There are many tools that leaders of a workforce can use to manage their team and optimize results. Knowing which style will work best to reach your goals is an important skill to develop.
If you have a short-term deadline to meet and a highly skilled team, Pacesetting Leadership may be the right option for you. This article will examine the ins and outs of this leadership style, giving you all the information you need to be a successful Pacesetting leader.
What is Pacesetting Leadership?
The Pacesetting Leadership style is summarized by the phrase “Do as I do, now.”
A leader using this method will lead by example, demonstrating the quality of work and speed that they expect from their team.
They set high standards for themself and demand the same from everybody else. Motivation and a drive for excellence are a must, only the best will do for these leaders.
Success using this method will result in high-quality work accomplished in a short period of time. Goals have the potential to be reached in record time when everyone is at peak performance.
The main focus of a Pacesetter is the result. There is no time for the consideration of other factors as they race to complete their task.
Daniel Goleman, a renowned psychologist, published an article titled “Leadership That Gets Results” in the Harvard Business Review. In this, he details six styles of Leadership that he has observed and how they relate to emotional intelligence.
According to Goleman, emotional intelligence is a crucial element for all leaders to consider. A person’s competence in this field can make or break their success in business endeavors.
Pacesetting Leadership is one of the leadership styles which he has identified.
Characteristics of Pacesetting Leadership
In addition to leading by example, a person using this style of Leadership will display the following qualities:
- A high level of skill
- Drive for constant improvement
- High standards for performance
- Demand for rapid results
In order for this method to be employed, there are a few prerequisites that must be met to ensure success:
- Each member of the team already knows how to do their job independently
- The Leader will not need to monitor their employees
- Goals will be met at a fast pace
- End result is prioritized over all else
- High quality of work
- A Pacesetting leader is able to put out work at the highest level of quality; as such, they will accept no less from their employees.
- People generally feel good about following a leader that is able to demonstrate their own competence.
- Inspiring others to achieve peak performance
- A highly energetic and motivated leader can help show their team what they are truly capable of when they push themselves.
- Putting their skills to the test can help boost confidence in their own abilities as well as their respect for coworkers who are also working their hardest.
- Goals are achieved quickly
- Results are produced rapidly with little oversight. The team following a Pacesetting leader must be incredibly knowledgeable.
- This team could be deployed in the future to meet a tight deadline. Building a group that has proven to get quick results can come in very handy under strict time constraints.
- Employee Burnout
- While following a Pacesetting Leader can initially be inspiring, the high-pressure environment that it creates can lead to employees feeling unmotivated and overworked.
- Continuously striving for excellence and improvement without proper time to learn and absorb new skills can be extremely stressful.
- If one or more team members are unable to keep up with the demands, the end result could be placed in jeopardy.
- Ineffective for the long term
- There can be severe negative impacts on the work climate if this leadership style is used long-term.
- The rate of output and quality demanded is not sustainable over extended periods of time.
- Loss of trust in the workplace
- Workers may not feel like they can ask questions, as they are expected to already have the knowledge they need for the job at hand.
- A Pacesetting leader will often take over a task themselves if it is not being done quickly enough. Because of this, the exact work expectations may not always be clear, and there is no time to elaborate. This can make it very hard for employees to see how their work fits into the big picture.
When is Pacesetting Leadership effective?
Pacesetting Leadership is extremely useful when there is a project that must be completed quickly. The ability to meet short-term goals with high-quality work is a hallmark of this leadership style.
It will work well if you already have a small, well-trained team that is able to work independently. Specialists in a field will be capable of doing their part of the work while trusting that everyone else is doing the same.
Using other styles of Leadership in addition to Pacesetting can help offset negative effects on morale and limit employee burnout.
When should it be avoided?
This style of Leadership is not ideal for the long term. Over extended periods of time, the members of the team may become bored and tired as a result of the immense pressure placed on them by this type of Leader.
An inexperienced team will fail under this Leader, as this style depends on each individual doing their work with no instruction. A Pacesetting leader does not have time to train members of their team, and those who cannot perform will be removed.
If you are trying to build a work culture of collaboration and trust, overuse of Pacesetting Leadership might not be appropriate. Not every person will be able to meet the constantly high standards demanded by this Leader.
How to implement a Pacesetting Leadership style
- Lead by example
You must embody the quality and speed at which others are expected to work at. As the name suggests, the Leader must be able to exemplify the output that they want from others.
- Use in conjunction with other styles of Leadership
Pacesetting will be most effective if it is not the only style of Leadership being used. Therefore, take the time to become familiar with other Leadership styles as well.
Goleman recommends finding a balance of all six of his leadership styles; this requires a level of flexibility to switch between different methods as is appropriate.
- Provide opportunities for training
Outside of specific deadlines, allowing employees to build new skills and learn will help increase their confidence.
Having a space to learn and ask questions is vital for the continued improvement of a team. Giving staff room to grow will also help develop a higher level of commitment to the company.
Your expectations should be clearly laid out for all workers involved. Giving feedback and performance evaluations can help set team members up for success in the future.
Check in with your employees to see how they are feeling. A little empathy can go a long way.
Examples of Pacesetting Leadership
Many military leaders rely on the use of this leadership style.
Their subordinates are highly trained and expected to perform independently under stressful scenarios. While the ultimate goal may be unclear to each unit, they are all expected to follow their instructions without question.
There is no tolerance for mistakes, and all members must exhibit the highest level of excellence without supervision. In both military operations and Pacesetting Leadership, the failure of one person could lead to a catastrophic outcome.
Heads of legal teams or research and development departments can also confidently use this as their style of Leadership.
Members of these teams have most likely received extensive education and training in their fields. As a result, a specialist will be able to perform the tasks they are assigned with little guidance.
Leaders in these fields have also most likely reached that level through the demonstration of their knowledge and skills. This makes them good candidates to be Pacesetters, as they already have experience in the work that must be done.
Famous Pacesetting leaders
- Jack Welch - Former CEO of GE
A classic example of Pacesetting Leadership, Jack was able to maximize the output of company staff during his tenure as CEO at GE from 1981 to 2001.
He highly rewarded top performers and eliminated the weakest. While this was effective for a time, many employees were unhappy with their work environment and the constant pressure that was put on them to perform.
He is remembered as a very hands-off Leader who lacked empathy for those under his guidance. Over a four year period, he eliminated over 100,000 jobs from the company. While this was good for maximizing profits, it did create a sense of unease for the employees.
- Stanley Kubrick - Film Director
Kubrick is widely recognized as one of the greatest filmmakers of his time.
He reached this level of greatness by demanding perfection from those that worked with him. Jack Nicholson said that it was not unusual for them to shoot a scene over 50 times while filming The Shining.
Several actors have discussed how tiring and stressful it was to work with him. However, the results cannot be denied. Many of his films have received numerous awards and high praise from critics.
Kubrick is remembered as being both a genius of filmmaking and for being extremely demanding to work with.
- Sir Alex Ferguson - Scottish Soccer Manager
Considered by many to be one of the greatest team managers of all time, Ferguson led the Manchester United team to 13 premier league titles over the course of his 26 years with the team.
His tireless drive to improve the team and its players over the years was undoubtedly a factor in his success. He is well known for being an extremely hard worker, missing only 2 games out of approximately 1,500.
His dedication to his team was exceptional, and he expected the same from each of them. By setting this example of work ethic, he motivated his players to be their best.
It is said that on several occasions, his locker room speech to the team was no more than “go win the game,” and more often than not, they would do just that.
Although he certainly used several leadership strategies throughout his career, there are some clear examples of him being a Pacesetting Leader for his team.
The Pacesetting leadership style certainly has its place in a manager’s arsenal of tools. Leading by example can help inspire your team to work hard and upgrade their output.
When used in the short term to achieve a specific result, it can be highly effective. It can be a great opportunity to let your star employees shine and show off their skills.
However, if overused, this style of Leadership can demolish the morale and motivation of a workforce. Over time, the high level of pressure will cause team members to burn out and lose steam.
Knowing a variety of leadership methods and when to use them is essential for anybody in a management role.