Step 2: Understand
Once you have identified which leadership style you are innately good at, you must next seek to understand what sort of leadership your team requires.
While you may have an inherent leadership style, a good leader is one who adapts their leadership style to suit the situation.
While the four leadership styles above have their benefits, they may also inhibit parts of your team’s productivity. For example, if your company is looking to deliver a product in a short timeline, a transformational or autocratic leader might succeed whereas a laissez-faire or democratic leader would not.
This is why it is important to identify the shortcomings of your leadership styles:
- Autocratic: A team may grow to feel micromanaged and not allowed to express themselves or work to their potential.
- Democratic: The loudest voices in the room often prevail, which may not be the best idea available. Also, not all teams are high functioning and decisions may take a long time to come under this leadership style.
- Transformational: This leadership style can quickly burn out a team and cause confusion if it is not built on a strong vision. Additionally, hard workers may not feel as if they are appreciated and those who don’t work as hard may be ostracised by their peers.
- Laissez-faire: Can lead to non-delivery if team members are not clear on the direction of the goal.
Step 3: Adapt
After learning your leadership style and understanding the needs of your team, the next step is simply to adapt your leadership style to meet the needs of your company.
There is no one hard-and-fast answer to leading your team, the different styles are more like careful formulae geared towards certain strengths and weaknesses. This means you must recognise when it is time to adopt different leadership styles.
For example, in small bursts of productivity, become a transformational leader by mobilising your team through a shared vision. In times which demand creativity and collaboration, become a democratic leader and let everyone have a say.
If your industry is undergoing major changes and split-second decisions are needed, do not be afraid to become an autocratic leader. Finally, when your team is confident and productive, let them be their best selves without your direct input. Monitor them lightly in a laissez-faire style.
Step 4: Be Brave (ask)
Unfortunately, thinking you’re a good leader means nothing if your team doesn’t think you are. This is why it is important to give your employees chances to speak up anonymously and safely.
Bravery is one of those descriptions of leadership styles that we discussed. But I personally think bravery is essential in a leader, it really helps us make those difficult decisions, and helps us have those difficult conversations.
I’d suggest, as we do at BJSS, to conduct a yearly survey which includes a question about the trust they have in the company’s leadership. Then follow up with the respondents to ask what qualities they define a leader as having, if they think you’re a good leader and, finally, what leadership qualities they think you have.
By asking this, you’re able to see not only if your leadership style is effective, but what you team expects in a leader and if you are meeting your goals.
Step 5: Learn
The final step is somewhat repetitive in that it asks you to constantly learn from the feedback given from your peers and restart the introspection on your leadership style. By asking your employees, you may uncover that the way they want to be led does not match with your inherent style or the style you believe best fits your company’s goals.
This challenge of constantly learning and adapting your leading style is one many great leaders throughout history have taken, and one that will kickstart new stages of potential from your team.