliers. He lets their difference of opinions to rise, and gives an opportunity to run a discussion. This let them have a joint feeling of commitment and accountability towards the organization. The members are now enthusiastic about having a new supplier on board, however, while discussing this specific supplier, a vice president (VP) does not seem to be their admirer of this supplier. This leads to the manager cutting all the excitement and dissolving the talk altogether.
Such a leadership style portrayed by a democratic leader, who according to Goleman is a leader that builds on consensus through participation. Their prime intention is to collaborate, lead the team and create buy-ins using inputs (Goleman, 2000). The manager values the input of his team and gives an opportunity for the members including head of departments to raise their queries and thoughts. The manager has also shown his democracy by siding with the VP, who holds a senior post in the organization.
In addition, a lack of communication from the manager to the people in the room is seen, as information about the non-appointment of this particular supplier should have been shared as early as possible. It would have avoided the feeling that their opinion and time had been lost. A clear evidence to support this fact is that the team decided to disband as soon as the news about the VP’s rapport with the supplier broke out.
A situation where a democratic leader would deem applicable would be in a consulting firm. A top enterprise client of the firm wishes to revamp its customer experience using a new trending technology. The client has given the head of a department (HoD) this task and requested for a strategy within two weeks. The HoD may not have specific knowledge about the deployment of that technology, and calls for a meeting with his team of 20+ professional consultants. These technical and process oriented specialists brainstorm and originate a strategy for implementation of the requirements as requested. The inputs of his team ensures all opinions and viewpoints are taken into consideration, and the strategy is put together using the resources at his disposal.
5. Vignette 5: Attracting R&D talent
The vignette highlights the case of Helen, VP HR at BioFuture (Basel) who wished to engage in a new employee branding campaign. The company has faced a low talent turnover in many of its countries. Due to a drastic increase in organizational research and development (R&D), the company is concerned with a shortage of talented personnel to recruit for the department. This is due to shifted priorities set by new candidates, which were not the same as the experienced ones. On realization, Helen had to approve and design new job packages in order to meet the requirements at a global level.
Helen, in this particular case exhibits the qualities of an authoritative or visionary leader. Goleman argues that visionary leaders mobilize people towards a vision, and they best function when a new change is in effect with a clear vision of what lies ahead. A visionary leader mobilizes and motivates people by laying a direction as to how the work done by them fits into the larger vision for the organization (Goleman, 2000).
Helen understands that a new strategy toward recruitment is required, and the preferences of the young scientists differs completely from those of the commercial or production staff. They were keen towards stable jobs, decent pay, freedom for work organization and the ability to interact with the academic community. Therefore, she initiates new templates for job descriptions and compensation packages based on the above guidelines. Additionally, Helen understands that in order for this method to be adapted across all branches, HR personnel around would need the full support of their direct bosses and management.
A situation where a visionary leader would do well would be of the leader of a developing country. In order for his nation to develop at a rapid pace and sustain the economy, a visionary style would enable the leader to foresee the future, adopt upcoming trends to benefit the country and enable its people to adapt to those trends. Countries around the world with positive and far-sighted leaders have grown exponentially and have cemented their place on the world map, due to extraordinary vision by their leaders.
6. Vignette 6: Developing employees
The vignette addresses a manager, Margarita who believes that the criteria for evaluating managers must be on their abilities to grow and develop their teams. She takes the example of Nicholas, a subordinate of hers who has grown tremendously under her guidance. Nicholas has been very proactive in wanting to take up additional responsibilities, and Margarita has in turn ensured he remains challenged at a constant pace. Margarita now is forced to compare Nicholas to another employee Eugene, who she has tried numerous times to motivate and achieve more at the workplace, however without any success.
The leadership style followed by Margarita here is that of a coaching leader. According to Goleman, a coaching leader cultivates people for the future, and always has a “try this” attitude (Goleman, 2000). Goleman in another place argues that coaching leaders help employees recognize their unique strengths and weaknesses and link them to their vision. They inspire subordinates to create durable goals, and help them conceptualize a plan for attaining them (Goleman, 2013).
Margarita in this case exemplifies the role of a coaching manager. She takes the time off for Nicholas to share her know how, which would highly assist him in tasks and presentations. She also pushes him to the limit by taking her place during important meetings, regardless of the extra time spent or the content not being up to expectations. Margarita understands that her time and effort put to mold Nicholas would prove to be a long-term benefit for the organization. This largely is due to his own engagement with her vision, and him being highly driven to improve constantly. She knows that having the same time and effort toward Eugene would be a waste, since he has no motivation at the workplace to be able to grow himself or contribute more than what is being asked of him.
The context of application for a coaching leader is when a technical director is preparing to take on the role of the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of an organization. The CTO about to exit applies a coaching style to ensure all information and core knowledge of the role are passed to the incoming CTO, who would be able to develop his role and imbibe the expertise meant for that position.