Identifying Your Style Of Leadership:
Reactive vs Proactive

Are you using a reactive or proactive leadership style? Rate yourself on the 12 elements of reactive leadership and then decide what you want to do differently

What impact is your style of leadership having?

Do you feel like a reactive leader? Lots of urgency in your workplace. Constantly fighting fires and reacting to problems?

Or, are you a Proactive Leader? With the luxury of time to contemplate in advance the issues that could be problematic. Making sure that you are solving problems for both the short and long-term?

A Proactive Leader tends to be much more focused on achieving his or her business results through tapping into the power of their team. Whereas, the Reactive Leader is focused on finding and fixing problems by him or herself.

Take Action: Complete this Reactive-Proactive Style Of Leadership Self-Assessment:

  • Using the scale, decide where you lay on the continuum
  • Decide if you need/want to shift your style of leadership
  • Prioritize which would have the most significant impact on your team achieving its performance outcomes
  • What specific action could you take TODAY that would make a difference?

You Don't Have to be an Expert at it all!

As mentioned on the leadership strengths page, do not expect to have expertise at everything. But do be aware of those areas that may be your undoing, and manage around them. However, should you decide to make some shifts remember ...

There are no quick fixes. It is your persistence that ensures on-going success. Should you decide to make a change in your style of leadership, do not do it for a short time and then decide it doesn't work. It takes a long time to turn the Titanic around. Don't give up, because you could be just about to get the results you want.

Be Flexible With Your Style of Leadership

High-Performance Leaders flex their style of leadership according to the situation at hand.

They skillfully move up and down the 0-10 continuum as is appropriate. It does, however, take conscious effort. You need to be aware of what is going on around you and make conscious choices on how you respond.

When you get good at tapping into the power of your people, you'll deliver faster, better results.

Here's an example of how this style of leadership thinking applies in the real world

When I was working at Colgate-Palmolive, one of our Production Team Members volunteered to take on the organization and management of the casual labor pool. This meant she arranged for the casual staff to come in, as and when they were needed and supervised their work. (All this over and above her 'normal' duties of running a filling line).

After a year or so, she came to me and said, "I'm not happy with the quality of people the agency is sending us. Their customer service has dropped. Also, I think we could get a better rate elsewhere. Can you do something about it?"

Now, in the early stages of my career, with my Reactive style of leadership (and with my 'need to feel important' hat on!), I would've immediately got on to the agency. Negotiated prices and demanded they improve the quality of casual labor they sent us and improve their customer service.

At the end of the process, I'd have figuratively rubbed my hands at a job well done (by me). Subconsciously thinking how very important I was. All these problems to fix. And I fixed them! (Isn't hindsight a beautiful thing. You can laugh at yourself, and appreciate how much you've grown and changed)

Instead, because of the wonderful mentoring I received over the years from some terrific leaders, I put my Proactive Style of Leadership hat on. I wanted to develop her skill set, and capability to tackle issues such as this.

So, my response was, "What do you think we should do? How do you want to go about it?".

Instead of providing her with solutions, the project was turned over to her. Obviously, with as much support as she felt she needed, so that she could grow and learn.

She struggled with providing feedback to the agency about their lack of customer service and negotiating with alternative suppliers. It was a whole new skill-set, she never dreamt she would develop - which came in handy in negotiating her home loan!

The silent message to her was: YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. I have absolute faith in your capability to make quality decisions, and to handle these people well. And you have my support if you need it.

By the end of the process, she had saved the company about $20,000 per annum. She took over the management and control of the entire Casual Staff Budget. She created a training schedule for casuals and monitored their performance. Ensuring they were working productively and safely at all times.

We went from a budget that had previously been somewhat out of control, to consistently coming in under-budget. And, the quality of the workmanship of the casuals greatly improved. She took huge pride in this part of her job. As a wonderful side benefit it helped improve her self-esteem.

What did we get out of this?

For the team leaders, it meant that it freed up about 20 minutes a day spent on managing casuals. We had a team member who was very focused on getting the best value from the casual staff. Something the team leaders didn't have the time to do. This created significant cost savings to the bottom line. And finally, a team member who felt that what she did makes a difference.

A simple shift in a style of leadership, with dramatically effective results.

Here's a Learning Opportunity for You:

  • 1
    In what ways have you been frustrated, in the past by people coming to you for even simple decisions?
  • 2
    Considering the above example, what might you do differently next time to better wean your team members from running to you for every decision?
  • 3
    What would be the benefits to your organization? For your team? For you?

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