Pacesetting Leadership: What Is It? Case Studies, Arguments, and More

Pacesetting Leadership


We recently delved deeply into Daniel Goleman’s six leadership philosophies in a piece. Contrary to popular belief, every person doesn’t necessarily have a single, permanent leadership style.

Contrary to common assumptions, you may develop your leadership qualities through time rather than having to be born with them. Goleman claims that the most outstanding leaders can quickly switch between several leadership philosophies depending on the situation.

We want to focus on the pacesetting leadership style this week. This kind of leadership may produce outstanding outcomes in certain circumstances. However, it could make people resentful of you and make your team burn out.

Because of this, it’s crucial to comprehend what it means to be a pacesetter and when this leadership style should be used.

Pacesetting Leadership: What Is It?

Pacesetting is a leadership approach in which team members are held to high standards and expectations. As implied by the term, the leader sets the pace for their group or organization by advocating a strategy that may be summed up as “Do as I do, now.”

These leaders do their tasks with the most incredible levels of effectiveness, efficiency, and quality. The pacesetting leader is expected to set an excellent example for the team. Any of Daniel Goleman’s leadership philosophies depend on underlying emotional intelligence skills. These include initiative, conscientiousness, and the will to succeed in pacesetting leadership.

This kind of leadership is results-oriented, which means the leader anticipates that the team will accomplish all goals and adhere to all deadlines. At the same time, the leader avoids giving workers assignments they are ill-equipped to handle.

As you would expect, this leadership style may have great benefits and significant drawbacks. Pacesetting leadership needs a highly trained manager and team to function at its best. The corporate culture must be focused on continuous improvement at the same time. This method produces the quickest outcomes from a staff that is highly skilled and motivated.

However, Goleman asserts that using this leadership approach often has a net negative effect on the environment at work.

It’s important to note that Daniel Goleman believes that the most exemplary leaders are skilled in various leadership philosophies and have the adaptability to switch between them as needed. Except in rare circumstances, practicing pacesetting leadership exclusively without using other leadership styles would probably result in bad results.

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What Constitutes Pacesetting Leadership’s Required Components?

This leadership style calls for the leader to “set the pace” of the team’s work, as the name “pacesetting” suggests. In a running competition, a pacesetter will take the lead during the opening portion of a middle- or long-distance race to establish a rapid tempo and guarantee that the top competitors record the quickest timings. Additionally, it lessens the likelihood that the race will develop into a drawn-out tactical exercise.

The pacesetter performs a very similar function in the workplace. Set an example to demonstrate the efficiency, excellence, and performance you demand from your staff. To better comprehend pacesetting leadership, let’s examine the individual components that go into it.

Setting the pace for initiative-taking

Pacesetting leaders demonstrate to their team what it means to take the initiative and be the first to act. These leaders have high expectations and work hard to meet them. They also want the same for their team at the same time.

Expectations that are Communicated

To achieve a goal, pacesetting leadership doesn’t include the leader micromanaging every single detail. Instead, they established the performance standard and left it to their team to fulfill their obligation. Precise requirements must be provided as part of this.

Clear Expectations Communication

Every project must begin with expectations and criteria that are well understood. Despite this, they aren’t guiding how to handle every little detail that arises while working toward the objective. The team should be able to determine how to create the appropriate output without frequent direct supervision after the pacesetting leader has laid out the criteria.

Self-Driven Self-Driven Leader

A leader must possess a strong sense of self-motivation to succeed while adopting the pacesetting leadership style. They have a deep-seated drive to succeed. They hold to the same high standards that they hold their team to.

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Leading by example

Leading by example is one of the most crucial components of becoming a pacesetter. Management sets the bar for their employees at the same level if they are inattentive, taking shortcuts, and missing deadlines. While this leadership approach has drawbacks, if the leader doesn’t demonstrate their expectations for job performance via their behaviors, it simply won’t function.

What Benefits and Drawbacks Does Pacesetting Leadership Offer?

High positives and high drawbacks characterize this leadership style. It may lead to outstanding achievements but can also negatively impact business culture. Ultimately, this leadership approach should be utilized sparingly and in combination with other approaches. Otherwise, creating a long-lasting and healthy working atmosphere for the whole team is challenging.


A pacesetting leadership approach may be suitable for the correct group of people or situations. For instance, it may be the ideal strategy when your team must finish a significant project rapidly or meet a pressing deadline.

Enables your team to accomplish business objectives efficiently

Pacesetting leadership may help a business achieve its short-term, time-sensitive objectives. This approach, which emphasizes high-quality production and the highest standards, may provide the pressure you need to meet your objectives on schedule and with the most excellent possible efficiency without lowering the standard of quality.

You Can Address Problems Addressing Team Issues Right Away

While not micromanaging, the pacesetting leadership ensures that critical checkpoints are reached along the road. This ensures that any problems are brought up and discussed immediately, where they can be rapidly corrected.

Enables your highly qualified team to excel

As already said, this leadership approach functions best when a highly competent and experienced team is involved. They can do their portion of the assignment without much supervision since they are confident in their talents.

Your elite team will have the chance to excel when you take this kind of leadership stance. To best position your company for success in the future, it may also assist you in determining each team member’s skills.

Growing and Developing as a Team

In the best-case scenario, pacesetting leadership enables your team to go outside their comfort zones, pick up new valuable abilities, and enhance their overall job performance. Setting the pace for your team may assist your business, and each team member reaches new heights when done correctly and utilized in the appropriate situation.


The pacesetting leadership style may adversely affect your business if you don’t employ it wisely. Let’s discuss the drawbacks of setting the pace for your team to ensure you are aware of the dangers and possible rewards.

It Might Lead to Resentment

Setting such a high standard for perfection has the potential to backfire when done improperly or excessively. A pacesetting leader could swiftly take over a job at the first hint of hesitation, lack of confidence, or incompetence, which might cause hatred among your team. Employees often experience a sense of overload due to this leadership style.

It Can Decrease Trust Decreased Team Trust

When supervisors have high expectations, employees may lose faith and confidence in their job. They could begin to doubt their work and worry about the repercussions if it doesn’t live up to the standards established by the pacesetting leader. Team members could feel they cannot voice their concerns, ask questions, or admit to weaknesses.

It could result in stress and exhaustion.

One of its main issues is that your whole team may experience burnout due to your pacesetting leadership style. Working for a boss that leads in this manner may be very difficult. To keep up with their management, employees could lose sight of their work-life balance, and failing to live up to the leader’s high standards can result in poor self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy.

A burnt-out and overworked employee

Naturally, this might negatively impact the workplace culture. Additionally, staff burnout may severely influence the company’s finances, client happiness, productivity, and the quality of the job performed. Additionally, it causes increased absenteeism and staff turnover.

It may result in decreased employee engagement.

When pacesetting leadership is practiced incorrectly, it may also have a detrimental effect on staff engagement. You’ll probably discover that morale and engagement are poor when your team feels they must run as quickly as possible to remain in the same spot. Such a hectic, high-stress setting may prevent any effort from being put forward to boost relationships or team spirit.

It may reduce innovation, make work more repetitive, and disgruntled workers

It costs money to establish a culture where everything is results-driven. It not only can make your workers unhappy because of how repetitive and tedious their job is, but it also can harm your business’s overall performance. You’ll discover that there isn’t any time or mental space left over for creativity or invention if you are continuously 100% focused on outcomes.

Only the right team of employees can make it work

This leadership approach will probably backfire and result in significant employee turnover if you start with a team that cannot keep up with your established pace.

Pacesetting Leadership Examples

The most well-known example of a leader who sets the pace is Jack Welch, who served as the CEO of GE from 1981 to 2001. He made General Electric a highly productive and demanding place to work. He was among the innovators of forced ranking, for instance, when he fired the poorest 10% of the company’s performance yearly and honored the top 20%.

James Cameron, a director, and Virat Kohli, the captain of the Indian cricket team, are two other well-known figures who have been credited with using this approach.

When is it appropriate to use a pacesetting leadership style?

This leadership style works well when you have a highly driven and talented team from whom you want immediate results. Your team must be ready for the expectations you will place on them for this leadership style to be successful.

Making use of a pacesetting leadership style

Pacesetting leadership is ineffective as a long-term leadership style since it may result in fatigue and other problems with business culture. However, it may be precisely what the circumstance calls for in the correct environment (think short-term, high-demand initiatives). The manager must actively set the team’s pace and support them as they race to the finish line for this leadership style to be effective.

What Kind of Leader Are You?

Knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses is one of the first and most crucial elements in developing one’s leadership abilities. With this level of self-awareness, leaders may more easily identify their abilities and those that still need development to be the most successful leaders.

We designed What’s My Leadership Style for this reason. By analyzing behavioral patterns based on expressiveness and assertiveness, this management development tool, training session, and style assessment are mainly created to assist you in understanding your leadership preferences.

Are you concerned about pacesetting leadership or doubts about its viability in your organization? If so, feel free to do so in the comment section below, and we’ll respond to you within a day or two. We make it a point to respond to every remark and inquiry we get, and we’d be pleased to help you in any way we can!

By 12disruptors Admin

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