Do Different Styles of Leadership Work?
Tina Shah Paikeday, Alix Stuart
The Agenda article, "Do Different Styles of Leadership Work?" was written by Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Tina Shah Paikeday and Knowledge Director Alix Stuart, based on our paper, "Shattering the Bamboo Ceiling: Addressing Asian American Under–Representation in the C-Suite." The article is excerpted below.
As the recent U.S. presidential election has shown us, leadership styles can take many forms. Yet U.S. companies tend to favor a single style, with little variation. They want leaders who have passion and charisma, who can inspire employees to great financial results. Most importantly, they want leaders who can connect with people to make change feel democratic and collaborative. The many variations of the Covid tagline “In this together” is a prime illustration of the importance placed on this type of connection.
At Russell Reynolds Associates, we characterize some of these traits — namely, the ability to disrupt established methods, play the hero, take risks and galvanize employees into action — as "loud." U.S. companies tend to favor these loud characteristics of leadership as talent is rising through the organization. Those who exhibit more disruptive, risk-taking, heroic and galvanizing characteristics are indeed more likely to get recognized, rewarded and promoted into more senior roles. However, our research on leadership data also shows that the quieter leadership style characteristics — including being vulnerable, connecting, being appropriately reluctant and pragmatic — are valued at the senior-most levels.
We recently reviewed leadership assessments for nearly 1,200 high-performing executives across the U.S., India and China. What we found is that leaders in the U.S. had a wider span across both loud and quiet leadership characteristics. That is, for any given characteristic, U.S. leaders demonstrated it at the extreme; in some sense being more expressive even when they were quiet. The opposite preference for a more moderated leadership style — neither excessively loud nor quiet — was found in the Asian leader data set. Perhaps some common expressions in each part of the world reflect those values. For example, in the U.S., the “squeaky wheel gets the grease,” whereas in Asia, “the loud duck gets shot.”
To read the full article, click here.