Pacesetting leadership is defined by personal high standards, similar high standards for direct reports, and independent work. In many ways, a leader that leads by pacesetting is someone who is leading primarily by example. To earn respect, pacesetters believe that they must first do something to get that respect from their direct reports. That need turns into an example-based style of leadership where the leader won’t ask anyone to do what they’re not willing to do themselves.
Why Choose Pacesetting As a Primary Leadership Style?
The primary reason why pacesetters are hired is that they can deliver immediate and positive business results. They’re working just as hard as everyone else, if not more so, because they are a high energy bunch that is focused on achieving a quality result every single time. It creates a working environment where speed is of the essence without any compromise on the level of quality. If a direct report isn’t able to keep up, this will be noticed and they will either find a way to change so that they can keep up or find themselves on the outside looking in.
The best reason to bring in a pacesetter is when you’ve got a highly competent team that is already in place. With a pacesetter leading the way, the entire team can focus more on results and less on the intricacies of office politics and other social distractions. It’s the perfect environment to transform an experienced team.
Pacesetters Have Very Little Patience
Working with a pacesetter can be difficult because there are very few opportunities to actually learn. Because the pacesetter is so busy doing everything that everyone else is doing in addition to being a leader, there is very little time to just sit down and answer specific questions about how to get a job done efficiently. Workers are expected to pick up tasks quickly, deliver high quality results immediately, and this can easily create burnout in a team.
Even worse than burnout, however, is the fact that sometimes good workers get left behind simply because they cannot keep up. They get overwhelmed with the whirlwind of the pacesetter because there is hardly ever any time to rest. If pacesetting is used as a long-term approach to leadership, there’s a good chance that the turnover rate for a team is going to be extremely high.
Should Pacesetting Ever Be Used?
Absolutely! If a business needs quick burst of energy or it needs to turn a negative budget line into a positive one in a short amount of time, then pacesetters are the best leaders to get the job done. They provide immediate short-term results that can help make a business solvent or finish a project ahead of schedule and under budget. They’ll take sensible risks, work long hours, and deliver good results time and time again.
Pacesetting isn’t the answer to long-term leadership needs, however, because they’ll burn themselves and their co-workers out with the constant state of activity. Learning how to use pacesetting in specific circumstances is important, but learning how to shut off pacesetting ability as a leader is perhaps the most important skill there is to learn.