don’t keep your leadership style a secret

By in Editor Picks, Leadership, and People Who Achieve
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Have you ever worked with a leader whose leadership style didn’t meet your needs? Chances are we can all think of at least one leader who fits that description. That leader’s style may have even been the reason we left a job or left an organization.

Because your leadership style can make or break an employee’s commitment to you and your organization, self-awareness becomes critically important for leaders. You must understand your leadership style. You must confirm that style is appropriate for your role. And you need to be open and honest with others about your style.

Seek to understand your style

Trying to identify your leadership style can be overwhelming, especially when you consider that people devote entire careers and years of research to understanding and identifying leadership styles.

For the sake of gaining some self-awareness, keep it simple. In my experience most leaders fall into one of these three categories:

  • Practical Leaders adhere to process and procedures and require their team members to do the same. Think of an environment where accuracy and precision are paramount – this is a playground for a procedural leader.
  • Persuasive Leaders inspire and motivate their team members. During a time of change or organizational flux, a charismatic leader can rally employees and create momentum.
  • Servant Leaders focus on the needs of the team, lead by example, and use a values-based approach to leading others. Servant leaders are experts at building relationships and use those connections to create a thriving workplace culture.

Think of situations where being a leader has felt comfortable. Were you focused on being practical, persuasive, or of service? Let those positive experiences inform your natural leadership style.

Consider your current role

The needs of each leadership role can vary. You need to ask questions to make sure your preferred leadership style is the best fit for your current role. Is your organization in a time of flux, when people are disenchanted and don’t have much hope about the future? In that case you might need to pepper your practical leadership approach with some elements of a Persuasive Leader who can inspire and motivate the workforce.

Likewise, if you’re leading a team that has lost sight of delivering results, you might need to use the approach of a Practical Leader more than a Servant Leader.

Communicate about your approach

The people you’re leading want to know your leadership approach.  You’ll have a lot more success if you establish open communication about your leadership style:

  • When you’re new to a team, consider having someone from HR facilitate a new manager assimilation discussion with the team. It’s a safe environment for your team to ask questions about your leadership style and for you to provide honest, insightful answers that will help you work together.
  • Create opportunities for your team to learn more about personality types and how those types work together as a team (e.g., Strengthsfinder or Myers-Brigg Type Indicator). Having a greater understanding of people’s personalities will help your team communicate better.
  • Use one-on-one meetings as a time to check in about your leadership style. Based on conversations you have, you’ll know if you need to adjust your style according to an individual or situation.

With a little self-awareness, a lot of communication, and an ability to adjust your leadership style, you can become a great leader who helps retain talent in your organization.

By liz sheffield
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