Richard G. Jones, Jr.
Scholar, Educator, Author

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The Rarest Type of Leader:

Feb 17, 2013

What Makes an Achievement-Oriented Leader?

Achievement-oriented leaders strive for excellence and set challenging goals, constantly seeking improvement and exhibiting confidence that their group members can meet their high expectations. These leaders often engage in systematic social comparison, keeping tabs on other similar high-performing groups to assess their expectations and the group’s progress.

This type of leadership is similar to what other scholars call transformational or visionary leadership and is often associated with leaders like former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, and business magnate turned philanthropist Warren Buffett.

The achievement-oriented leadership style is less common than other leadership styles (for example" autocratic leaders, democratic leaders, laissez-faire leaders) since this style requires a high level of skill and commitment on the part of the leader and the group. Although rare, these leaders can be found at all levels of groups ranging from local school boards to Fortune 500 companies.

Certain group dynamics must be in place in order to accommodate this leadership style. Groups for which an achievement-oriented leadership style would be effective are typically intentionally created and are made up of members who are skilled and competent in regards to the group’s task. In many cases, the leader is specifically chosen because of his or her reputation and expertise, and even though the group members may not have a history of working with the leader, the members and leader must have a high degree of mutual respect.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Can you think of other examples of achievement-oriented leaders aside from the ones mentioned above?
  2. Have you ever had an achievement-oriented leader? What was his or her communication style like?