Leading the Leaders (How to Enrich Your Style of Management and Handle People Whose Style is Different From Yours)

ABOUT Ichak Adizes

Ichak Adizes
Dr. Ichak Adizes is one of the leading management experts in the world. He was selected by Leadership Excellence Journal among the top thirty Thought Leaders of America and by Executive Excellence Journal among the top thirty consultants of America. For his contribution to management theor More...


This book was written to help you discover your basic management style and compensate for your weaknesses so you can work better with others – subordinates, peers, and those you report to – whose management styles are different from your own. It does this by providing prescriptions to follow for each management style, notes from the battleground based on my experiences in coaching executives around the world for the past 30 years.

The prescriptions are intended to enrich management styles, not to achieve a total personality change in managers.

The purpose of coaching is to make managers, whatever their personal style, more flexible so they can work with others whose styles are different. Granted, this represents more of an incremental, continuous improvement than a revolutionary change or paradigm shift. But that’s life. I do not believe people can change their innate character. People do not change, but since they can get worse, they can also get better, and that might be all that’s needed to be able to work with them.

My premise, which I fully developed in The Ideal Executive and reiterate in Chapter 1 of this book, is that the ideal leader, manager, or executive does not and cannot exist. All the literature that attempts to teach us to be perfect managers is based on the erroneous assumption that it is possible. No one can excel at all of the roles expected of leaders or managers. A person may excel in one or more roles, but not in all of them under all circumstances.

Classic management theorists prescribe nostrums based on the assumption that all managers have the same style and can be trained to manage the same way. But this overlooks the fact that different people organize, plan, and motivate --differently. Simply put, different managers manage differently. What is needed is a complementary team. But how can different management styles complement each other and work together when they are so unlike each other?

The first step is to understand that the different styles speak different languages; they infer different meanings from different words and gestures. While conflict between the different styles is unavoidable, learning to speak the language of the people we work with allows us to build and nourish a complementary team and prevent conflict from becoming destructive.

Pay attention to how your behavior affects others. If you know your style, you also know that your style of communicating is apt to be problematic for the other styles. If you know how it is problematic, you can compensate. This is the purpose of the book: How to compensate for your style so you can work with others, and how to coach them so they can work with each other.
“Over a quarter of a century spent in the field of organizational transformation has provided Dr. Adizes with a unique base of knowledge and expertise that floods the pages of Leading the Leaders. His insights cut straight to the heart of what it means to effectively manage and lead others”.

—Anthony Robbins, Author, Awaken the Giant Within and Unlimited Power

“The Adizes approach to developing trust and mutual respect in an organization is the most effective tool that I have encountered for building strong leadership teams and getting results.”

—LYNN L. ELSENHANS, President and Country Chair, Shell Oil Company

“Dr. Adizes has brilliantly captured the hows and whys of management and organizational function and dysfunction. In this enlightening book we learn why people and organizations behave as they do and what we can do about it.”

—Dennis Alter, Chairman and CEO of Advanta Corporation

“The most thought-provoking book I’ve read in a long time. There are any number of writings that give you simplistic thoughts or nice slogans regarding business, but they miss the mark when it comes to getting you to seriously analyze and reconsider what you’ve been doing and how you might improve yourself and your business.”

—George Lilly, President, SJL Broadcast Management Corp.