There’s no shortage of information regarding leadership styles, that’s for sure. A fair amount of confusion exists among emerging and existing leaders concerning which style to use when. While this is not a perfect science, here’s the straight scoop on this from my perspective.
Experts generally agree that having the ability to adapt to different leadership styles is a competency that is critical to possess if you’re going to be the least bit successful at leadership. Different styles resonate with different people, at differing times in a company’s growth. But how adept a leader is at choosing which to use when is the skill to acquire. Under certain conditions, there are better choices of styles to use to get “buy in” from employees. “Typically, the best and most effective leaders will act according to one or more of the 6 approaches and skillfully switch between the various styles depending on the situation. “
So the first thing to think of is-do I really want to expend the energy that it will take to become a great leader because it will take some energy and it will involve behavior changes. Behavior change is difficult as those of us who have tried to stop eating, stop smoking or start exercising can attest.
If you’re still interested in becoming a better leader start by buying the book Primal Leadership and actually read it.Primal Leadership is based entirely on the concept of emotional intelligence. There are 6 styles of leadership which fall into either Resonant Styles or Dissonant Styles. In this example, a Resonant leader is “attuned to people’s feelings” and can move people in a positive emotional direction. A Resonant leader speaks authentically from a values perspective and resonates with the emotions of those around him. He leaves people uplifted and inspired. Resonant styles boost the performance of the team.
Visionary tendencies of a leader: A visionary leader is able to go above the fray and see the big picture. They are not shy about connecting their personal and organizational values with their emotions and communicating openly about such. They have the ability to spot business trends and see market opportunities. They encourage innovation and set challenging objectives for others to follow.
Coaching tendencies of a leader: the coaching style focuses on the team and their development, as a great leader recognizes that they can’t do it all on their own. They need a highly competent and motivated team of individuals. A coaching leader knows the value in investing their time to make others strong. So, this coaching style readily admits their mistakes, thus humanizing their leadership position. They can arouse enthusiasm with the team, provide constructive feedback and support others through the completion of a task. This upfront investment on the leader’s part contributes to the increased performance of the team. Think of the coach as being the leader that notices what you don’t know and helps you know it. The coach recognizes that learning takes time so they give feedback along the way and teach that failure often accompanies learning. They make sure the team gets credit, participates and feels at ease.
An Affiliative Leader is most concerned with promoting harmony and fostering friendly interactions and nurturing personal relationships. Affiliative leaders value the downtown in organizations because it allows more time to build emotional capital. They focus on the emotional goals of the employees more than even work goals. This makes empathy –the ability to sense the feelings, needs, and perspectives of others. Even though this style can be beneficial, it is best to use it in conjunction with other styles. The very nature of this style can offer downsides too. Sometimes there is an ability to let poor performance flourish which can lead to mediocrity. Affiliative leaders rarely offer constructive criticism so it leaves employees without direction when improvement is in order. Some organizations over use this Affiliative style to the degree that they are just simply too nice and easy.
A Democratic leader will often seek advice and direction from their senior leadership staff. This action is not a show of weakness, rather a demonstration of confidence in the competence of the staff which can be empowering. A democratic leader will have strengths in the competencies of teamwork, conflict management and collaboration. If the team from which the leader solicits advice is incompetent then we have a potential disaster. Using this modality is good in small doses, but you wouldn’t want to over use this style. The staff could begin to get the sense that the leader knows nothing. Again, using this modality with others is best.
Unlike the Resonant styles, dissonant styles are to be accessed sparingly and under specific conditions. They can be effective but check out the uses first.
A leader with this style can set clear objectives and priorities. They tend to be able to handle multiple demands. Typically they pinpoint poor performers, demand more from them and if they don’t rise to the occasion, they rescue the situation themselves. They can accomplish a lot, but the cost can be a problem. This high energy style can wear employees down because they simply cannot keep up the pace. During certain times, this can be an effective style, but use only as needed. The high pressure all the time can become problematic. Morale can be affected. If the leader lacks self awareness and lacks the understanding of how this style can be negative they may miss the impact their “pacesetting” is having on company performance. Again this can be an effective use of talent but combine it with another style modality for best results.
According to the experts, the commanding approach is the least effective in most situations. This style rarely uses praise and freely criticizes employees. This style can erode the people’s spirits, pride and satisfaction in their work. This style can tend to turn loyal employees into disengaged followers. No longer thinking for themselves, they simply want to avoid the barrage of criticism. That said, the commanding style does have a place in the palette of styles. Think about when there is an emergency or a sense of urgency in a business. You need to have a leader that takes charge and gives direction. This control can help transition everyone through a crisis. If a leader overuses this style and has little in the way of emotional self control-it can look like a modern day Attila the Hun.
Leadership Styles-Primal Leadership, Goleman, Boyatis, McKee copyright 2002