Knowing your own Action Logic can be the first step toward developing a more effective leadership style.
In the HBR article on 7 Transformations of Leadership, the authors described their research on the dominant way leaders think in terms of their internal ‘Action Logic’— how they interpret their surroundings and react when their power or safety is challenged.
The 7 Action Logics can be categorised as:
This post will unpack the categories of Expert and Achiever.
Remember, like all styles, all levels have their strengths and weaknesses.
The largest category of leader is that of Experts, who account for 38% in the research presented.
Experts try to exercise control by perfecting their knowledge, both in their professional and personal lives.
They look for rational efficiency.
We see this often when experts in their field take on more management and leadership responsibilities. They excel as professional contributors.
Confident of their expertise, they present hard data and logic in their efforts to gain consensus and buy-in for their proposals.
Experts are great individual contributors because of their pursuit of continuous improvement, efficiency, and perfection. But as managers, there can be downsides exactly because they’re sure they’re right!
Did you ever work for a boss that said ‘my way or the highway’?
For a boss that didn’t seem to have time for empathy?
If so, likely that manager was using Expert Action Logic as their predominant way of thinking.
The Achiever, on the other hand, will both challenge and support you and work to create a positive team environment. (30% of the managers in the research)
Leaders with this Action Logic style have a more complex and integrated understanding of the world and are both action and goal oriented. A downside is that their style often inhibits thinking outside the box. In any case, they’re open to feedback, recognise and deal with ambiguities and don’t shy away from conflict – often creatively resolving conflicts and able to influence others in positive ways.
Achievers can also lead a team to implement new strategies and balance short and long-term objectives.
Have you ever worked for a manager that leveraged your competitive nature and claimed: “we can do this!”? If so, it’s likely she was utilizing Achiever mindset.
Leaders can move through these categories as their abilities grow, the next posts will describe the other action logics and how transformation can occur.
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