When choosing a candidate for a leadership role, it can pay to pick someone who goes against the grain.
The best leaders can be those whose style complements rather than matches that of their company because they are able to plug the gaps, finds research in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
For example, a company that has a strong focus on getting things done to the detriment of employee relationships will benefit from a leader who prizes working together and communication.
“The leader’s job is to assess what isn’t currently being handled by the culture and fill in the gaps,” says lead researcher Professor Chad Hartnell, of Georgia State University. However, he warns leaders against being confrontational.
“The goal is not for a leader to be a culture contrarian but a cultural contributor,” he says.
A leader who deliberately challenges or discards every assumption about what has worked in the past creates uncertainty, ambiguity and scepticism. They should instead build upon the positive aspects of the culture.
The best leaders will adapt their style as employee, team and organisational needs arise. While a highly proficient team might benefit from an empowering leadership style, another team might need a leader who clarifies roles, focuses efforts and executes tasks.
The original version of this article can be found at www.ft.com/.
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