It isn't easy to gain a complete picture of the choices involved in the forceful versus enabling dilemma. There is an ingrained tradition among both practitioners and students of management of taking a partial view. This tradition needs to be replaced with a new perspective.

Rejecting the Extremes

In my work with executives at CCL and, subsequently, in my consulting practice, I have found that when leaders make the distinction between being forceful and enabling, there is a strong tendency for them to place one approach at a disadvantage. This tendency has a long history. Let me give two examples.

Consider Theory X and Theory Y, conceptualized by Douglas McGregor in his 1960 book The Human Side of Enterprise. This dichotomy has captured ...

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