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The CIP model of leadership

Author: Dr Simon Moss


According to the CIP model of leadership, during crises, one of three approaches can be adopted to demonstrate outstanding leadership: charismatic, ideological, or pragmatic. In short, charismatic leaders impart an inspiring vision of the future. Ideological leaders apply a specific ideology--or set of principles--to overcome past injustices or problems. Finally, pragmatic leaders use any tactics or principles that are necessary to resolve existing issues.

The utility of each leadership style depends on the context. Charismatic leaders are especially effective when the implications of their decisions can be predicted accurately, because the organization or environment is relatively simple. Ideological leaders are particularly effective when the consequences of their decisions cannot be predicted accurately, because the organization or environment is complex and multifaceted.

Evolution of the CIP model of leadership

The CIP model of leadership emanated from the work of Weber (1921), who differentiated these charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic leaders. This model was then championed by Mumford (2006& Bedell-Avers, Hunter, & Mumford, 2008& Ligon, Hunter, & Mumford, 2008& Strange & Mumford, 2006) to circumvent some key limitations in the prevailing models of outstanding leadership.

Specifically, in the previous decade or so, the popularity of transformational leadership has endorsed the importance of charismatic leadership (see Charismatic leadership). That is, many authors have emphasized that outstanding leaders often present inspiring depictions of the future to engage and motivate their followers.

Nevertheless, many researchers have challenged this emphasis on charismatic leaders. First, many outstanding leaders do not seem to demonstrate the hallmarks of charisma. Benjamin Franklin, for example, did not promulgate an inspiring vision, but primarily focussed on solving problems pragmatically (Mumford & Van Doorn, 2001). Collins (2001) also discovered that great business leaders were more pragmatic than charismatic. These pragmatic leaders have been shown to be especially effective in uncertain, ambiguous contexts (see Pasternack & O'Toole, 2002).

Dimensions that differentiate charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic leaders

The three styles of outstanding leadership differ on the mental models they apply to make sense in response to crises. That is, in response to crises, leaders need to engage in a process of sensemaking to support their followers. That is, they need to interpret the crisis, which might include retrenchments, injuries, or other fundamental changes. In addition, they need to offer direction and comfort during these stressful, ambiguous times. The aim of this sensemaking process is to instil a sense of control and enhance motivation as well as productivity.

The prescriptive mental models that leaders apply--that is, the goals they would like to achieve and the actions they feel will facilitate the pursuit of these objectives--differs across these styles. Several factors differentiate charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic leaders.

First, the temporal orientation of these models differ across leaders. Charismatic leaders emphasize the future goals and aspirations they would like the workgroup or organization to pursue. Ideological leaders, in contrast, orient attention towards past injustices or problems that need to be overcome. Pragmatic leaders focus on ongoing issues that need to be solved, rather than future goals or past injustices. In complex settings, with many uncertain complications and impediments, the future is difficult to predict. Accordingly, charismatic leaders, with their emphasis on the future, are not as effective in these settings. Ideological leaders, with their emphasis on the past, flourish however.

Second, the valence of experiences that are highlighted varies across these styles of leadership. Charismatic leaders depict a positive sequence of experiences they would like followers to pursue. The "I have a dream" speech, presented by Martin Luther King, epitomizes this positive depiction of the future. Ideological leaders allude to negative events in the past that need to be redressed. Finally, pragmatic leaders to both negative issues and positive opportunities.

Third, the number of objectives or outcomes that leaders seek also varies across these three styles. Charismatic leaders usually allude to many possible outcomes that could unfold& they emphasize all the benefits and gains their vision and direction could elicit. This emphasis on multiple goals can also provoke difficulties in prioritizing these objectives--especially in unpredictable, ambiguous, and complex settings, Ideological leaders, however, refer to fewer outcomes--which primarily revolve around transcending a past challenge or difficulty. Pragmatic leaders can focus on many or few outcomes, depending on the nature of any existing issues. Their approach, in this sense, is more flexible.

Fourth, the source of these mental models differs across charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic leaders. For charismatic--and also for pragmatic--leaders, many insights into which goals to pursue and how to achieve these objectives are derived from information and trends that unfold outside the individual, workgroup, or organization. For ideological leaders, in contrast, many decisions and insights emerge from a reflection upon their personal beliefs.

Evidence of these dimension

Hunter, Cushenbery, Thoroughgood, Johnson, and Ligon (2011) conducted a historiometric investigation, examining 66 American football coaches to control the effect of industry. To ascertain the leadership style of these coaches, book chapters that described how these people interacted with players and depicted their philosophy to leadership or coaching were scrutinized by four graduate students in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Specifically, they rated these excerpts on 10 factors that may differentiate charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic leaders, such as time frame. For example, they considered whether or not the leader focused on the future, the present, or the past. Furthermore, other raters were merely asked to classify leaders into these three categories, derived from definitions of each style.

Finally, analyses were conducted to ascertain whether the 10 factors differ across the three styles. Some important insights were uncovered, all consistent with the CIP model. Charismatic leaders focused on more positive experiences than did ideological leaders. Charismatic leaders assumed the people were the primary cause of outcomes, whereas ideological leaders assumed the situation is primarily responsible. Nevertheless, charismatic leaders, relative to ideological leaders, assumed the situation is controllable. On most of these factors, pragmatic leaders were more flexible. Charismatic leaders also tended to refer to positive emotions, whereas ideological leaders tended to refer to negative emotions& pragmatic leaders tended to allude to rational, logical arguments.

Consequences of charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic leaders

Complexity and context

A few studies have examined the utility of charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic leaders in various contexts. Hunter, Bedell-Avers, and Mumford (2009), for instance, showed the utility of each style depends on the complexity of a context and the demands of a situation. To illustrate, in their study, participants completed a simulation in which they were assigned the role of a university chancellor. They need to reach many decisions, such as who to hire and how to allocate funds to various departments.

Some of the participants were assigned to a condition in which the context was complex. The university comprised many departments and the number of students was enormous. Many random events also affected outcomes of decisions. The implications of decisions could not be predicted with precision. In contrast, some of the participants were assigned to a condition in which the context was simple. The number of departments, students, and random fluctuations were all limited.

In addition to complexity, the problem was framed as either charismatic, ideological, or pragmatic. Charismatic framing represented a focus on the multiple outcomes in the future. Participants were told to "achieve a brighter future" and for their vision to "allow for success in other areas as well. Ideological framing represented as focus on applying principles to redress past problems. Participants were instructed, for example to focus on "past mistakes" and develop strategies "based on your beliefs and values". Pragmatic framing represented a focus on the existing problem, reflecting on both positive and negative experiences in the past. Participants were told to solve "the research problem at hand" and "draw on your previous experiences, both good and bad".

To measure task performance, the capacity of participants to improve the research productivity of the university was assessed--which could be achieved by reducing teaching loads, increasing funding to productive departments, hiring suitable expertise, and so forth. In addition, performance of the university in other domains, such as prestige, education, diversity, and other factors was assessed as well.

The results were complex, but a few key findings emerged. First, when the context was simple, charismatic leaders performed well when the situation was framed as charismatic--as focusing on the future. Nevertheless, when the context was complex, these leaders performed well only when the situation was framed as pragmatic. Presumably, a pronounced focus on inspiring depictions of the future--likely when charismatic leaders operate in a situation that was framed as charismatic--is effective only when context is simple. When the context is complex and ambiguous, the principles and practices that need to be applied to fulfill this vision are uncertain, and progress might be stifled (cf., Gray, 2002& Pasternack & O'Toole, 2002).

In contrast, Bedell-Avers, Hunter, and Mumford (2008) showed that charismatic leaders prefer contexts that are unstructured--in which the policies, procedures, and rules are ambiguous. Nevertheless, this preference was observed only in tasks that revolve around social problems rather than cognitive tasks. Conveivably, in complex environments, the emphasis of these leaders on the future might be suitable to social, but not cognitive, issues.

Second, ideological leaders performed effectively when the context was complex--provided the problem was framed pragmatically. Their standard set of principles might afford these leaders with a sense of clarity in complex scenarios, when ambiguity and uncertainty is pervasive (Hunter, Bedell-Avers, & Mumford, 2009).

Nevertheless, these ideological leaders did not perform effectively, however, when the situation was framed ideologically. Presumably, in these contexts, ideological leaders could rely almost exclusively on their ideologies, which could have evoked rigidity. Indeed, in this condition, judges rated their solutions as uncreative and unoriginal. In short, ideological leaders were sometimes the most effective, and sometimes the least effective, depending on the condition (Hunter, Bedell-Avers, & Mumford, 2009). They tend to be most effective when assigned an official leadership role Bedell-Avers, Hunter, & Mumford, 2008).

Finally, the performance of pragmatic leaders did not depend substantially on the complexity of these tasks (Hunter, Bedell-Avers, & Mumford, 2009& for similar findings, see Bedell-Avers, Hunter, & Mumford, 2008). These leaders merely focus on the immediate problem, and thus might be less sensitive to complexities in the environment.

Nevertheless, their performance did flourish when the framing was ideological. The ideological framing, which focused on the past, might have orientated the attention of these leaders to the task itself--an orientation in which they flourish.

Determinants of charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic leaders

The incidence of charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic leaders varies across industries and contexts. Charismatic leaders are especially prevalent in the political arena. In this arena, leaders often feel compelled to depict a positive vision of the future. Ideological leaders are rife in industries that attempt to improve social justice. Finally, pragmatic leaders are more common in the business domain, in which specific, isolated problems often need to be solved in lieu of global, social issues.

Measures of charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic leaders

Bedell-Avers, Hunter, and Mumford (2008) developed a questionnaire that can be utilized to assess whether individuals are more inclined to assume the role of a charismatic, ideological, or pragmatic leader. To develop this measures, Bedell-Avers, Hunter, and Mumford (2008) distilled a series of behavioral incidents from biographies of historical leaders. These leaders, and hence the corresponding behavioral incidents, were classified as charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic by a panel of psychologists. The incidents corresponded a range of problems, such as managing change, encouraging contributions, coordinating activities, and individual development. Only incidents that preserved the anonymity of leaders were included.

The questionnaire comprises 12 scenarios, such as managing change. For each scenario, three alternative behavioral incidents are presented--one corresponding to each of the leadership styles. Participants specify which of these incidents most closely resembles the response or behavior they would demonstrate in this situation.

Participants who do not select one style significantly more frequently than either of the other styles are assumed to be undifferentiated. They do not show an obvious preference. Other participants are assigned to the style they choose most frequently. Split half reliability is .72, .79. and .84 for charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic leaders respectively, as shown by Hunter, Bedell-Avers, and Mumford (2009).


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Last Update: 6/28/2016