At time of writing, in our home page poll, most people think multi-actives make the best leaders (53%) compared to 25% voting for linear-actives and 22% for reactives.
It’s easy to see why if you believe the main qualities for leaders are to be charismatic, big picture visionaries who can win over people’s hearts.
And we have seen in our CultureActive results over the years that there is a clear tendency for leaders (even from linear- and reactive cultures) to be largely multi-active.
But any quality taken to excess can also have its downside. Multi-actives may be great at persuading themselves into senior positions, but how good are they at making decisions? Can they be rash, impulsive and too eager to act quickly without a detailed examination of the facts, or without considering the general principles behind their actions?
There are arguments for linear-actives as great leaders – structured, factual, less influenced by emotion or ego. And what about reactives with their detachment, ability to know (like Lao Tzu) when not to act is the best choice, and with their skill at building consensus and endless patience.
Manfred Kets de Vries, the famous Dutch management writer, once wrote that in his view the best managers globally were Finns, who are essentially linear but with some strong reactive traits. Charisma is suspect in Finland!
As trust in leadership in both business and politics is on the wane globally, perhaps it is time to think about what is really needed from leaders now.
Certainly, in a globalising world, one key quality is the ability to be adaptive and flexible and to be able to put yourself into the shoes of the different cultural types and lead them in a way which makes them want to follow.