The 8 Dimensions of Leadership gives you a flexible framework to help you deal with changing leadership needs. This post explores how the deliberate dimension can respond to challenges.
You might think of the deliberate leader as the expert, the one who leads through their greater knowledge or experience. On the DiSC scale they are the C style.
The deliberate dimension of leadership
Deliberate leaders tend to be systematic, cautious and analytical. They most comfortable working at a disciplined and moderate pace, ensuring accuracy in their craft or profession.
They also can be overly risk-averse and perfectionistic. They can be demanding of their followers, paying less attention to their needs than more inclusive and affirming leaders.
You might find this type of leader working independently, deep in analysis and planning, solving complex problems. They can seem detached and unemotional in their pursuit of high-quality outcomes.
What we can learn from deliberate leaders
People can’t read your mind
Being social and friendly isn’t the same as being a great communicator. Deliberate leaders make it clear where they stand and share the logic behind their arguments. They are willing to take the time to form and deliver a clear message. They aren’t so excited by their ideas that they forget to tell others or only give a brief overview or example of what they’ve been thinking.
When there’s confusion over a major change or a need for alignment around a new initiative, deliberate leadership helps people feel they are all headed in the same direction. They are less likely to feel left behind because the details that matter to them were glossed over or neglected.
“A leader who says ‘I’ve got ten priorities’ doesn’t know what he’s talking about—he doesn’t know himself what the most important things are. You’ve got to have these few, clearly realistic goals and priorities, which will influence the overall performance of the company.”
— Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, Execution: The discipline of getting things done
- Communicating a Corporate Vision to Your Team, Harvard Business Review
- Communicating Change: What People Want To Hear And What They Need To See, Forbes
- 3 Reasons Leaders Should Be More Specific, Inc.
- Great Leaders Connect The Dots, the Upwards Leaders
Show that you’ve done your homework
Deliberate leaders might have been the first to recognize and capitalize upon the power of analytics. Unlike the faster-paced leaders who sometimes skip past disciplined analysis, this type of leader digs in. Showing that they’ve made careful and informed choices builds their credibility.
Enthusiasm can be used to sell some people on an idea or to drum up interest, but it won’t be enough for many. Some people have been burnt by leaders who repeatedly made false starts and some are naturally skeptical. Taking the time to focus your energy, to gather information and then explain it will show you’ve done your due diligence and inspire confidence in your decisions.
“But developing good business direction isn’t magic. It is a tough, sometimes exhausting process of gathering and analyzing information. People who articulate such visions aren’t magicians but broad-based strategic thinkers who are willing to take risks.”
— John Kotter, What leaders really do
- Small Details for Big Picture People, Thin Difference
- What It Takes to Think Deeply About Complex Problems, Harvard Business Review
- Developing Your Critical Thinking Leadership Skills, International Institute of Directors & Managers
- Leadership Is About Thinking: Make Time For It, Forbes
- 3 Ways to Build a Data-Driven Team, Harvard Business Review
Leaders are responsible for ensuring that processes run smoothly
Unlike leaders whose styles fall on the northern edge of the DiSC circle (D/Di/iD), Deliberate leaders seldom overlook their responsibility for the inner workings of their organization in a pursuit of action and rushing ahead towards something new. They consciously create an environment and culture through structure and processes. They tend not to neglect issues like success planning, regulatory reporting, or data security. They might delegate many related tasks, but they don’t abandon their responsibility for them.
People don’t like to feel like their time has been wasted because of unclear expectations or procedures. Many need to understand what they will be held accountable for and see others being held accountable for their own responsibilities and commitments. Deliberate leaders are willing to put in the time to study current processes to learn what is and what isn’t working. They will dig to discover the source of downtimes, low morale, high turnover, damaged brand reputation or whatever issue they are facing. Great leaders are able to be both nearsighted and farsighted, and Deliberate leaders tend to be better with the closer picture.
“The issue isn’t whether to have routines but which routines to have. Those few essential routines that serve the key values of the organization should be worshiped.”
— Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge
- Critical Reasons Why Attention to Detail Matters for Leaders, Thoughtful Leader
- Leaders Focus Too Much on Changing Policies, and Not Enough on Changing Minds, Harvard Business Review
- Change Management Requires Leadership Clarity and Alignment, Forbes
- How to have tough conversations: 8 tips, The Enterprise Project
- Only 8% of Leaders Are Good at Both Strategy and Execution, Harvard Business Review
The Pitfalls of Deliberate-only Leadership
Sometimes others describe Deliberate leaders as detached, aloof, or private. Their desire for freedom and privacy can cause them to shy away from the emotional aspects of leadership. They can fail to take advantage of social situations for networking and influencing others. Their silence can be mistaken for disapproval. Both offering praise and applying pressure can be uncomfortable and taxing.
The desire for objectivity and the satisfaction in working through a complex problem can cause the Deliberate leader to retreat from the distraction of social spaces. Interpersonal connections can require energy they’d rather use elsewhere. This can mean that these leaders fail to notice or meet the emotional needs of their employees. It can mean that they fail to ask others for help or additional ways of addressing a problem.
Deliberate leaders are innately skeptical and questioning. Being wrong is very distasteful. They worry about the quality of anything associated with their name, so will question new ideas and demand logical arguments to support any suggestion. They hesitate to move ahead until all their concerns are addressed. This can cause them to miss opportunities and fail to take even reasonable risks.
Discover your own preferred leadership dimension
Different business situations often require different styles of leadership. Mentors, coaches, and self-reflection can help any type of leader stretch into each of the leadership behaviors needed by every effective leader.
Download the slide deck below for an overview of lessons you can learn from each of the eight dimensions of leadership. These lessons and insights are drawn from The 8 Dimensions of Leaders: DiSC® Strategies for Becoming a Better Leader.
By Kristeen Bullwinkle
Originally published on TalentGear.com.