You may have experienced varying leadership styles during your career. How important are they in making or breaking the development of teams? I am sure we can agree that there are many assessments that can measure where you tend to gravitate in your style and point out how you can be a better leader. I will not go into specific tools or assessments that measure this skill but more around what makes a good leader great. In other words, why do teams of people follow some leaders and not others?
The underlying tone of these leadership styles and measurements is tied to how well you communicate in particular circumstances. We all have our default style in which we are comfortable. It was how we were raised, what styles we saw growing up, or even driven by our personality types. This is fine and a good starting point. We need to know which of those styles we default to and why. Here is where you shift from good to great. Imagine your team working together like a well-oiled machine. Well, that is what understanding leadership styles will help you make it reality. Being able to leverage other leadership styles that are needed in the situation but not your preferred position. It is those leaders who can, in the moment, provide what is needed for the team and not themselves. This is the key to success. It is not about you but the team! It is called being a servant leader. If you can get this right, you will have people who will follow you wherever you go. Have you seen leaders who fit this category? Did you see them shift their style to meet the team’s needs?
What I have observed in my experience in being a leader and helping others become better leaders are based in these key elements.
- Communication style
- Conflict style/preference
- Recognition of other’s achievements
- Dealing with ambiguity
- Change leadership
Each of these listed are measured in degrees, they are not true or false but are measured on a scale or continuum. How we handle ourselves as leaders in the moment day after day is how we are measured by our teams. To be effective, I have identified some key behavior’s if done consistently can make a huge impact on your team’s effectiveness.
What to do:
- Understand each of your team member’s preferred leadership style from you
- Avoid derailing behaviors (remember, you are the positive influence and representative of the organization and what it is trying to accomplish)
- Deliver customized/personalized leadership to each team member
- Recognize non-verbal cues to your words and actions; adjust as needed
- Most of all, be authentic! People like real leaders.
Don’t worry if you are less skillful in certain areas. These skills are something that can be practiced and refined over time. It may take a few try’s before you get it right but believe me your team will notice and appreciate the effort. Leadership is a journey not a destination.
This article was published in the LTEN Focus on Training magazine Spring 2018 issue.