Choose Your Leadership Style Wisely

Common Leadership Styles

As I was speaking with a client today, we both reflected on how, as young leaders, we used the “command and control” style of leadership.  It was a big regret for both of us, but it created the question in my mind of “why do so many new leaders choose this style?”.  Without too much psycho babble, I am pretty sure it has something to do with vulnerability from a lack of confidence.  Trying to over-compensate.

Hindsight is 20/20, but it also has me thinking about one of my favourite quotes on leadership:

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” (Ralph Nader)

In the rapidly changing world of business, it is probably a good time to re-evaluate your style to ensure you are not stuck in a “default style” from a previous leader, and perhaps these questions might help:

  1. Which style is more authentic to you?  If you see yourself as most fulfilled when you are assisting your team members to greater performance, that might be “servant leadership”.
  2. How flexible can I be when empowering others?  If you are self-aware enough to remember when you were unconsciously incompetent with tasks, you might enjoy “situational leadership II”. I HIGHLY recommend a course with Paul Stapleton, the Australian licensee; he is one of the best Blanchard facilitators I have ever met, and I have met a few.
  3. Are you only comfortable with driving performance through carrots and sticks?  Transactional leadership might be to your taste, but be warned: it doesn’t engender engagement nor continuous improvement.  And if you think it is perfect for retail and FMCG, please read this from Harvard Business Review before you commit.
  4. While it may seem morbid, I find this one very useful “What do you want people to say about your leadership style when you are gone?”  If you want tales worthy of Homer told about you, you might consider charismatic leadership.  Just understand it is a 24/7 investment.

Whichever style you choose, keep yourself on track by setting goals around your leadership style, not just KPI’s and operational plans, lest your intent be misinterpreted and you fail to get the results you want.