Dominance is one of the most misunderstood roles in nature and in the corporate world. If you follow the dictionary definition of dominance, to be dominant you have to be: commanding, controlling, or prevailing over all others. Unfortunately this definition of dominance is in it’s immature form and never matures to be truly useful.
When someone feels the need to dominate, especially through force and intimidation, chances are he’s inexperienced in the nuances of more mature forms of leadership. Dominance is a basic, albeit adolescent, claim for power!
Linda Kohanov has further observed and defined this role in the Five Roles of Leadership.
In “The Power of the Herd” Linda Kohanov fleshes out all the characteristics, challenges and benefits of the Dominant role in nature and in our everyday lives at home and at work. The dominant role shows up in an immature form and also in a mature form. Just guess which one is most useful and productive for everyone involved. Let’s first identify the characteristics of the immature form of Dominance.
Characteristics of an Immature Dominant
- Keeps others away from something valuable.
- Uses intimidation as a management tool.
- Sometimes attacks others for no reason (just to keep everyone a bit on edge).
- Intends to make others look away or move away.
- Refuses to move when others ask.
- Herds others by driving from behind.
Benefits of a Mature Dominant
- “Direct and Protect” Orientation.
- Naturally excels at setting boundaries with aggressors.
- Breaks up fights between herd members.
- Keeps other herd members out of trouble.
- Moves stubborn or lazy herd members.
- Most likely to challenge predators.
Challenges of an Immature Dominant
- The main dysfunctions of the dominant stem from the orientation to intimidate and push other herd members away from food, water, valued herd members, etc.
- Because immature dominant individuals occasionally launch unnerved attacks, they are the most feared, least trusted herd members.
- It’s difficult for them to lead anyone anywhere in a crisis. Immature dominants increase panic and decrease problem-solving abilities in others.
Thoughtful uses of Mature Dominance
- Stop unproductive behaviour in groups.
- Manage disagreements between team members.
- Handle aggressive or passive aggressive power plays.
- Motivate “lazy” or resistant individuals to take action.
- Protect valuable resources from those who would take advantage.
When used in it’s mature form and used thoughtfully the dominant role can prove to be invaluable. As long as you understand that this is not the only tool in any leadership role. In most scenarios and in most teams this needs to be part of a leadership format and must not be used solely in it’s immature form which it so often is.
In horses and humans alike, equanimity is the sign of a mature, well-balanced individual, one who stays centred when others become reactive, who sets reasonable boundaries without ordering everyone else around, whose clarity, composure, and poise are downright contagious.
Businesses with significant internal strife have trouble doing business. Temperamental film directors go over budget and fall behind schedule. Politicians who inflame and manipulate public sentiments have trouble passing effective legislation. And horses who spook at every little thing lose in the show arena.
Are you curious if other see you as a dominant leader, mature or immature? Read more about the master hearder professional assessment to determine what type of leader your are.
Learning the mature form of dominance and learning to balance it with the other four roles of leadership taught in our leadership workshops, will be a game changer and affect the bottom line every time.