How to Find Your Leadership Style
While some people are naturally able to lead by relying on a particular leadership style, specific leadership skills and more comprehensive styles can also be learned. It helps to know and develop your own style of leadership and draw on your personal strengths to motivate and enthuse those around you. Leadership skills, which motivate others, can be used in tandem with management skills, which are used to organize and plan, to effectively complete projects.Take specific steps to better understand the leadership style that may work best for you, and to draw on other styles of leadership as well.
Recognizing Your Natural Leadership Tendencies
Assess your personal strengths.Whether you tend to be more collaborative or more independent when taking on a leadership role, there are a whole slew of characteristics that go into your personality – and accordingly, to your personal leadership style. Take online personality and leadership style tests to help further establish the dominant characteristics of your personality and the potential style of leadership that may work best for you.
- Ask your colleagues – both above you and below you in the hierarchy of the professional world – what strengths they believe you have, as well as those areas you should look into strengthening further.
Figure out what leadership style best fits your strengths.There are established styles of leadership that will allow you to capitalize on the strengths you already actively demonstrate. Knowing what these strengths are can you choose the style that may be the most effective for you. Consider the following lists of characteristics and consider whether you identify especially strongly with one particular set.
- Are you empathetic, team-oriented, emotionally approachable, open to input, and inspiration-driven? Leaders of this variety are seen as collaborators or energizers, and can use their positive energy and ability to inspire to lead and motivate others.
- Are you action oriented, confident in the methodology you use, loyal, quality-driven, execution-focused, and stable? Leaders who identify with these characteristics can be seen as providers or harmonizers, and are often able to keep a team working together smoothly.
- Are you cautious in making decisions, task-focused, results-oriented, traditional, decisive, and self-reliant? Leaders of this sort, considered producers or composers, are often especially able to lead their team to achieve specific goals.
Default to the style that you believe will work.Your search for a particular leadership style should reflect attention to what will generate results in the context within which you are expected to lead. While your default personality makes using certain leadership styles easier – this doesn’t necessarily mean that the style of leadership you may naturally be inclined towards is the right one for the job.
- Recognize that the leadership style you choose to employ is a choice, and a temporary choice at that.
- Think about how different styles of leadership will allow you to do different things, and consider leaning towards the style you think will be the most effective.
Draw on multiple styles of leadership.Be ready and willing to adapt your leadership approach when different situations call for it. For example, be willing to utilize more directive, pace-setting styles of leadership at certain times - even if you usually take a more collaborative, creative, and participatory approach.
- Your go-to leadership style will simply not work in every situation you face. This is perhaps especially true in unexpected moments, when effective leadership is most necessary.
- Prepare for situations in which you may need to utilize a style of leadership you’re not used to. This includes the role of enforcer. If your leadership role usually doesn’t require you to be forceful, don’t allow this to lead to hesitation or uncertainty when a situation that calls for a stern approach arises.
Avoid emulating leadership styles that don’t fit your personality.Do not allow yourself to resort to leadership styles that do not accurately reflect who you are as an individual. More than likely, straying too far from how you usually behave and interact with those around you will come across as disingenuous.
- Maintain authenticity by behaving in a manner that you can be genuinely proud of.
- If you’re feeling awkward when trying out a new leadership style, don’t stick to something you don’t see developing further.
- Keep experimenting with leadership styles until you find the one that allows you to be comfortable and confident.
Be ready and willing to follow.Recognize and appreciate the strengths of your colleagues and the value of their contributions to maximize your collective effectiveness.It’s impossible to be perfectly well-rounded, let alone have a mastery of all the skill sets needed to complete most multi-faceted projects. A well-led team, however, can be both well-rounded and masterfully multi-talented.
Developing Your Leadership Abilities
Articulate your expectations and make sure benchmarks are achieved.Ensure those you lead are on board with your view of the way forward to ensure the wind keeps blowing in the right direction. Set specific dates that your expect certain tasks to be completed and check in with those responsible when those dates arrive.
- Cultivate the belief in others that you’re approaching your collective goals by emphasizing the positive steps taken along the way.
- Maintain this confidence by communicating consistently with everyone around you.
Keep the communication channels flowing.Remind yourself that nobody can read your mind, and that your ability to articulate your vision of an idea or solution is initially the most important factor in the realization of that idea. In simplest terms: get the word out and keep everybody – including yourself – up-to-date.
- Value your own and others' time by planning exactly how you want to convey certain concepts to those you lead.
- Understand that you may have to explain a certain idea in several different ways to ensure it is fully understood by everyone involved.
Learn from those you lead.You will get nowhere if you’re not aware of the needs and feelings of those around you. In fact, your ability to lead is in large part dependent on being able to recognize the value of other peoples’ contributions.After ensuring that you’re on the same page with everyone, trust those around you to make innovative decisions about different ways of doing things.
- Stay out of the way when good things are happening. Believing in those around you and giving them the freedom to rise to the occasion will inspire confidence and productivity.
- Ask those you lead what more you can offer to help them accomplish the tasks they are assigned.
- Ask yourself how you can better bring out the best in those you lead to fine tune your leadership approach with each specific colleague.
Learn from other leaders, too.It’s no secret that the world turns just as quickly outside your realm of awareness, let alone your sphere of influence. Keep an active external network with other leaders in your industry and read widely about the technological and socio-political developments that will affect whatever you’re involved in.
Honing the Key Qualities of an Effective Leader
Demonstrate integrity at all times.Your ability to positively affect those around you is a reflection of your personal integrity. The degree to which those around you are willing to follow you – more directly, the degree to which others trust you – depends foremost on whether people believe you to be a person of integrity. While this all may sound melodramatic, it’s immensely important. It’s also rather straightforward.
- Treat everyone with respect.
- Don’t participate in something you would be upset to learn that someone else had done.
- Be honest, especially in regards to your failures.
Practice patience.For one thing, you will diminish your own and other’s productivity if you easily become frustrated with minor mistakes or temporary setbacks. If you find yourself frequently getting frustrated with those you lead, take a step back and reflect on your perspective of those around you.
- Treat your colleagues as your equals. Impatience with others is an indication that you view them primarily as something to be used to accomplish a certain task.
- The next time a mistake is made, take the opportunity to address the issue calmly and with your mind towards prevention and education. Take care to do so without being patronizing.
Be kind to everyone around you.It’s been proven time and time again that positive reinforcement is more effective than punishment or other reactionary protocols. Not only do people simply respond well to kindness, a leader that is friendly is more often admired.
- If someone isn’t meeting your expectations, approach them with the intention of understanding why they are struggling, and be ready to propose a path that they might take to get back on track.
- Let people know when they’re doing well, too. This will increase confidence, moral, and comradery.
Delegate challenging tasks to capable employees.One of your primary roles as a leader in almost any context is to help those you lead learn to take on new responsibilities. Give them the necessary opportunities to practice doing so by delegating appropriately challenging tasks. Delegating tasks that others can accomplish also allows you to focus on the responsibilities that are unique to your leadership position.
- Avoid the classic pitfall of taking on too much by trusting your team to handle the responsibilities you assign them. Remember that taking on too much is a surefire way to lose control, not contain it.
- Articulate your belief that those you lead can accomplish particularly challenging tasks, as this will motivate them to put their full effort into the task at hand.
- Clarify your expectations. The more clarity you provide about what needs to be accomplished, the more likely those around you will be able to help make it happen.
Video: Leadership Styles - Which Is YOUR Leadership Style?
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