No one is born a great leader – but most people can become one. There are many different types of leadership and leadership styles and we are constantly changing and improving the way in which companies grow and mature. If you’re currently a leader in your industry or are aspiring to be one, it’s important to understand which leadership styles are most effective and how to emphasize and implement the specific strengths you bring to the table. Leadership style refers to the approach the leader uses most of the time.
What a Leader Does
Leadership is a crucial aspect of any successful organization. Effective leadership is not just about giving orders or making decisions; it is about inspiring and motivating people to work towards a common goal. To be a great leader, one must possess certain fundamental skills that make up their personal leadership style.
One of the most important skills for a leader is the ability to communicate effectively. A leader must be able to clearly and concisely convey their vision and goals to their team. They must also be able to actively listen and communicate with their team members to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Another critical skill for a leader is the ability to make tough decisions. A leader must be able to weigh the pros and cons of a situation and make a decision that is in the best interest of the organization, and understand the decision making process. This can be difficult and requires the leader to have a deep understanding of the organization, its goals, and its values.
A great leader must also be able to inspire and motivate their team members. This can be achieved through various means, such as setting achievable goals, providing recognition and rewards, and offering opportunities for growth and development.
Empathy is another essential quality for a leader. A leader must be able to understand the needs and concerns of their team members and address them in a way that makes them feel valued and heard. This requires a high level of emotional intelligence, which is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one's own emotions and those of others.
Leadership also requires a high degree of accountability. A leader must take responsibility for their actions and decisions and be willing to be held accountable for any mistakes or failures. This fosters a culture of responsibility and integrity within the organization.
Building relationships is another important aspect of leadership. A great leader must be able to build strong relationships with their team members, stakeholders, and customers. This requires the leader to be approachable, open, and transparent in their communication.
In addition to these skills and qualities, a great leader must also have a deep understanding of their industry and the market in which their organization operates. They must be able to identify emerging trends and adjust their strategies accordingly to stay ahead of the competition.
Finally, a great leader must be a lifelong learner. They must be willing to continually improve their skills and knowledge through self-reflection, feedback, and ongoing education. This allows them to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices and adapt their leadership style accordingly.
In conclusion, leadership is a complex set of skills and qualities that are essential for the success of any organization. Effective leadership requires a deep understanding of the organization, its goals, and its values. It also requires the ability to communicate effectively, make tough decisions, inspire and motivate team members, show empathy, take accountability, build relationships, have industry knowledge, and be a lifelong learner. By developing these skills and qualities, any aspiring leader can become a driving force behind their organization's success.
7 Most Common Leadership Styles
A democratic leader's styles can be very effective in the business climate. This type of leader makes decisions based on the input of each team member – making all employees feel valued and included. The leader is making the final call but each employee has an equal say on a project’s direction or the bigger outcome.
This is one of the most effective leadership styles because it allows employees to get comfortable with decision-making and authority that they may put to use in future roles. This is also how executives make decisions in company board meetings.
Autocratic leadership is the opposite of democratic. This is when the leader makes decisions without taking input from anyone who reports to them. Employees are neither considered nor consulted before making a decision, and they follow orders as the leader determines.
This leadership style is highly ineffective because most organizations can’t sustain this kind of environment without losing employees very quickly. Companies are much more successful when they have a more open leadership style that makes use to the intellect and perspective of other team members as well as the leader.
Laissez Faire leadership is the least intrusive form of leading. This means that leaders let team members pretty much do as they please – they have autonomy and authority and can proceed without the leader’s direction.
Some employees thrive under laissez faire leaders. They feel trusted to work however they like and don’t feel constrained or micromanaged. However, it can sometimes backfire. Without more direct management, some employees will have a hard time developing more fully. And without keeping this leadership style in check, it’s easy to overlook critical company growth opportunities.
Strategic leaders know how to straddle the line between a company’s ongoing operations and its potential growth opportunities. This leader accepts all things related to the executive interests of a company while also ensuring that current working conditions are stable for employees.
This kind of thinking can be very effective for a company because it supports multiple types of employees at once. But, it also sets leaders up for a dangerous precedent – it’s easy to get overzealous about how many people you can actually fully support at once. If a leader doesn’t maintain focus, the company can easily lose direction and focus.
Transformational leadership is always changing and adapting to the company’s needs. For example, an employee might have a basic set of tasks and goals to stick to every week, but the leader also constantly pushes them to work outside of their comfort zone.
This type of leadership is super popular with growth-minded companies today. It is highly motivating for employees who prefer a dynamic and challenging work environment. However, transformational leaders can also risk losing sight of where their employees are at individually. It requires thorough coaching to help guide employees in their new and changing responsibilities.
Transactional leaders reward employees for their work. An example would be a sales team that gets a scheduled bonus for making their numbers every quarter. This type of leadership is a great way to help establish roles and responsibilities for specific employees and give them the incentive to succeed. However, many companies find that it can encourage bare-minimum work if employees make too direct of a connection between their investment of time and how much they get paid. Transactional leadership isn't very helpful for increasing sales.
Bureaucratic leaders, unlike autocratic leaders, listen and consider input from employees but don’t adapt well to change or consider input that conflicts with company policy. This type of leadership is not as controlling as autocratic, but it still greatly limits the freedom in how much employees can contribute, advance, etc. This is not a great style for innovation and definitely won’t help companies who have ambitious goals and are after quick growth.
The 4 Bits of Intelligence of Effective Leadership Styles
- Cognitive: Leadership requires that one be able to assess the current state, envision a better future state, and to determine the strategy, tactics, and actions for bringing that future state into being. This work requires that one be intelligent enough to be able to do each of these things in an environment of accelerating, constant, and disruptive change with limited resources.
- Intrapersonal: This is the Ancient Greek admonition: “Know thyself.” The ability to understand one’s own feelings, thoughts, and motivations is a recognized form of intelligence. When a leader knows themselves, they know who they are, their strengths, their deficiencies, and what areas that they may need help. This intelligence is a large part of what allows the leader to develop and utilize the next intelligence.
- Interpersonal: The effectiveness of a leader is limited by their ability to lead the people in their charge. This requires a higher than average intelligence when it comes to people. This intelligence is what allows the leader to understand others, to interact with them in ways that cause them to grow, inspiring them to act, and recognizing their feelings. This is the ability to take multiple perspectives, especially 2nd person, 3rd person, and likely even greater numbers.
- Moral: Hitler was high enough on the cognitive line. He was also intelligent enough when it came to interpersonal skills. Certainly, we can guess that he was lacking as it pertains to intrapersonal intelligence. But when it comes to moral intelligence, he is one of four or five people in modern times vying for the lowest possible score. Every leader needs a list of non-negotiables, and much of that list will be values. Determining what those values are and building a culture around them requires moral intelligence.
Be a Model
You say that your salespeople should block off time for their most important tasks, like nurturing their dream clients, prospecting, and following up. You want the members of your team to do the things that make a difference and produce results. Are you blocking time for coaching your sales team, the most important activity and the one that generates the highest return on effort?
You tell your sales team to get out from behind their email and get in front of clients, to go where the action is and make a difference. You tell them not to waste time with the browser and their twelve open tabs. However, you dole out this direction from behind your CRM’s dashboard. Staring at the score never helped anyone win a game. How often do you see a coach with his back to the field of play?
You want your salespeople to study so they’ll have the business acumen to create value for their prospects and clients, as well as distinguish themselves in a crowded field of “me too” competitors. You want them to read, to educate themselves, to do their homework. Are you better and more widely read than your sales team? Do you have the business acumen to be a peer when you are sitting in front of their clients? Or might you fail the test you ask your team to pass?
As a leader, you carry a formidable responsibility to guide and motivate those under your wing. Your every action and decision will be subject to rigorous scrutiny, and your behavior will serve as the standard for your team to emulate. It is essential that you lead by example, not just by words.
Your team will observe your every move, and their perception of you will mold their loyalty and commitment to your vision. If you falter in your actions and your words, your team will lose faith in your leadership. You cannot expect your team to heed your call if you fail to demonstrate your worthiness of their trust.
To earn the respect of your team, you must embody the values that you want them to hold. If you demand punctuality, then you must exemplify punctuality. If you expect them to work hard, then you must work harder. You must set the bar for excellence and strive to surpass it every single day.
Leading by example also demands accountability for your actions. If you make a mistake, own up to it and take responsibility. Your team will value your candor and will be more willing to follow your lead when they witness your willingness to admit your flaws.
To be a successful leader, you must possess the ability to communicate your vision with clarity and passion. You must inspire your team to believe in your vision and to work towards a shared objective. Your zeal and fervor will be contagious and will motivate your team to give their best effort.
In conclusion, if you aspire for your team to follow you, you must lead them. You must embody the values you want them to hold and demonstrate the actions you want them to take. You must communicate your vision with clarity and passion and be accountable for your actions. Remember, your people will follow your lead, so make sure you lead by example.