Even though great leaders know they much use each of the eight dimensions of leadership, they tend to prefer one or find one easier to exhibit. Leaders who primarily use the Resolute Dimension tend to be challenging, determined and rational.
The resolute dimension of leadership
Resolute leaders are often seen as having a fighting spirit in that they will push for what they see is right. On the DiSC scale they are the CD or DC style. This is a dimension leaders will want to turn to when a very visible project fails, a strategic project goes awry, a project goes grossly over budget, or market competition is forcing a disciplined focus.
Leaders occupying the Resolute dimension probably shy away from giving motivational, emotional speeches or showing much enthusiasm. You’re more likely to see them deep into a debate or working on a tricky problem.
What we can learn from resolute leaders
Leaders need to have a fervent focus on outcomes
This style of leadership is ready to hold people accountable, setting high expectations for quality, efficiency and the bottom line. Many new leaders struggle with holding others accountable because they are more relationship-oriented and aren’t comfortable asking people to make sacrifices or with speaking in an authoritative way.
Resolute leaders start with the end in mind and look ahead toward second- and third-order consequences of decisions. They look for what might derail their forward movement. They are very clear about what outcomes they want to see their people produce, but don’t necessarily prescribe solutions for how to get to that outcome.
It’s important to these leaders to set challenging yet reasonable goals and to inquire regularly about progress towards results. If individuals or teams are hitting roadblocks or aren’t on track, the Resolute leader is ready to analyze why and to hold people accountable.
“It is very important to grasp that Level 5 leadership is not just about humility and modesty. It is equally about ferocious resolve, an almost stoic determination to do whatever needs to be done to make the company great.”
— Jim Collins in Good to Great
- Ownership Is Leadership: Three Steps To Owning Your Outcomes And Being A Better Leader, Forbes
- Leaders Who Focus on Execution Achieve Better Outcomes, Dianne Gaudet
- Why Leaders Need to Learn to Speak in Outcomes, Not Activities, Vistage UK Blog
Tough problems that plague your team are your responsibility
Resolute leaders tend not to shy away from the tough problems. Leaders who want to learn from them need to become comfortable with conflict, even seeking out problems to fix. Avoiding issues erodes the trust of those who follow you. They expect the leader to call attention to problems and create a culture where it’s safe for them to do so, too. Identifying roadblocks, concerns and inefficiencies — asking questions, in other words — isn’t likely to be punished by this leader.
Seeing a problem doesn’t necessarily mean that it will immediately be addressed. Some problems might be allowed to exist in order to stimulate creativity or to give an emerging leader a chance to address it. But the Resolute leader won’t assume that things will get better. They will work to separate the problems from the people, pose incisive questions, and keep everyone focused on the organization’s mission and goals.
“Go find what needs fixing in your organization. Wander around the plant, the store, the branch, the halls, or the office. Look for things that don’t seem right. Ask questions. Probe.”
— Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in The Leadership Challenge
- The 7 Ways to Build Your Leadership Ability During a Business Crisis, Inc
- 4 Ways to Determine If You Are Supporting an Accountable Leader, Entrepreneur
- BP’s Tony Hayward and the Failure of Leadership Accountability, Harvard Business Review
The right decisions will upset people from time to time
You can’t always make decisions based on what someone else wants or on what will make others like you. Resolute leaders are tough-minded and able to make decisions objectively. This can take a level of courage and resolve. They can care about their people and still address entrenched or politically-charged problems. In fact they tend to be good about anticipating reactions from all their constituents before they announce their decisions.
All leaders can learn to take a proactive stance when announcing their decisions, not letting information leak out and confuse or worry their followers. They can learn to connect the dots for people, tying their decisions to the organizations goals and mission. They can learn to acknowledge objections while helping people move towards a goal. Developing this dimension can help leaders look for long-term solutions rather than quick fixes that will need to be fixed again.
Whatever temporary pain you might incur from making a tough call should pale in comparison to the precedent you set that it’s important to put the organization’s success first.
— Ron Carucci, co-founder and managing partner at Navalent
- Leaders, Stop Avoiding Hard Decisions, Harvard Business Review
- Leadership is about Hard Decisions, Government Executive
- You Can’t Be a Wimp—Make the Tough Calls, Harvard Business Review
- Leadership And The Art Of Making Tough Decisions, Inc.
The pitfalls of resolute-only leadership
It should come as no surprise that the Resolute leader can come across as disinterested or guarded because they are so serious and skeptical. Their insistence on high standards rather than on relationships can make them seem aggressive and cold. They might not show explosive anger, but show disdain or disgust instead when confronted with poor quality work or poorly constructed arguments.
Their own drive for personal mastery can cause them to try to control what isn’t possible to control. They have little patience for anyone they see as incompetent and may not give someone the mentoring or opportunities that would allow him or her to shine. They expect things to go well and tend to let good work pass without comment. When things go wrong, however, their disapproval might be too evident.
Resolute leaders can have a hard time rallying their troops because they ignore the emotional side of the workplace. They can be detached from their teams and distrust displays of enthusiasm or excitement. These leaders have a strong sense of what “should” be and can struggle with those who see things or work differently.
- Why Highly Efficient Leaders Fail, Harvard Business Review
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