Four Types of Leaders - Leadership and Dominance
I'm continuing the discussion of Nigel Nicholson's take on leadership types from his book, Executive Instinct.
Note: I have modified yesterday's posting (see March 24, below) adding to the description of the Type A Dominant Boss (as suggested by Fouroboros).
What is Leadership
Nicholson defines the leadership role as the position of highest authority within a social group. When he speaks of leaders he is talking about the people in these roles. This includes heads of state, presidents of corporations, division heads and the leaders of some self-governing teams.
There are two leadership drives: the drive to dominance and the drive to status (eminence). Their strengths vary from person to person so that not every leader is the same.
Charismatic leaders have a great drive for both both dominance and status. But there are non-charismatic leaders too and Nicholson offers the following examples:
- the first-among-equals in a team-based business
- a technician or artist leading by example in a specialized organization
- the organizational publicist running a market-oriented business (?)
- the wise elder of the board overseeing a large long-standing corporation
- the nurturing protector governing a family-type organization
- the war chieftain leading a firm to battle in a tough market
These would seem to be leaders with a higher drive to status than dominance. In Nicholson's terms, Type B Ambitious Professionals .
Dominance is a biological universal among all social animals. The vocabulary of dominance is universal - an upright stance, decisive gestures, strong voice and unflinching gaze. Dominant people also talk more than others (the babble factor).
Great benefits accrue to those with high status and that induces people to desire leadership roles. People who would be leaders try to master the attributes of dominance. For some this come easily but, for others, it is an impossibility. Leaders often inflate their personal presence with trappings that are symbolic representation of their power (eg. a large office).
Within one type, leaders are not all the same
Jeremy of Ensight complains that the list of four leadership types is too narrow. But, Nicholson, does allow for varying strengths of the key leadership drives within different people. And this adds some variability within the different types.
For instance, the Dominant Boss type is clearly seen in romantic grand-standers like Fidel Castro and Lee Iacocca. They are great communicators with strong visions who enjoy running the show. But, the type also includes Robert Goizueta, CEO of Coke. Nicholson calls him a partial Type A.
Goizueta is a more bland personality than Castro. He is independent. He turned down the a chance to take over the family business. Instead, he took a junior technical management job in the local office of a large US firm. And, he did display a single-minded determination to succeed. But that just makes him sounds like an Ambitious Professional. However, when he got the chance to wield power over people and take responsibility as their leader, he seized it.
Jeremy immediately identified himself as the Type B Ambitious Professional and I think that this is correct. But, I also agree with him that he is more complex than that. He doesn't have a lust for power but he still does have a desire to lead - even if he sees that manifesting itself as helping people rather than bossing them around.