Tom Peters shares the following anecdote in the book he coauthored, In Search of Excellence.
[Stanford's Harold Leavitt] view’s the managing process as an interactive flow of three variables: pathfinding, decision making, and implementation.
For example, a typical class would suggest President John Kennedy as a pathfinder. For the decision-making stereotype, they might pick Robert McNamara in his role of Secretary of Defense or Jimmy Carter as President. For the prototypical implementer, everyone thinks of Lyndon Johnson.
To add understanding, Leavitt has his class associate various occupations with his three categories. People who fall into the decision-making category include systems analysts, engineers, MBAs, statisticians, and professional managers… Implementing occupations would be those in which people essentially get their kicks from working with other people — psychologists, salesmen, teachers, social workers, and most Japanese managers. Finally, in the pathfinding category we find poets, artists, entrepreneurs…
There are countless frameworks for understanding the fuzzy characteristics of people and leaders, and Leavitt presents only one model, though it is quite useful. I would guess that even the field of flight test has all three kinds of people.
This story presents one such way to describe human personality and behavior. In some sense, we are summarizing an incredibly complex field with this single descriptor.
That’s what statistics does: It summarizes data with a single descriptor.
No one can be completely described, categorized, or analyzed in these three types of leadership. But then few of us expect this leadership model to do that. Neither should we expect statistics, or any analytical tool of mathematics and statistics, to do something we never intended it to do.
Life is a journey. And these are observations from ours.