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Is Project Leadership all in the mind ?

Being a certain kind of person, I spent some of my Easter holiday reading Goleman‘s book on Primal Leadership, and on my return opened Project Manager Today to read the article on ‘Project Management is all in the mind’ by Chem Silverman.

That article talks about some of the physiological and neurological features of how the brain works, particularly how positive aspects can be employed in project management. A couple of simple techniques are mentioned for reducing natural (primordial) emotions of fear and anger to encourage more collaboration.

Although surprisingly not mentioned in Silverman’s  article, Goleman’s book majors on the role of the amygdala, sometimes called our ‘reptilian brain‘, in determining our emotional responses, hence the word ‘Primal’ in the title. The book builds on extensive research by the Hay Group, supported by work in the field at two leading US institutes for personal development, to describe neurological aspects of the conventional leadership styles. The weaknesses of the dissonant styles of leadership, viz Authoritative and Pacesetting, are contrasted to the resonant styles of Visionary, Coaching, Affiliative and Democratic.  Basically, Resonant styles create more positive energy in teams through a positive feedback loop, whereas Dissonant styles lead to deteriorations in relationships and teams over time.

But of course, all styles have their time and place, and a good leader is one who has the social awareness to know what style would be most suited to the context and situation and the behavioural flexibility to make the switch.

I deal with these leadership styles in my book on NLP4PM and concentrate on the development of social awareness and behavioural flexibility to avoid being a ‘one trick pony’.

What do you think your preferred leadership style is ? And what about your boss ? What style would you prefer them to use ? (Note, most managers in a survey for the Chartered Management Institure jssaid that they used a coaching style but that their boss was authoritative).