Insight in behaviour: The rose of Leary

One great tool in every change agent box should be the Rose of Leary. The Rose of Leary is not about team roles (like the Belbin model), leadership styles (like situational leadership) or psychological types (I will get into this in a future blog). It is about behaviour in group settings. Your behaviour will vary according to setting, but since you are still unique you you will also have to certain preferences. 

When to use it

When you see teams being less effective than they can be in their behaviour. This may manifest itself in different ways. For instance the team may seem very passive and wait for one or two people to take charge. The people who take charge may feel that they are always doing most of the work. Another instance may be that there are several people striving to get heard and not willing to listen. This may lead to discussions without a conclusion. There are many more examples, but when you see a team devolving into set patterns while also being annoyed by those patterns it is a good time to break out the Rose of Leary. The same applies when there is no irritation, but there is a lack of chemistry, emotion or results.

What is the Rose of Leary

The Rose of Leary

The vertical axis in this model is about your attitude to others. Do you take a leading role (above) or more of a following role (below). Above behaviour is about initiating and leading behaviour. Below behaviour is about submissive behaviour, the individual does not get involved or displays very modest behaviour.

Teamwork is also about finding common goals and actions. This is where the horizontal axis comes in. This is about your relationship with others. Opposed behaviour is about people who do not agree with other people unquestioningly. They want thorough explanations and motivations before they take action. This could develop into defiant behaviour. Together behaviour is when people work together and listen to each other. There is of course still discussion, but it is constructive and people build on each other ideas. 

The central idea behind the Rose of Leary is complementary behaviour. When a group is mostly submissive you may automatically choose more dominant behaviour. How dominant this behaviour gets depends on how what the group allows you. This is directly related to the opposed and together axis. Where the vertical axis triggers complementary behaviour, the horizontal axis triggers more of the same behaviour. So more together behaviour triggers more together behaviour. And opposed behaviour triggers opposed behaviour. 

When teams feel that it is always the same people doing this or that, the Rose may give them insight in how to change their own behaviour. It gives insight in what it is that annoys or does not work well (is it about dominance or opposition?). And gives a team a language to tackle the issues. By analyzing what happened a team will learn and grow understanding and hopefully more effective. 

There is a lot more to this model to help you improve team dynamics. If you want to know more you can visit my longread on the Rose of Leary in the member area


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