Welcome to this weekly online resource. Executive coach and wellness professional Jo Foster, offers thought provoking insights on positive psychology, mindfulness and self care. As well as access to her weekly online yoga classes and nutritious recipe recommendations. 

This week we are continuing to look at the psychology of leadership. 

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“Flexibility in a stem makes a tree stand in storm. Flexibility in behavior makes a human win hearts"


Daniel Goleman, leadership psychologist and author of numerous books on emotional intelligence, advocates the art of leadership as being akin to choosing the right golf club. He argues that using our emotional intelligence to read the "landscape" and select the "right club", enables leaders to "play the game" with good results. It sounds so simple! 

The above table (by Daniel Goleman) summarises differing leadership styles and when they are best suited. The greatest leaders will in theory have the ability to move between multiple styles. Take a moment to consider:

  1. What styles can you recognise in yourself? 

  2. What styles best suit your team?

  3. What styles best suit your organisation?

  4. Can you think of a past scenario where a different style could have been better suited? 

Deciding which style is "best suited" is complicated. Strong strategic acumen to develop the appropriate and clear vision is important, but ultimately success rides on the ability to use emotional intelligence to appreciate and influence the degree of human motivation within the 'team'. 


There are many ways to express the different elements of human motivation. The most well known is probably Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, the gist of this is that the "basic needs" must be met before a leader will be able to affectively motivate an individual towards a common goal. Motivation as a part of a group or team, occurs when psychological and self-fulfilment needs are being addressed. 

I believe that to affectively motivate an individual you need a good understanding of what drives them. A “Driver” is an important concept in Transactional Analysis. It identifies that during childhood, each of us grew up surrounded by verbal and non-verbal messages from family, teachers and others who were a strong influence. The messages often stem from our parents / influencers own unresolved childhood issues. In order to feel that we belong, as a children we developed rules and behaviours that enabled us to adapt and function within the belief framework of others. We manifest "I'm ok if"... I behave in a certain, approved way. These beliefs and behaviours often stay with us into adulthood and become adopted as our own.  

The key Drivers are:

  1. Be perfect

  2. Be strong

  3. Try hard

  4. Hurry up

  5. Please others


Sri Lankan Dal With Coconut and Lime Kale

By Meera Sodha

Lentils, lentils, good for your heart, lentils, lentils they make you....

more energised due to being full of iron and vitamin B1,which helps maintain a steady heartbeat!

This recipe is rich in fibre, folate and potassium making them a great choice for the heart and for managing blood pressure and cholesterol. 

Each of us will be driven to an extend by all of these behaviours, but often one or two will dominate. Our Drivers can be both a positive and obstructive influence on our ambitions, feelings and behaviours. For anyone in a position of leadership understanding the "Drivers" at play in your team and with colleagues can enable you to identify what leadership style might be best suited and can even help determine how to adjust roles and responsibilities to leverage the inherent strengths that the "drivers" give us. More on this in my next instalment!