Leadership Styles

Kris Casariego is Marketing Director for Predictable Success. We recently sat down with Kris to learn about the stages of a business’s lifecycle, the different styles of leadership, and the benefits and shortcomings of each of these leadership styles.

Briefly Explain the Predictable Success Leadership Development Model

To start, it’s much more than a leadership development model; it’s a time-tested model of both organizational and leadership development. Predictable Success is a methodology we use to guide executive teams to scalability. Executive teams that implement Predictable Success can grow their organization to whatever size their industry will allow in the geographical region where they want to play. The model is rooted in the seven stages of growth and occasional decline that any business will go through regardless of size or industry. Les McKeown created the model based on his 30 years of starting and helping to start more than 40 businesses and working with large organizations like Harvard University, Google, T-Mobile, American Express, and more.

What are the Stages of the Lifecycle of a Business?

Imagine an arc with seven plot points on it labeled with the seven stages of the Predictable Success Growth Cycle. Predictable Success is, predictably, at the top. The three stages before Predictable Success (Early Struggle, Fun, and Whitewater) are growth stages. The stages after Predictable Success (Treadmill, The Big Rut, and Death Rattle) are decline stages.

Has This Model Changed in Recent Years With the Advent of E-businesses and Entrepreneurial Enterprises?

The model itself hasn’t changed in recent years – and probably hasn’t for hundreds of years. However, changes and fluctuations in the business environment may have an effect on what stages of the model have more need for focus or get more attention at a given time. For instance, e-businesses and other changes in the marketplace have made starting a business more accessible, and there are more new businesses than ever before. Along with that, the media’s attention to entrepreneurship has glamorized the idea of being a “funky new start-up” when, in reality, the only strategic option for a start-up is to stop being a start-up. The longer you stay in Early Struggle, the higher your chances of failure are.

How Should an Executive’s Style of Leadership Change or Adapt Depending on What Stage of the Lifecycle his or her Business is in?

The Predictable Success model includes four different leadership styles that make up the unique styles mix of every leader

  • Visionaries are the big-thinkers turned on by ideas, easily bored with minutia, and consumed by the need to create and to achieve.
  • Operators are the “doers” in any enterprise; they’re the practically-minded folks that get stuff done.
  • Processors have an innate desire to bring order to any situation. They focus not only on what they’ve been asked to do, but also on the underlying systems and processes that will make doing it more consistent and repeatable.
  • The Synergist style brings a primary focus on what is best for the enterprise as a whole, and these leaders choreograph and harmonize team or group interactions to produce high-quality decisions.

Instead of trying to change our styles, we should try to map to other styles where we have deficiencies in the various stages. For instance, we need a very strong Visionary to get out of Early Struggle, to get people on board with the vision, and to lead the charge and be very resilient in order to get out of that stage. With the move through to Fun, the Visionary needs to team up with the strong Operator to push through. But a strong Visionary shouldn’t try to become an Operator; rather, he or she should team up or surround himself or herself with Operators. When hitting Whitewater, this Visionary-Operator team or mix needs to add a Processor (not become one.) The challenge here is to shift to acceptance of this style. And this is the only stage in which leaders should actually try to alter their styles to include more of the Synergist mindset – not to completely change their style, but to bring more of the Synergist into their particular mix of styles.

What are the Most Common Leadership Styles, Strengths, and Weaknesses That You’re Seeing Today?

Each of the four leaderships styles has its own set of strengths and weaknesses



  • Vision
  • Flexibility
  • Courage
  • Simplicity
  • Dispatch


  • Boredom with detail
  • Need for ownership
  • Extremes of commitment
  • Talking to think
  • Lack of structure



  • Prioritizing and capacity
  • Reality check
  • Simplification
  • Transition to action
  • Execution


  • Impatience
  • Shortcuts and workarounds
  • Forgiveness not permission
  • Verbal compliance/active noncompliance



  • Consistency and repeatability
  • Scalability
  • Accuracy
  • Control
  • Clinical perspective


  • Invariable pace
  • Resistance to risk and change
  • Over-analysis
  • Default to no
  • Lagging indicator



  • The Enterprise Commitment
  • Managing group dynamics
  • Persuasive without being manipulative
  • High emotional intelligence


  • Potential for being over-social

Name one Thing That a Leader of a Stagnant Business can do Today to Start Reigniting his or her Organization and Increasing Creativity and/or Risk-taking

They need to start with hiring. The only way to impact change in an organization with a stagnant pool of creativity is to reopen the faucet. If the creative flow is stagnant, trying to do more creative things in the existing culture will be met with resistance. The leader needs to change the makeup of the team and hire people with some Visionary in them to push the boundaries of how and why they do things in the organization. Next is to reward risk-taking by working ways to reward creativity and innovations into your performance assessments.

What Will be the Traits and Qualities of a Successful Executive or Business Leader in the Future?

As the number of ways a leader can be interrupted throughout the day increases, leaders will struggle more and more with the ability to control their own time management and priority management. The rate of change of technology brings with it more ways to be overwhelmed and an increasing amount of stress. When we’re stressed, we turn away from the Synergist mindset and toward our own natural Visionary, Operator, or Processor leadership style. Most busy executives today think they are in control of this workload, but in reality they’re not. They don’t have a good management system. If you’re always digging out of email and running from meeting to meeting, you can never pull your head out of the fray and work on your business.

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