To lead effectively, adopt a style opposite that of the practice culture

Is your practice’s culture task-oriented, that is, focused externally on problems, or relationship-oriented, that is, focused internally on issues such as communication and participation?

Whichever it is, adopt the opposite style if you want to be an effective leader, a new study suggests.

Researchers from Georgia State University found that improving an organization’s performance comes down to its leader adopting a leadership style opposite that of the culture, that is, if the culture is task-oriented, the leader should be relationship-oriented, and vice versa.

The study was published in the June issue of Applied Psychology.

Data was collected from 119 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and 337 top management teammembers in 119 organizations in the U.S. software and hardware industries.

Contradicting widely accepted beliefs, the researchers found that CEOs who adopt a leadership style similar to that of the organization’s culture have a negative impact on firm performance, but when they adopted the opposite style, they were more effective.

“Consistencies between CEO leadership and culture create redundancies,” said Chad A. Hartnell, PhD, one of the study authors. “Leaders who are culture conformists are thus ineffective. CEOs who lead in a manner different from the culture benefit companies because they provide resources to the organization that the culture does not.”

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