Employees More Motivated When Their Leaders’ Skills Are “Just Right” -- A Lesson from the Goldilocks School of Leadership

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Rob Kaiser, coauthor of "The Versatile Leader," offers what he calls a lesson from the Goldilocks School of Leadership, plus a five-point tip sheet on how to "right-size" your leadership skills based on his and Bob Kaplan's ten-year investigation into the role of versatility in leadership. Also included are links to a free self-test and an article on new findings about leadership excellence.

They learn to exercise a spectrum of skills, not just the ones that come naturally.

Goldilocks didn’t like her porridge too hot or too cold. Neither do employees respond well to managers and executives who exert too much of a particular skill – often a skill that comes from their personal comfort zone.

“The best leaders get it ‘just right’,” says leadership expert and researcher Rob Kaiser, coauthor of “The Versatile Leader” (Pfeifer/Wiley, May, 2006). “They learn to exercise a spectrum of skills, not just the ones that come naturally.” He and coauthor Bob Kaplan, both partners at Kaplan DeVries Inc., have researched the value of “right-sizing” leadership strengths for ten years.

They found executives who avoid overusing their strengths, and who strengthen their weaker “muscles” so they can lead in a wide variety of situations, have higher work unit morale and overall better business outcomes than those who rely on a single strength. In fact, Kaiser and Kaplan's statistical research indicates that versatility—having a well-rounded repertoire—and lopsidedness—relying too much on one approach at the expense of others—account for half of what separates the most effective leaders from the least effective leaders.

“Versatility with a range of leadership skills is invaluable in today’s environment,” says Kaiser. The authors offer a free two-minute test that illustrates the point. (Use the link to see how you score.) They also offer the following pointers and a white paper for those who want to learn how to serve the porridge “just right”:


1. Avoid the gravitational pull of negative feedback and give positive feedback its due.

2. Calibrate your sense of your strengths: chances are you underestimate yourself. Poor self-awareness is a leading source of career derailment.

3. Check with others to see if you go overboard with any of your strengths. Learn whether they think you use them too much, at the wrong time, or with too much intensity.

4. Get beyond the "more is better" mentality with the Goldilocks principle: too hot, too cold, and just right.

5. For anything you may do too much of, determine if there is an opposite but complementary thing you do too little off. Think yin-yang.

Read a one page article from "Leadership Excellence" for more on how to get your skills “just right.” along with more about how to apply each of these strategies and tactics for becoming a more effective and versatile leader.

Rob Kaiser can be reached at Kaplan DeVries Inc.: 336.288.8200; Web: KaplanDeVries.com

The Leadership Versatility Index is operated on behalf of Kaplan DeVries by Performance Programs, Inc., human resource measurement specialists.

This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: http://www.HRmarketer.com) on behalf of the company listed above.


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Kathleen G. Connolly
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