The Connective Leadership/Achieving Styles Model
The Connective Leadership Model represents a leadership model designed for the current Connective Era, an era marked by the tensions between interdependence and diversity.1 The Connective Era calls for new leadership strategies to enable individuals and groups with diverse – and potentially conflicting - backgrounds, talents, and agendas to live and work together productively, creatively, and harmoniously for their mutual benefit.
In the Connective Era, technology, exemplified by the internet, continues to expose and intensify the connections between everyone and everything. These tight and tightening connections result in interdependence, best served by collaboration and other forms of joint action. In this challenging environment, leaders who can identify the mutual concerns and needs of diverse groups – no matter how seemingly limited – can help them to build bonds of understanding and initiate productive collaborative enterprises.
Connective leaders bring precisely these leadership strengths to the table. They have the insight and skills to help divergent, even adversarial, individuals and groups come together initially around limited areas of mutuality. Then, gradually, they encourage these cautious collaborators to broaden the scope of their shared concerns to address more complex, even contentious, issues.
Connective leaders plant and nourish the seeds of understanding among their constituents, using a nine-fold repertoire of behavioral strategies. We call these behavioral strategies “achieving styles” to draw attention not to past achievements, but to the on-going process and the different ways in which individuals accomplish their tasks (Lipman-Blumen, Handley-Isaksen, and Leavitt, 1983).2 More specifically, achieving styles are those learned, characteristic behaviors that we all call upon repeatedly to achieve our goals.
Reinforced by past successes, most individuals tend to rely upon a limited set of comfortable, “no fail” achieving styles. By contrast, connective leaders routinely draw upon the entire nine-fold behavioral repertoire that the Achieving Styles Model delineates. Guided by situational cues, connective leaders select the most appropriate combination of behavioral strategies to achieve the particular goal on which they are currently focused.