When I go to London, I use maps to get around – usually at least a Tube map and a street map.   They are both useful but neither of them shows all the information I might need.  It’s the same with being a leader – no single model of leadership will tell you everything you need to know.  But most of them will add something to your toolkit as a manager.

One that I find particularly useful is the Berens’ Interaction Styles model.  As a leader in any organisation, you will most likely spend a high proportion of your time communicating with other people – your team, your colleagues, other departments, customers, suppliers, investors and so on. 

Being aware of your natural style of interacting with others is a key skill for a leader. Knowing how you come across to other people and the impact of your behaviour on them enables you to adapt and flex your style to suit the situation and the person you are communicating with. 

This gives you more chance of building rapport and achieving what you want. 

What are the four Styles?  And how do they relate to leadership?

Interaction Style Inner Drive Leadership Style Benefits Pitfalls

To get a course of action Focused Creates order
Reduces risk
May appear inflexible and uncommunicative.  
MOBILISER       To get action with results Determined Sets the pace
Gets things done
May take over and not empower others to act.

To get involvement Engaging Pulls people in Collaborative
Gets buy-in  
May lose focus on the task and create confusion.

To get the best result Approachable Democratic
Gets the best result
May take too long and decisions may be unclear.

Each style brings strengths and challenges to interactions with others and each one makes a unique contribution to getting things done.  In an ideal world, a team at work would have someone from each style:

  • A Mobiliser to get on quickly with the task.
  • A Navigator to work out how to reach the goal.
  • An Energiser to get everyone involved and motivated.
  • A Synthesiser to consult and get relevant input to achieve the task.

A key skill for a leader is being able to flex how you interact and lead, depending on the circumstances.  Use the table above as a map to help you get around with the people you need to communicate with. 

Ask yourself:

  • What am I trying to achieve?
  • Which style would be most effective in these circumstances?

We can learn to flex our styles and get better results for everyone!

For a real life example of a Focused Leader, read about Gareth Southgate.