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What kind of leader are you?

Are you more relationships oriented? Or perhaps more results oriented? Look around you: almost every leader has a natural preference for one or the other. This finding is now also supported by recent research from our long-time strategic assessment partner, Management Research Group. Their research shows that only 3.4 percent of leaders ranked in the top half of both people relations and results focus. Yes, only 3.4%!

In other words, this doesn’t come naturally. In real life, we see leaders indeed often struggle. They apply their natural approach repeatedly. All the time and in every situation. With the pitfall that they become a one-trick-pony. They lose impact.


We all know leaders that are people oriented. Perhaps they were our boss at some point. They usually know personal things about their people; they ask questions and are patient. But they also struggle making tough decisions, hesitate to let people go, compensate personally for underperformers. And on the other side of the spectrum, we all know leaders that are extremely task focused, are all about business, make tough decisions easily and don’t seem to care a lot about the people impact. But as long as they produce results, it’s all right.


As said, it’s a scale we find ourselves on. We can learn to apply some of the behaviors from the other side of the spectrum. And we can learn to better navigate which behavior is effective in which situation. If we do this, we dramatically increase our impact as a leader.


It’s only human to have a natural preference. But remember: it’s a huge opportunity to learn some of the other behaviors too!


Where to start?

  1. Self-assess: where do you believe you are on a 1 – 5 (1=not at all, 5=very much) scale when it comes to your people orientation? Do the same for your results focus.
  2. Ask 5 people that you trust, that are close to you (not your Fanclub!) to do the same for you.
  3. Now, look in the mirror! What are people really trying to tell you?
  4. Discuss the outcome with them and ask them for suggestions to grow.
  5. Check-in with them again after 6 and 12 months with the same question: have you perceived changes in my approach?


If you were able to make positive changes in your approach and it’s perceived by some of the people around you, then you know you’ve made measurable progress.


I’m fortunate to have worked one-on-one and in groups with more than 5.000 leaders in the last 25 years. And it’s extremely rare when you meet with leaders that truly master this balance. Almost all of us tend to one side or the other. So, don’t be too hard on yourself. Focus on getting better from where you are today.


Hope this inspires


Paul Donkers

Paul P.J. Donkers is a sought-after global business coach and management consultant. More about his work and projects can be found via and via

Paul and his partners work since decades with leaders to assist them create more value. If you want to have a confidential conversation, just reach out to us via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

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