ATD Blog

Why Interpersonal Leaders Are Necessary, But Not Sufficient

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hello training and development professionals. What you do matters. You’re building the next generation of leaders. Keep doing that. And at the same time, open your eyes to the need to train more than just interpersonal leaders. 

Interpersonal leaders are critically important to inspiring and enabling teams. Not going to debate that. But, the world needs more. The world needs strong scientific leaders and artistic leaders, as well. And the world needs you to train and develop them. So, quit dawdling. Let’s get on with it. 

Webster defines leader as “a person who rules, guides, or inspires others.” 

Artistic leaders inspire by influencing perceptions. They help us see, hear, taste, smell and touch new things or the same things in new ways. You can find these leaders creating new designs, new art, and the like. These people generally have no interest in ruling or guiding. They are all about inspiration. 

Scientific leaders guide and inspire by influencing knowledge with their thinking and ideas. You can find them creating new technologies, doing research and writing, teaching and the like. Their ideas tend to be well thought-through, supported by data and analysis, and logical. These people develop structure and frameworks that guide others. 

Interpersonal leaders can be found ruling, guiding, and inspiring at the head of their interpersonal cohort –whether it’s a team, organization, or political entity. They come in all shapes and sizes, and influence behaviors in different ways. The common dimension across interpersonal leaders is that they are leading other people. 

Net, artistic leaders inspire by influencing perceptions. Scientific leaders guide and inspire by influencing knowledge. Interpersonal leaders rule, guide, and inspire to influence behaviors. And, oh by the way, these are not mutual exclusive. Leaders can lead in more than one way. 

BRAVE leaders 

The BRAVE Leadership framework applies to all leaders. Artistic, scientific and interpersonal leaders should ask the same five BRAVE questions around behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values and the environment. Since they are asking them through different lenses they may ask them differently and get different answers. 





Where to play?            


Which media?

Which problems?

Which context?

What matters and why?



The cause

How to win?

New thinking

Better thinking

Rally the team


How to connect?

With their souls

With their minds

With their hearts

What impact?

Influence perceptions

Influence knowledge

Influence behaviors

   Implications for training and development 

This is not a set of metaphors for different types of team leaders. Of course, different interpersonal leaders have different strengths, and you should train and develop them in ways that take advantage of those strengths to help them lead in different ways. What we’re talking about here is a whole different ball game with a completely different set of rules. 

We’re talking about investing in training and development to help artists be better artists and scientists be better scientists. This is going to require a different context, a different framework for what matters, a different approach, different ways of relating to them, and different behaviors by you as trainers and developers, by their supervisors, by their colleagues. 

Don’t wait. Invest in it now. We can’t afford to become a society of nothing but interpersonal leaders. 

Request an executive summary of our new book First-Time Leader, which goes into more depth on BRAVE leadership.

About the Author

George Bradt has a unique perspective on transformational leadership based on his experience as a business leader, consultant, and journalist. He progressed through sales, marketing, and general management roles around the world at companies including Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and J.D. Power’s Power Information Network spin-off as chief executive. Now he is a principal of CEO Connection and managing director of the executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis.

George is a graduate of Harvard and Wharton (MBA), co-author of four books on onboarding, including The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan, and co-author of a weekly column on, The New Leader’s Playbook.

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