What Type of Leader Are You? - Page 3

Jun 27, 2007

Daniel Gingras

The Coach - In the end, developing the people who follow you in your mission has to be a primary duty of the great leader, and this involves no small part of coaching. Sometimes it means delivering the difficult message “Your performance needs to improve,” but it’s always done in such a way that you feel better for receiving the message.

You know the person truly cares about your development and growth, and that delivering constructive criticism is a part of growing. In fact, you should be wary of a leader who always praises. Either their expectations are too low, and you’re not being stretched and thus not growing, or they’re not really concerned about you and are just backslapping you at every occasion.

A really great leader knows he or she has to develop his followers and that that means challenging them and giving them opportunities to fail, but supporting them in their failures so that they learn.

So, what’s the best style? Maybe no single style, but a combination of a number of styles. I try myself to be a combination of inspirational leader and coach. But, occasionally, I find that neither of these styles works with someone who has spent most of their time under a toxic boss like the tyrant.

I have to modify my style to fit the individual, to insure that I understand exactly what they want. This is the essence of true leadership: reconciling the needs of the individuals in the team with the organizational mission.

Make no mistake, it’s tough to do, but it’s the essence of the CIO's role. And if you’re a CIO, or aspiring to be one, then this is where you should concentrate your efforts.

How do you find out if you’re a great leader ? Ask. Survey your staff, your peers and your superiors. Get them to give you 360-degree feedback and support this concept within your organization. Get details of where you need improvement not only from your boss but from your staff. Make it a formal process, and more than once a year … once a quarter if possible. If you don’t ask, you’ll never grow as a leader.

Daniel Gingras has been CIO of five major companies and is a partner at Tatum, LLC. , a nationwide professional services organization of senior-level technology and financial executives who take on leadership roles for client companies. He has more than 30 years of IT experience and teaches computer science at Boston University. He can be reached at

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