Leaders: Pragmatic, Problematic, Or Plastic?

LEADERS by definition can fall into a multitude of categories at the same time as having a plethora of genres. The same can be said for the style of leadership the leader employs in conjunction with the nature of the environment or culture he is leading in. No small determining factor in how effective a leader can be is who are his “constituents” aka followers.

For the purposes of this article which is based primarily on the opinion(s) of this writer, I have broken leaders down into three distinct categories which are as follows: pragmatic, problematic or plastic. The latter two of the three categories present the greatest challenges a leader must endure and ultimately overcome if he is to attain any measurable amount of success.

Starting with the pragmatic leader who is by far the strongest of the three types I mentioned above. I would like to give a view of what makes up this type of leader while illustrating the variables he possesses that give him a winning edge. A pragmatic leader will always deal with matters at hand in a manner that is based on the practice of doing things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

A pragmatic leader is one who will typically have both feet on the ground, common sensical oriented with at times a hard-headed no-nonsense approach. He will be most concerned with the facts as they relate to the situation at hand with no time for so-called idealistic, artistic, or even intellectual solutions as this type of leader correctly focuses on solving problems in a manner that exemplifies what the concept of leadership is all about while eliminating the pitfalls other types of leaders seem to so stumble on.

Conversely, the problematic leader is the polar opposite of the pragmatic leader in that each step in his leadership process no matter how well intended or drawn up inevitably leads to problems that snowball into unnecessarily complex situations that require the most intricate of solutions to extract the root cause of the problem leading to a solution. A problematic leader will never be a successful leader as his ideas/solutions create concrete road blocks. Whatever system he tries to employ invariably a problem crops up that becomes a problem for him to try to solve. If this leader can ever lift himself out of the quagmire circle he winds up getting swallowed up in he may have a chance of becoming a true leader providing he has the other necessary intangible assets that all leaders must have.

Now we come to the leader that I have dubiously named the plastic leader. The plastic leader has a hard but somewhat malleable exterior but with little to show underneath that demonstrates any semblance of leadership skills or ability. The plastic leader my exude confidence in those who he is trying to con into thinking his “leadership” is needed and delivers real results.

Underneath the plastic ultimately may reveal somebody whose unconventional/unscripted style could have a positive ripple effect especially on those times thick-skinned pragmatic leaders who are clearly the elite as far as leaders are concerned are too pragmatic for their own good. More often than not the plastic leader is just plastic. He was cast from a mold with the idea he could achieve great things. Unfortunately, the superficiality of this wanna be leader peeks out from the shell revealing a frail individual that has not yet ripened nor formulated his skills or know how. While it is plausible a true rebirthed leader can emerge from this shell the chances of that happening are not overly enticing as this person as I alluded to earlier is a by-product of a mold that somebody poured this mish-mosh mixture into with the hope they can create a leader that will suit their needs or the perceived needs of others.

Three different styles with three different thought processes and modus operandi for us to ponder. Leadership is a tricky game that when not played correctly leads to calamity-filled consequences. It would not be for me to tell you which style works best but I can highly recommend to you that the pragmatic leader offers the best of what a leader can and should be able to offer.

Consider each scenario I have presented that once again are based heavily on opinion but tinged with factual information and decide for yourself if you need a leader or want to follow a leader which of the three best suits not only your needs but the needs of a collective group as well.


Joel Elveson
Joel Elveson
INDEPENDENT Executive Recruiting By Joel is an "up and coming" Executive Search Firm formed and headed up by Joel Elveson whose visionary ideas, leadership & creativity have brought to life a more "user-friendly" approach to recruiting. His clients and candidates form powerful strategic partnerships that we use to help you. Joel’s Firm offers Permanent, Temporary (case by case), & Temporary To Permanent staffing solutions for all of your Human Capital Requirements. Contract IT/Consultants are available if needed. Above and beyond they are experts (by way of their personal industry work experience) with mortgage, mortgage banking, middle-market banking, accounting, along with many others under the vast financial spectrum of disciplines. Their business goes beyond candidate recruiting as they also train, mentor and develop your internal recruiting staff with an eye towards helping you reduce the cost of hiring. They will also work in areas such as compensation, effective onboarding processes and alike. In other words, their business is to help your business by becoming an extension of you by filling in gaps that cause delay or waste. The recruiting methods employed by Joel’s team are time tested that results in a high rate of successful placements. Joel was trained in the art of recruiting by some of the top staffing industry executives in addition to the best recruiter trainers who to this day drive me to exceed the lofty goals he has set forth.

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