Watch “American Idol” for only 10 minutes and you’ll understand what makes the three judges tick. Each owns a classic leadership style with its own strengths and weaknesses. Here’s what we mean:
The despot. Brutally frank Simon Cowell says exactly what he thinks, with no regard to how it makes contestants feel. Since he criticizes with caustic words such as “dreadful” and “horrible” so often, people are astonished when he finally offers praise. He rarely tells contestants how to improve, preferring to destroy them by saying they are terrible and will never have musical careers.
The softie. Kind and gentle Paula Abdul always finds something positive to say. She strives to help people grow. They love her because she often overlooks glaring faults and, even when offering criticism, she points to unfortunate choices or something beyond their control.
The balanced evaluator. Middle-of-the-roader Randy Jackson fits neatly between Cowell and Abdul, but he’s still his own man. He builds rapport with the performers (calling them “Dog” or “Dude”), offers specific criticism (“You went off pitch that time”) and provides context (“That was miles better than last week”). He also talks about his emotions by saying “That was good for me” or “Something about that failed to get me excited.”
The winner: Jackson has a highly developed right brain/left brain leadership style that would make him a fine addition to any executive team. A Randy Jackson-type leadership style is a good goal to shoot for: reality-based, communicative, yet empathetic.
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