8 Dimensions of Leadership

“To be an effective leader you need to know your strengths – but that’s only part of the story. You also need a broad perspective on all the behaviours needed to be an effective leader.”

Our challenge as leaders is to develop our skills and talents and make them more effective. We all have strengths and we have styles and strategies that have served us well in the past. Effective leaders are those who understand their strengths, who know what’s working for them and what isn’t, and who have the ability to draw on other dimensions as required.

A raft of profiling tools have been designed to provide leaders with personal insights, models to increase their flexibility in leadership behaviours, and resources to which we can return as we gain more experiences and become more multidimensional leaders.

8 dimensions of leadershipOne such tool is The 8 Dimensions of Leadership by Jeffrey Sugerman, Mark Scullard and Emma Wilhelm (Berret-Koehler, 2011), which helps us identify our primary leadership dimension and ways to become a multi-dimensional leader. The book is targeted at both new and experienced managers, and can be used when undertaking 360 reviews, or in coaching relationships.

Based on the empirical and theoretical research that underpins the latest generation of the Everything DiSC® model of human behaviour, the book outlines eight dimensions of leadership, and the psychological drivers, motivations and ‘blind spots’ which are characteristic of each.

The eight dimensions can be briefly summarised as:8dimensions_pie

  1. Pioneering – dynamic, charismatic, and adventurous
  2. Energising – outgoing, encouraging, and spontaneous
  3. Affirming – approachable, friendly, and positive
  4. Inclusive – patient, accepting, and diplomatic
  5. Humble –soft-spoken, precise, and modest
  6. Deliberate – systematic, analytical, and cautious
  7. Resolute – rational, challenging, and determined
  8. Commanding –assertive, competitive, and driven

The authors’ research indicates that as leaders we need to utilise all eight dimensions for various aspects of our work, but that most leaders will have a preference for specific dimensions that are related to our primary DiSC behavioural style.

Not surprisingly, the most difficult dimensions for a leader to achieve will be the ones that are diagonally opposite our primary style on the DiSC Leadership Map.

Each dimension has its own strengths and challenges, which are outlined in detail in the book. The book also provides specific strategies and techniques we can apply to increase our effectiveness, based on our preferred dimensions of behaviour.

We have four ways of determining our preferences:

  1. Complete an online assessment – the most precise method*
  2. Utilise the results of a previous DiSC assessment (see our DiSC pages for more information about the various profiles available)
  3. Make a judgment call based on written descriptions, such as contained in the book or from various online sites

* Obtain your free 8 Dimensions of Leadership report

Act Knowledge can provide you with a free online assessment identifying your primary leadership dimension. The assessment should take less than 15 minutes to complete, and provides you with a one-page book map that points you towards specific chapters in the book that can help you focus your leadership development efforts. Request your FREE access code here.

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