What is Your Leadership Style?
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach
Think of the leaders you have known or read about in your life. Did they have anything in common? Did they share traits that you admired? Have you considered what those traits might say about your leadership style?
Whether you are aware of it or not, you are a leader, or you can become one.
Some people are "reluctant" leaders. They have leadership qualities that others see in them that they can't see for themselves.
And then, there are the wanna-be leaders. They are the folks who fancy themselves as leaders whether they have any knack or skill for it or not. Sometimes they aspire to become a leader because they want power or authority over others. These are not my favorite people. But if they mean well, they too can learn how to become an effective leader.
Anyone can learn how to lead.
You aren't necessarily born a leader, although some people do have natural tendencies in that direction. They have a charisma that attracts others to them. Or they have an air of humility that others find attractive and make them someone people want to get to know.
History is filled with leaders of all kinds. Some were great. Some, well, not so much. But I bet you would like to think that you could be a great leader in your family, your community, or your company.
The first step toward becoming a great leader is to become self-aware.
Did you know, for example, that there are different styles of leadership? Are you aware of your leadership style?
If not, keep reading. You will find these characteristics interesting. And I guarantee you will recognize yourself or someone else in these descriptions.
1. Autocratic Leadership
Autocratic leadership is a dictator-style of leadership. It may be the least popular leadership style. Employees don’t feel valued when no one has consulted them about important decisions. And eventually, they may begin to resent an autocratic leader.
There are occasions when you may need to use this style. Let's say you're working on a project with strict deadlines. There is simply no time to waste. Sometimes brainstorming and talking through every single option can be a deadline buster. I wouldn't recommend that you aspire to be an autocratic leader. But sometimes, employing an autocratic method is necessary.
2. Democratic Leadership
This is the most successful form of leadership style. The democratic leader involves their employees when making important decisions. They may still need to make the final call, but they value the opinions of their employees. And fair treatment is provided for everyone. This leadership style works at all times, so serious leaders should adapt to this kind of approach as frequently as they can.
3. Strategic Leadership
A strategic leader is not necessarily the head of the organization. Instead, a strategic leader is a lower-level employee who takes initiative periodically. She may decide to create a high-performing team. They work on a problem or issue and work out a solution.
This method works in some instances for some people, but there is a caution. Bias is inherent in the process. The people who are close to the strategic leader naturally get to be part of the core strategic team. As a result, this style doesn’t treat everyone fairly. Furthermore, the head of the organization may be skeptical of the process used or the person using it. So if you consider this a workable style, tread carefully.
4. Transformational Leadership
This leadership style is seen when a leader brings big, transformative changes to the organization. Steve Jobs comes to my mind when I think of a transformational leader. This leader puts tough challenges in front of his/her team. She requires people to go beyond their call of duty to perform well for a bigger purpose. While this style may work well for start-ups, it could create insecurity for some people. That is especially true for those who are not quick to adapt to challenging situations.
5. Laissez-Faire Leadership
"Laissez-faire," in Latin, means “let them do.” In this style, the leader allows their team to do their tasks without interfering much. The leader doesn't ask a lot of questions. They give full authority to their team to carry out their duties without a lot of strong oversight. One can follow this style only when they have a team of experienced and expert workers that they trust implicitly. This isn't the right style when a company or organization has a lot of newbies or trainees who need a lot of oversight.
6. Transactional Leadership
The transactional leader clarifies goals and tasks to their team with submission deadlines. When the members obey the instructions and complete the work on time, the transactional leader will reward them well. Transactional leadership works very well in the areas of sales or marketing where there are strong financial incentives to succeed. People receive rewards in cash and kind when they meet or exceed the target within the stipulated time.
7. Bureaucratic Leadership
The bureaucratic leadership style is the autocratic leadership style with a twist. Here, the leader listens to the ideas of his team members. But he then rejects them upfront if they are not in line with his or the company’s policy. This style of leadership is not very useful. Nonetheless, it is quite prevalent. You will find it in most government agencies, for example. You also find it in a lot of school divisions. Team members don’t feel free to voice out their opinions to their boss. It lends itself to a top-down hierarchy that doesn't value innovation or input.
As you read over these characteristics, who comes to mind?
Do you recognize yourself in any of them?
If you could choose to be any one of them, which would it be?
Do you feel you know enough about what it takes to be a great leader?
If not, I have a suggestion for you.
I developed this training a few months ago, and I offered it to a live audience of about forty people. I got rave reviews.
I decided to take it to a broader audience.
After all, many people aspire to become better, stronger leaders.
And Lord knows, we need some good, strong leaders in every arena in our society right now, don't we?
This training will provide a lot of food for thought that you can use in your own leadership development.
Will you join me?