In 1978 a biographer by the name of James McGregor Burns wrote a book entitled Leadership, in which he described the lives of people he felt were world class leaders—Gandhi, Mao, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Stalin and Hitler.
Transformational leaders, on the other hand, care about the needs and interests of their followers as well as their own.
Expanding on Burn’s theme, I want to introduce a two dimensional model of leadership behavior. I call the horizontal dimension empathy which has to do with concern for others and making sure their needs are met. By combining these two dimensions we come up with four styles of leadership: dominate, avoid, accommodate, and collaborate. An example of a Quadrant 4 leader is Mike Krzyrewski, coach of the Duke Bluedevils basketball team. On March 11th of that year, he suffered the worst defeat in school history and lost a game by a score of 109 to 66. During the March playoffs in 2005, Krzyrewski appeared in a television ad sponsored by the NCAA. A major conclusion of the book is his differentiation between two types of leaders, whom he called “Power-Wielders” and “Transformational Leaders.” The criterion Burns used to make this distinction was the leader’s concern for the wants and needs of their followers.
I call the vertical dimension assertiveness which has to do with concern for self in a business situation. People who are high on this dimension are sensitive to the needs, opinions and feelings of other people.
Of course, leaders can fall anywhere along either dimension of the model and so not every one is a “pure” or extreme type.
They treat people with warmth and friendship believing that building positive relationships is the best way to motivate people and keep productivity high.
Krzyrewski was an unknown when he came to coach Duke University in Durham, North Carolina in 1980.


They set high standards and press people to achieve outstanding results, and yet they make positive assumptions about people and believe that developing them is one of their most important leadership tasks.
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In fact, they see others as objects who are either desirable because they are instrumental in helping them gain what they want, or as undesirable because they hinder them or interfere with what they want. People who are high on assertiveness put their ideas forward and influence the way others think and behave.
However, everyone can be characterized as having natural tendencies in one or another of the quadrants. Because they are low on the empathy scale, they don’t care about what others think or how they respond. They can be perceived by others as demanding and yet seek to involve other people in making decisions and solving problems rather than going it alone.
Although these leaders are able to accomplish results in the short-run, they do so at a high price.
They seek mutually beneficial goals and raise their followers to higher levels of motivation, behavior and even morality.
They are open-minded, optimistic about other’s motives and capability, and willing to be influenced by them. They rarely initiate change but will be loyal and carry out decisions that others (boss) have made. They have a difficult time setting up structure and accountability, preferring to let people figure out for themselves how to do their jobs. These leaders recognize their own authority and don’t let pleasing others override their opinions. Sixty one of his sixty five players four-year players have gone to a final four during his tenure and he’s won three NCAA titles.


It is about how you are able to influence other people to raise their level of performance to new and better heights and contribute more than they previously thought possible.
At best their tactics result in unthinking followers who learn to keep their heads down and do the minimum possible to avoid getting into trouble. These leaders, according to Burns, judge their effectiveness not by their press clippings but by actual social change or the transformation of individual and organizational attitudes and behavior.
They are more optimistic about people’s capabilities and motives than dominators and so, after providing direction, allow them autonomy and self-governance.
In his first years, he suffered some humiliating defeats and by the end of his third year, he was booed in his own gym. As we do, we’ll expand our reach, influencing more and more people to achieve the best results of which they are capable.
People low on the assertiveness dimension are less concerned with taking charge and seeking their own outcomes. Employees of these people get very little reinforcement and are unlikely to have a great deal of interaction with their boss. They are willing to have difficult conversations when performance falls short or differences of opinion exist, but they do so seeking win-win outcomes rather than imposing their own will on others.
They will allow others to take the lead and will let things happen rather than trying to make them happen.
They are “can do” people who have high expectations for themselves and others and know how to get things done.



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