Earlier this month I had an opportunity to examine my leadership style in order to learn more about my leadership characteristics. I took the leadership assessment test created by Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal in Reframing Organizations. The Leadership Orientations assessment is keyed to four different conceptions of organizations and of the task of organizational leadership. Lee Bolman and Terry Deal in Reframing Organizations present these orientations as four frames; a distinct way of thinking about leadership and organizations. My goal was to leverage this information in order to become a better leader. The following represents my results:
My leadership style according to the self-assessment indicates that I am adept in working in all four leadership frames. The majority of my scores range from the 50-59th to 60-69th percentile with the only outlier Human Resources at the 30-39th percentile, although it’s my highest score at 17. My scores overall range from 12 to 17, with the highest percentile leadership frame being Political (but it’s the lowest score of 12, go figure).
The leadership assessment suggest my primary leadership style is Political. However, I do not feel that I “emphasize the importance of building a power base: allies, networks, coalitions and that a good leader is an advocate and negotiator who understands politics and is comfortable with conflict” (Bolman & Deal, n.d.). I certainly believe (as indicated by the overall assessment results) that being Political is part of being a good leader, but not a predominate trait.
One strength of my leadership style is that I utilize all four frames. However, the weakest frame is in Human Resources and that indicates that I am NOT best at facilitating and being participative, supporting and empowering others. This is an area in which I thought would be my strongest leadership trait.
The Four Frames Are:
STRUCTURAL LEADERS: emphasize rationality, analysis, logic, facts, and data. They are likely to believe strongly in the importance of clear structure and well-developed management systems. A good leader in the structural leader’s view is someone who thinks clearly, makes the right decisions, has good analytic skills, and can design structures and systems that get the job done.
HUMAN RESOURCE LEADERS: emphasize the importance of people. They endorse the view that the central task of management is to develop a good fit between people and organizations. They believe in the importance of coaching, participation, motivation, teamwork, and good interpersonal relations. A good leader in the view of a human resource leader is a facilitator and participative manager who supports and empowers others.
POLITICAL LEADERS: believe that managers and leaders live in a world of conflict and scarce resources. The central task of management is to mobilize the resources needed to advocate and fight for the unit’s or the organization’s goals and objectives. Political leaders emphasize the importance of building a power base: allies, networks, coalitions. A good leader to a political leader means an advocate and negotiator who understands politics and is comfortable with conflict.
SYMBOLIC LEADERS: believe that the essential task of management is to provide vision and inspiration. They rely on personal charisma and a flair for drama to get people excited and committed to the organizational missions. A good leader in their view is a prophet and visionary, who uses symbols, tells stories, and frames experience in ways that give people hope and meaning.
The leadership assessment states “Your raw scores alone do not provide a full picture of your leadership orientations in relation to other leaders’. Most leaders rate themselves considerably higher on the human resources and structural frames than the political and symbolic frames. Paradoxically, Bolman and Deal have found that the political and symbolic frames, which may puzzle or even repel many, are actually more critical for effective leadership (Bolman & Deal, n.d). The leadership assessment states that all four frames are critical for leading organizations successfully, but few leaders are adept with working in all four frames. This is something I will continue to strengthen and I would encourage everyone to take this assessment to put you on the road to becoming a better leader!