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How to Be an Effective Pacesetting Leader In 2024

Daniel Goleman first introduced pacesetting leadership along with the six leadership ideologies outlined in his theory of emotional intelligence. Although there have been situations where this approach has been successful, it is still important to employ it with caution. “Do as I do, now” is the phrase that sums up the working attitude of pacesetting leaders. This is due to the fact that this leadership style entails a drive to complete tasks and produce desired outcomes efficiently and effectively. 

What is Pacesetting Leadership?

Pacesetting leadership is a style of leadership where a leader sets the bar for high pace, high performance, and high quality. Pacesetting is a results-driven leadership approach that calls on team members to meet the benchmark established for them. It strongly emphasizes individual accountability, so each team member must meet all their deadlines and work quality. Sometimes, it may have an adverse effect on the engagement and motivation of employees in the long term.

The Essence of Pacesetting Leadership

In his theory of emotional intelligence, Goleman has provided examples of the pacesetting leadership style. The use of a pacesetting leadership style happens when a team is extremely skilled and motivated. The team can find the high standards to be both exciting and challenging at the same time.

A team may become exhausted and demotivated to keep going if previously achieved goals still demand improvement. In some cases, a pacesetter leadership style is thought to ruin the culture of the organization. The pacesetter’s high standards for perfection are overwhelming and a burden to many staff, which lowers their morale.

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Elements of Pacesetting Leadership

In a running competition, a pacesetter leader will take the lead by setting high records. The following are the necessary elements of pacesetting leadership: 

1) Pacesetting Leaders Take Initiative

Pacesetting leaders show their group what it means to be the first to act and to take the initiative. These leaders strive to live up to their high standards. At the same time, they also want the same for their team.

2) Pacesetting Leaders Are Self- Motivated

Pacesetting leaders are self-motivated in order to succeed in the high pace and high-work-quality environments. They have the same high expectations for themselves as they have for their team.

Pacesetting Leaders Are Self- Motivated

3) Pacesetting Leaders Are Not Micromanagers

Pacesetting leadership avoids micromanaging to achieve objectives.  Instead, they create a defined standard of performance and left it to the employees to fulfill their requirements. Clear requirements must be provided as part of pacesetting leadership. 

Every project must begin with requirements and criteria that are completely understood. Pacesetting leaders do not provide direction on how to handle situations that arise while working toward the objective. The team should be determined to create the appropriate output without frequent direct supervision once the pacesetting leader has laid out the requirements.

4) Pacesetting Leaders Lead By Example

Leading by example is an important element of the pacesetting leadership style. Leaders set the standards for their employees at the same level if they are consistently inattentive, taking shortcuts, and missing deadlines. While this leadership style as a whole has drawbacks, if the leader does not show their work performance through their own actions of how it has to be, it simply won’t function. So, a leader has to be more attentive and motivated to get tasks done in the best possible ways.

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Advantages of Pacesetting Leadership

Pacesetting leadership can be appropriate for the perfect group of people or situations. It is the ideal strategy, for instance, when a team must complete a significant project rapidly or meet a demanded deadline. The following are the advantages of pacesetting leadership:

1) Meeting Deadlines Quickly

One of the main advantages is short-term goals can be achieved quickly as a result of pacesetting leadership because it places such a strong emphasis on performance and meeting standards. When the goals are urgent or otherwise time-sensitive, this leadership style can be extremely useful. For example;  pacesetting leadership can be used by a company that is working to ensure the completion of its product in time for the holiday shopping season.

2) Clear Expectations

Under pacesetting leadership, the team can more clearly know what to expect when the leader sets the pace. The pacesetting leadership style can encourage employees to work toward more concrete and understandable quality standards because it increases the likelihood that they are aware of their important progress indicators. Clear expectations can also lessen misunderstandings and potential disputes in certain initiatives.

3) Leveraging of Strengths

The capacity of the leader to capitalize on the strengths of their team is crucial to the success of the implementation of the pacesetting leadership style. The leader of the team tries to allocate assignments that fit the skill set of each member. Giving workers challenging but realistic work helps keep them motivated and helps them consistently do their jobs in a better way.

4)  Inspires Others to Achieve Peak Performance

A leader who emits energy and motivation can inspire their team to push themselves and discover their true potential. Putting their abilities to the test can increase their self-confidence and respect for coworkers.

5) Provide Freedom to Motivated Teams

The pacesetting style of leadership benefits when the team is capable and motivated. This is precisely the kind of team that does not require someone to be continuously monitoring their back or evaluating the integrity of their work. The talent of the team is respected by the leader, who is aware of their accountability.

6) Personal Development of Employees

In the best-case scenario, pacesetting leadership enables the team to go outside their comfort zones, pick up new useful abilities, and enhance their overall work performance. Setting the pace for the team can assist the organization and each team member reach new heights of personal development as well. 

Personal Development of Employees

Disadvantages of Pacesetting Leadership

The pacesetting leadership style can have extremely negative effects on your organization if it has not been employed carefully. To make sure of the risks and potential benefits, the following are the disadvantages of setting the pace for your team.

1) Lead to Resentment

Raising such a high standard for perfection has the potential to backfire when the task has not been done properly. A pacesetting leader can swiftly take over a task at the first indication of hesitation, lack of confidence or inadequacy can cause hostility among the team members. Employees frequently experience a sense of exhaustion as a result of this leadership style.

2) Lead to Burnout and Stress

One of the major disadvantages of pacesetting leadership is that the entire team can experience burnout and stress. To keep up with their high-standard leadership, employees can lose their work-life balance, and failing to live up to the leader’s high standards can result in low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy.

3) It Only Works With Highly Motivated Team

The pacesetting leadership approach will probably not work and result in high employee turnover if the team you are working with needs more ability to keep up with your set pace. As pacesetting leadership only works with the right team which is highly motivated and can work in the high pace environment. 

4) Reduces Trust

Employees can lose faith and confidence in their job when supervisors have incredibly high expectations of them. They can begin to doubt their work and worry about the consequences if it does not live up to the standards set by the pacesetting leader. This can lead to team members thinking that they need help to voice their concerns, ask questions, or admit to having weaknesses.

5) Reduces Engagement of Employees

When pacesetting leadership is practiced incorrectly, it can also have a damaging effect on employee engagement. The morale and engagement get low when the team feels like they have to run as quickly as they can to stay in the same spot. Such a hectic, high-stress setting can prevent any effort from being put forth to boost relationships or team morale.

6) Limits Innovation and Demands Repetition

It costs money to establish a culture where everything is results-driven. Pacesetting leadership not only has the potential to make employees unhappy because of how repetitive and monotonous their work is, but it also has the potential to harm the business’s overall success.  There is not any time or mental space left over for creativity or invention if you are continuously focused on results.

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When to Use Pacesetting Leadership

The pacesetting leadership style is used when the team is highly driven and skilled which can provide immediate results. The team must be ready for the demands that are placed on them for this leadership style to be successful. Pacesetting leadership is ineffective in the long term since it can result in fatigue and other problems with business culture. 

Nonetheless, it can be according to the circumstances call for in the correct environment (think short-term, high-demand initiatives). The leader must actively set the pace of the team and support them to make this leadership style effective.

How to Implement Pacesetting Leadership

There are many ways to implement pacesetting leadership efficiently and successfully. Some of them are as follows;

1) Use in Conjunction With Other Leadership Philosophies

When pacesetting is utilized in conjunction with other leadership philosophies, it will be most effective. Spend some time learning about additional leadership philosophies. Goleman states striking a balance between all six of his leadership philosophies; authoritative, democratic, coercive, affiliative, coaching, and pacesetting leaders calls for a certain amount of adaptability to change tactics when necessary.

2) Provide Training and Development Opportunities

Allowing workers to acquire new talents and learn outside predetermined timeframes will boost their confidence. It is essential to have a place where people can learn and ask questions for the betterment of the team. Providing employees with opportunities to develop will also encourage greater devotion to the company.

3) Provide Feedback and Performance Review

All of the employees should have a clear understanding of the expectations of leaders. Setting team members up for future success can be done by providing feedback and performing performance reviews. Ask your staff how they are doing and follow up with them. An ounce of compassion may go a long way.

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Learn Pacesetting Leadership with Best Diplomats

Among all the approaches of leadership, pacesetting leadership provides high standards and quality if it has dealt with properly. Pacesetting leadership allows for achieving the best possible outcomes in the shortest time. Best Diplomats is producing the best leaders with high-standard leadership skills. You can learn the best styles of leadership with the Best Diplomats.

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Pacesetting leadership provides opportunities for leaders to develop their technical or professional competence. The leader can set an example and act in a way that he can be followed by others. A team leader must give instructions on how to manage a situation when a team member needs support. All potential barriers must be identified, along with solutions for how to get through them. While reflecting on how it feels to lead a task alone, a leader should refrain from using the pacesetting style of leadership.


What are the traits of the pacesetting leadership style?

The pacesetting leader sets high expectations for both themselves and his team members. Expecting quality performance from their team members with minimal management and prioritizing results beyond any other concern are some defining traits of the pacesetting leadership style.

Is pacesetting leadership important?

Pacesetters are important in life because they encourage those around them to improve without going too far to the point of giving up. They can assist individuals in doing things that seem impossible by learning to be a leader on their team, at home, and at school to set the standard for excellence.

Is pacesetting leadership possible in all situations?

No, it only works best with the right and highly motivated team in a high pace environment. Democratic leadership is the one who works in all situations.

What is an example of pacesetting leadership in school? 

In schools, school principals are an example of a pacesetting leadership style. Principals use this style by setting goals and objectives and providing schedules and planners to teachers which each of them has to follow to maintain the code of conduct of schools. 

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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