Pacesetting Leadership

One of the six leadership styles that Daniel Goleman described in his theory of emotional intelligence was the pacesetting leadership style. While each of the six leadership styles has its role in today’s workplace, pacesetting leadership is one of those styles that should be used sparingly. Attributes of Pacesetting Leaders The phrase that best describes the operating mode of the pacesetting leader is: “Do as I do, now. ” That’s because the pacesetting leadership style is one that involves a drive to achieve initiatives, and a drive to achieve results.

The pacesetting leader sets both high standards for themselves and those they are leading. One of the key attributes of a pacesetting leader is that they lead by example. They don’t ask their followers to do anything they wouldn’t do themselves. Unfortunately, not everyone shares the same motivating forces as the pacesetting leader. Pacesetting leaders are also quick to identify individuals that are not keeping pace with their expectations. Poor performers are asked to rise to the occasion, and if they do not, then they are quickly replaced. Pacesetters don’t give employees a lot of positive feedback; they simply don’t have the time.

On the flip side, these leaders have no problem jumping right in and taking over if they think the pace of progress is too slow. Pros and Cons of the Pacesetting Leadership Style Clearly one of the pros of the pacesetting leadership style is they are able to quickly achieve business results. In the short term, you’re going to have a high-energy group with outstanding performance in terms of accomplishing tasks as well as the quality of the work itself. On the down side, the pacesetting style has a negative effect on the work environment. In fact, only the coercive leadership style has a greater negative effect on people.

Often employees are simply overwhelmed by the speed and the demands placed upon them, resulting in morale that quickly deteriorates. To make matters worse, the pace under this leadership style is so quick that instructions to followers may not even be clear. Ironically, the leader has no patience for those that need to learn, or are not picking up new work fast enough. Effectively Using the Pacesetting Style The most effective way to use the pacesetting style is when you need to get quick results from a group that is already highly motivated and competent.

This means that the motivation that’s driving the leader must also exist among the leader’s followers. The style is also effective when group members are highly competent in the task they are going to complete. Whether this comes from aptitude or experience, the group members are going to be asked to work quickly. There is no time to learn on the job, or teach someone a skill they may be lacking. While the pacesetting style can be very effective in getting results in the short term, it’s not a style that can be used over the long haul. Quite frankly, pacesetters are great at burning out their coworkers.

If you’ve ever worked for a leader that uses the pacesetting style, you know exactly what we are talking about. The pacesetting style can be very effective if used sparingly – when it’s really needed for the good of the business. If you plan to use it as your base leadership style, then just be prepared to manage a group with a high turnover rate. Examples of Pacesetting Leaders Perhaps the best examples of pacesetting leaders come from the military. If you think about the possible situations in which those leaders can find themselves, then you can have a deep appreciation for the need to make quick and decisive moves.

There is very little tolerance for making mistakes when the stakes are that high. Our second example of a pacesetting leader comes from the business world, and is perhaps the most recognizable and studied CEO of all time. Jack Welch Jack Welch began his career at General Electric in 1960, and by 1981 he was named the company’s eighth Chief Executive Officer. While Jack Welch was also known for his informal approach that allowed him to interact with employees at all levels in his organization, he was also a persistent and demanding executive.

In fact, from the period 1981 to 1985 he played a role in cutting approximately 25% of the jobs from the payroll at GE. That’s nearly 100,000 employees. It was during this time he was dubbed “Neutron Jack. ” Jack Welch believed that leaders should avoid micro-managing, and spend their time inspiring others. He was a firm believer in leading by example, which is a characteristic of the pacesetting leadership style. Finally, he believed in what he termed the four E’s of leadership: energy, energize, edge, and execution. Jack Welch retired from GE in 2001 after publishing his best selling autobiography – Jack – Straight from the Gut.