Today’s most successful leaders understand the different leadership styles at their disposal and know when to use them. Adapting your style to meet the needs of a particular situation is a crucial indicator of your potential for success as a leader.
There are multiple ways to learn about leadership, including enrolling in a seminar or taking courses at your local college or online. If you happen to have an MBA, you could further your knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of different leadership styles. For example, you could enroll in a Doctor of Business Administration online at a provider such as Aston University, the perfect option for professionals to build advanced knowledge in their fields.
The reality is that leadership is a broad topic. With so many different approaches to leadership, it’s often difficult to know where to start. Should you be direct or indirect? What about participative or directive leadership? Are there some hybrid styles that combine elements of several others? Let’s look at some of the most common leadership styles to find which one works best for you and those you lead.
What is your leadership style?
As mentioned, many different leadership styles exist. The first step to choosing one for yourself is knowing what’s available. This blog post explores the common communication styles in each kind of leadership approach.
As an executive or manager, you may have to use elements of more than one style at different times. It’s helpful to have a primary focus. The most common leadership styles are directive, coaching and participative. Hybrid styles combine elements of two or more of these approaches. As a result, leadership styles aren’t rigid and can blend.
Directive leadership, or authoritative leadership, is a common approach to running a business. Directive leaders provide a clear sense of direction by laying out the path for others to follow. The former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, exemplified this leadership style at times. A directive approach involves issuing orders, setting standards, and giving instructions to follow. One could say it’s a controlling style that tells others what to do, as well as how and when to do it. Communication in a directive style is primarily directive or top-down.
In recent times, there’s been a shift toward a participative leadership style from the old directive leadership style. Also called collaborative leadership, this is a more open approach that encourages participation, creativity, and input from everyone. Participative leaders encourage open discussion and the sharing of ideas and suggestions. They’re more likely to ask questions like, “What do you think?” and “What are your ideas?”. In sum, this approach promotes buy-in and ownership.
Coaching and mentoring
There’s a difference between coaching and mentoring. Mentoring is more about guiding someone to succeed in the long term. It takes a more holistic approach with a focus on career development. Alternatively, coaching is about immediate problem-solving with a focus on on-the-job performance. Therefore, there may be specific outcomes that the coach and coachee are working towards in the short term, whereas the relationship between a mentor and mentee may last longer. The agenda will be set by the mentee while the mentor provides support and insight gained from their own experience.
Cultural leadership focuses on creating and maintaining a positive organizational culture. This type of leadership is not focused on one person or team. Cultural leaders create an organizational culture that encourages trust, open communication, and collaboration. They can do this in many ways. For instance, they can develop a positive culture by setting effective and engaged team meetings. They will also hold regular one-on-one sessions with team members. Cultural leaders encourage team members to be themselves and to contribute their best while also being mindful of others.
Resilience-building leadership is the art of helping team members bounce back from challenges and maintain a positive state of mind. It’s an approach to leadership that focuses on team members’ mental and emotional state, as much as their skills and productivity. This type of leadership focuses on building problem-solving, communication, and time management skills. Resilience-building leaders are patient and understanding. They rely on team members’ ideas and suggestions while setting and holding everyone accountable for reaching goals while being mindful of team members’ emotional and mental states.
How leadership styles improve productivity
The best leaders continually seek self-improvement. Still, regardless of what leadership style you choose to employ, there are two significant indicators of productivity in the workplace. The first is motivation, and the second is creativity (i.e., innovation). Motivation and creativity increase when you employ a more authentic, participative, and empowering approach to leadership. In addition, you’ll likely see an increase in trust between employees and a decrease in turnover and absenteeism. If employees aren’t being challenged and aren’t meeting their goals, it may be time to try a different leadership approach. If there’s very little collaboration occurring within your company, you may benefit from a more inclusive and participative process.
How to improve productivity regardless of leadership style
Regardless of your leadership style, you can do a few things to ensure productivity remains high across your organization. First, make sure you have a clear understanding of your company’s values and mission statement. Doing so helps you stay aligned with your company’s core values, no matter your leadership approach.
In addition, ensure that employees feel motivated and engaged. You can do this by offering plenty of professional and personal development opportunities. For instance, allow for a flexible work schedule and plenty of room for creativity. Moreover, to keep productivity high, try these strategies:
- Create a culture that supports productivity
- Hold yourself and your team accountable for your goals
- Set the right goal for yourself and your team
Leaders know their strengths
Whatever your leadership style, it’s essential to understand other approaches to compare and contrast them. Leaders who know their strengths and weaknesses also better understand the strengths and weaknesses of others. As a result, it helps with problem-solving and decision-making. Successful leadership requires more than just being a boss or ordering people around. It requires empathy for others and understanding your team member’s strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, it requires an ability to adjust your leadership style to meet the needs of a particular situation.