The Gentleman

Everyone, or at least nearly everyone, likes the Gentleman (or to be more gender neutral, gentleperson).  This extreme leader is very image conscious, and frequently puts him or herself in a position of agreeing with the point of view of the person they are speaking with.  There is little that strokes an ego more than when a person in a position of power agrees, and consequently, the behavior is ingratiating, and helps this leader develop a highly positive image.

The Gentleman tends to straddle controversial issues, not wanting to take sides, as doing so will lead to a tarnishing of that all important image, at least in the eyes of some subordinates, suppliers or other stakeholders.  Unfortunately, it also means this extreme leader type tends to ignore conflict, politicking and even sometimes simple disagreements to the extreme as well.

At the core of the Gentleperson leader may have a desperate desire to be liked by everyone, and a self-serving belief that by being liked, they will necessarily be more effective.  I've most often witnessed a "Gentleman" leader in the making among the sales ranks, where making tough decisions and potentially angering customers has little to no upside.  Also at work may be an abhorrence of conflict, and a strong desire to avoid such situations.

The Gentleman generally can't give effective critique, often times letting small irritations with subordinates grow to the point where they become major burrs before anything is said.  Conflicts between others in the organization -- often peers -- are permitted to simmer and grow, as the Gentleman avoids stepping in and ending them.  In extreme cases, the Gentleman may actually use a proxy or other circuitous route to make his or her true wishes known to the combatants.

Most people in the organization will actually find this extreme leader to be a likable sort -- particularly when they don't have to deal with some of the behavioral problems spawned by this style of leadership.  Most of the burden falls on those near the top of the company, where there may be substantial conflict, politicking and plenty of ambiguity.

The biggest negative impact of the type is typically due to wasted efforts devoted to extended battles and politics, or the substantial turnover of top management.  The Gentleman, however, will have little trouble replacing departing executives as he or she will be a stellar recruiter.  Underlying challenges of working in this type of organization are not apparent in the short time an interviewee speaks with employees.

Of all the extreme types, this one may have the greatest chance of long term financial success for the organization, but at a steep price for those working directly for him or her.