Leadership Style

Is your Leadership style working for your team?

It’s interesting that when I ask attendees at our Leadership Masterclass, “who considers themselves a leader?” the usual response is that the people with senior roles in the business put their hands up while others look around the room somewhat uncomfortably at the senior people in the room. I always ask the question again at the end of the session and the response is vastly different.

Leadership is not about position, or hierarchy, or rank, or title, or experience, or being the boss, or being the owner.

Leadership is about influence to maximise the efforts of others, helping them learn and grow. It’s about ensuring those around you improve, feel supported and appreciated. It’s about inspiring higher performance in others so they can be their very best self. Above all, it’s about putting the needs of others ahead of your own!

Are leaders born with some innate ability to lead and inspire? No doubt some are, however the majority of leaders are created. They learn from their own experience, from trial and error, they learn from others who display the leadership skills they seek, by utilising the skills and experience of mentors and coaches. They focus on the behaviours and attitudes that inspire higher performance in those around them.

So how do we do that? I know when I was first thrust into a leadership role, I found it relatively easy to lead some people while I really struggled as a leader with others. I realised it’s not a case of one-size fits all. We must get to know our people so we can lead in a way that they need, not in a way that we are most comfortable with.

I learnt that there are various ways to lead, various leadership styles and that we need to utilise the leadership style that is appropriate to the situation and the people involved. 

You can do a google search and find a multitude of posts and blogs that talk about leadership styles, many of which are variants of the same core group. The primary leadership styles as I see it are:

  1. Laissez-Faire: this is the hands-off approach; the team has free rein. This can work well with a highly experienced and self-managed team. Be careful being the Laissez-Faire leader as it can lead to disaster if the team or individuals are not fully self-sufficient and self-motivated.
  2. Autocratic: the old authoritarian management approach – tell them what to do, tell them how to do it, and make damn sure they do it. The boss gives the orders around here! Whilst this style is used less frequently in the modern workplace, it’s still required in places like an Emergency Room where it’s important that someone takes charge to coordinate a response to a crisis.
  3. Democratic: A great way to gain support across the team or business. Everyone gets involved in the decision-making process with the aim of achieving consensus and buy in from everyone.
  4. Transactional: It’s all about the task, ensuring they know what is required by when, checking on progress and completion.
  5. Transformational: works on coaching and developing the skills of your people. Asks lots of questions, encourages lateral thinking and self-confidence, recognises improvement and achievement.

So which style if best? They can all be effective. The most successful leaders know when to use each style, in what situation and with which people. The best leaders will often utilise multiple styles simultaneously to gain the best results for their teams, depending on the make-up of the individuals in the team and how they respond.

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