Actualized Leadership: The Achiever Style and the Detached Culture

Actualized Leadership: The Achiever Style and the Detached Culture

The mentality of groups is not that of individuals.
Emile Durkheim

Over the next few weeks I would like to shift our focus from the individual to the group by examining the impact of personal style on others, specifically others in a group setting.  We will review the unique climate or “cultures” that the Achiever, Affirmer, and Asserter styles create, and then examine ways to create more actualized or “dynamic” group or team performance.  Today’s entry will focus on the Achiever style, and how his or her Fear of Failure “Shadow” creates a Detached team environment.

Before exploring the impact that Achievers have on others, I want to present the “Actualized Performance Cycle” framework that illustrates the connection between leader style and group performance.


The sad irony in life is that individuals who have a very high need for achievement, Achievers, create the lowest performing culture – Detached.  Because of their need for absolute perfection, Achievers sweat every detail while micromanaging their teams.  This dynamic plays out over and over again in work group settings.  Achievers are often too bogged down in the details and attempt to not only manage, but often micromanage, the group.  Under stress, when their “Fear of Failure Shadow” is activated, their very high level of directive style and rigid outlook creates frustration, anger, and apathy in those they work with, resulting in a Detached culture.

Group members express anger either aggressively, with open conflict and personal attacks, or passively by disengaging psychologically or physically.  Psychological disengagement manifests when the group becomes more interested in their mobile phones, iPads, or what’s for lunch than in the purpose of the meeting.  Physical disengagement occurs when group members habitually arrive late, leave early, or miss meetings altogether.  Whether the anger is expressed actively or passively, members in a Detached culture are not in the optimal position for candid discussions, healthy debate, and rational decision-making.  And Detached groups are the most likely to suffer from the group decision-making dysfunction known as “Groupthink,” which has been blamed for incidents like President Kennedy’s “Bay of Pigs” invasion and NASA’s tragic decision to launch Challenger in 1986.

Are you a high Achiever?  Are you a perfectionist?  If so, take heed … under stress you may be creating a Detached culture for those around you, and if not properly addressed and managed, you will very likely experience what you fear the most: failure.



  1. Actualized Leadership: The Affirmer Style and the Dramatic Culture | Dr. Will Sparks - […] our last BLOG we examined how the “Fear of Failure” Leadership Shadow of Achievers creates and reinforces a […]

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