This is something that not only works relating to leadership; it works in all facets of life where there’s a reliance on relationships working and good rapport toward peace and equity outcomes. That probably covers the vast majority of situations we could find ourselves in, from buying milk at the corner delicatessen to heading up a major corporation.
The Human Synergistics’ Circumplex explains all. The 12-faceted disc encompassing constructive, passive-defensive and aggressive-defensive leadership styles categorises leaders as either encouraging, requiring or driving individuals—regarding their preferred ways of managing people.
Style One – Passive/Defensive – “Requiring”
“Requiring” leaders are restrictive in that they seek their people to please the customer, conform to ‘the mould,’ clear all decisions through correct channels, and avoid mistakes to the point of inaction.
“Requiring” parents likewise will defer to others, pleasing them, to the potential expense of the child’s best needs. They’ll not take any risks i.e. little ‘faith’ is exercised, and this will frustrate their children. They’ll also be overly inclined to blame their kids—in submitting to others—when managing their kids’ inappropriate actions, not accepting any responsibility themselves.
“Requiring” people are people pleasers, bent to the shape of a world that would have them ‘required’ (extrinsically) to do things they don’t believe in. These are the “submissives” of the world.
These are “lose/win” people. They lose so that others can win. They focus at being good.
Style Two – Aggressive/Defensive – “Driving”
“Driving” leaders are restrictive for basically the opposite reasons that “requiring” leaders are. They seek their people to: eliminate mistakes—highlighting them to them in their perfection; conform to ‘their mould,’ to the point of bullying; and, do things to gain a competitive edge—even if that means behaving inappropriately. They set unrealistic goals for their people based on narrowly-defined objectives. They win at almost all costs.
“Driving” parents likewise will implicitly compete with other parents by using their kids as ‘superior pawns,’ highlighting their own shallow ‘superiority.’ Again, this is to the expense of the child’s best needs. They’ll possibly take inordinate risks i.e. too much ‘faith’ is exercised, and this will embarrass their children. They’ll also not be very inclined to accept responsibility for managing their kids’ inappropriate actions—for these parents, others “attack” their children wantonly. Their kids seemingly can do no wrong.
“Driving” people are generally overtly selfish, bent to the shape of their own egos, driving an agenda that starts and finishes with their own needs, to the detriment of others. These are the “aggressives” of the world.
These are “win/lose” people. They win, and in doing so at a competitive advantage, others can only lose. They focus at looking good.
Style Three – Constructive – “Encouraging”
“Encouraging” leaders are prescriptive, and in doing so, they guide and direct appropriately. They seek to encourage their people to: achieve appropriately; to grow, develop and enjoy their work; and, to treat all others in the team respectfully and be friendly and cooperative. They focus on giving and receiving constructive, balanced feedback.
“Encouraging” parents will actively nurture healthy, vibrant relationships with their kids. Other parents will feel quite relaxed that their kids are friends of those with encouraging parents. These parents issue a balanced ‘faith’ in their kids, encouraging them to achieve appropriately—they know when and how to push them. Unlike the former two parents, they’ll be very inclined to accept responsibility for managing their kids’ inappropriate actions.
“Encouraging” people are generally balanced and positive people, driving an agenda that starts and finishes with the collective needs of all. These are the “assertives” of the world.
These are “win/win” people. They search for outcomes where everyone comes out on top. They focus at doing good.
Do you focus on being good, looking good or doing good? The first two styles represent essentially a “faith disconnect,” acknowledging that it takes a lot of courage, humility and self-honesty to be a consistently constructive leader, parent and person.
To finish, I was recently reminded of a poignant expression that gets at the heart of this issue: that of character; that deep, visceral “soulish” component to our inner person.
“What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism.”
The person, who routinely searches themselves in a healthy way, attending to the internal and external feedback they receive, will succeed as a leader, parent and person.
© 2009, S. J. Wickham.
 Shaun McCarthy, Human Synergistics International – The Leadership Culture Performance Connection: Transforming Leadership and Culture: The State of the Nations – The Research Results Book 2009 (Wellington, New Zealand: Human Synergistics, 2009), p. 16.