What Does Perceptual Style Theory Tell You About Leadership? Part 3 – Activity and Methods

In the first two parts of this five part series on PST and leadership we looked at the nature of leadership and the five qualities of leadership affected by PST. In the last three articles we will look at how each specific PS leads. Each article will look at two PST based opposite PS and provide real world examples of each style*.

Lynda-Ross Vega

Lynda-Ross Vega

Those with the Activity Perceptual Style are not continuous leaders. They prefer to let people pursue their own directions but will step up to leadership as a crisis or situational problem demands that someone step into the leadership role. Even in these situations, Activity is not overt or commanding, but takes an involved hands on approach. Others follow Activity people because they see and respect the sensitivity they have to the subtleties and complexities of relational politics. Activity people influence the actions and decisions of key people with whom they have built influential relationships. Since they build influential relationships with key people at all levels of life they can draw upon a wide variety of resources. They only sporadically use the influence they have with the members of their relational network, but their influence can be powerful when they do. Activity’s restraint builds trust and support from followers and those they influence alike. In addition to the influence that they bring to bear on people in key positions, Activity also leads by creating alliances with people they recognize as moving in or supporting the direction they want events to go.

In the real world the Activity leadership style can be readily seen in the entertainment industry in people who use their popularity and social standing to organize and support social causes as do many celebrities (Clint Eastwood, Robin Williams, Ellen DeGeneres) or who have behind-the-scenes influence (Ben Stiller, Danny DeVito).

Those with the Methods Perceptual Style lead logically and matter-of-factly. They believe that an analysis of the facts will point to the correct and most effective course of action, so they do not take unnecessary risks. These qualities make Methods people quiet leaders who move followers forward incrementally, securing gains as they come, and solidifying their positions before moving forward again. They are administrative leaders who are calm in the face of crisis and steer a steady course through chaotic times, but they intervene reluctantly and change direction only after a complete empirical examination of a situation. When things are moving forward smoothly they are content to let things be, refusing to unsettle a plan that is working just for the sake of change. Methods leaders attract followers with the common sense aspect of their clear, rational approach.

In the real world the Methods leadership style can be readily seen in both the professional sports world, especially in coaches such as Tom Landry (Dallas Cowboys), Phil Jackson (Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers), Joe Torre (New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers), and the political arena in people such as Presidents Gerald Ford and Dwight Eisenhower.

*It is impossible to determine another’s PS by observation alone. This is especially true for public figures. The examples provided ‘appear’, based on their public behavior, to be the PS for which they are used as examples. However, without having them complete the Perceptual Style Assessment their assignment to a particular PS is an educated guess only.

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