Have you ever felt that your boss could have handled a situation differently? Frustrated by the way your boss works? We all have different leadership styles and we might prefer some styles over others. But what makes you a great leader? If you’re wondering whether there’s a better leadership style, the answer is no. All leadership styles have their pros and cons and none of them are superior over each other. It’s actually the ability to utilise different leadership styles depending on the situation (aka leadership agility) which makes you a great leader. Think about it, you won’t want a ‘wishy-washy’ approach when there’s a crisis to be tackled. Neither do you want micromanaging for creative projects. According to Daniel Goleman, there are six different leadership styles. Find out how you can utilise the right leadership style for the right situation.
The Visionary Leader (Follow Me)
These leaders are known as the goal-setters. They engage and motivate their team members towards a shared vision. Yet they empower their team members by encouraging them to come up with a solution to achieve the goal. Team members are given the flexibility to experiment with different ideas as long as it achieves the eventual goal.
Most effective when: A new goal or direction is needed.
Least effective when: You are working with a team of experts or highly experienced staff who are able to see the ‘big picture’ and are aware of the organisation’s goals.
The Coaching Leader (Try This)
Think of these leaders as a coach. They seek to unlock their team member’s potential through guidance and nurturing. They are great at delegating tasks which will help to develop their team member’s capabilities. May appear as a micromanager if they are too hands-on and involved in the tasks of their team members.
Most effective when: You are looking to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of your team members or building their long-term capabilities.
Least effective when: Your team member is not open to feedback or is unwilling to change.
The Democratic Leader (What do you think?)
All about participation and hearing the voices of others, these leaders focus on collaboration when it comes to making decisions. They value the inputs of others and encourage creativity and problem solving. They might seem like N.A.T.O (No Action, Talk Only) if they get too involved in listening to the opinions of their team members.
Most effective when: You are looking for alternative perspectives or uncertain about making a decision. It can also be used if you intend to get a buy-in from others.
Least effective when: Emergency situations arise and rapid action is required.
The Affiliative Leader (People Come First)
These leaders create a harmonious working environment that is centred on trust and collaboration. They help to foster and strengthen bonds between people and try to be inclusive. Leaders often do not use this style in silos since using solely praise and nurturing can lead to mediocre work performance.
Most effective when: Motivating others during stressful situations or healing rifts between the team.
Least effective when: Negative feedback is required.
The Pace-Setting Leader (Do As I Do)
Just a pacer in a marathon or race, these leaders set high standards of performance to motivate and challenge team members to greater heights. Typically low on guidance, team members are expected to have a form of self-direction. Team members under them are prone to burn-outs and overwhelming stress if this style is constantly used.
Most effective when: You need results from a competent and motivated team.
Least effective when: Dealing with new-hires who are new to the industry or organisation.
The Commanding Leader (Do As I Say)
Clear directions and the expectation of full compliance is a hallmark trait of these leaders. They are often experienced and knowledgeable in their field of work and tend to make decisions with little inputs from the team. These leaders might seem cold and alienating to the team members and they are often known to be strict and decisive.
Most effective when: Emergency situations arise and a rapid response or clear action is needed. Can also be used to deal with problematic or inexperienced team members.
Least effective when: Creativity and innovation is needed for the project.
Regardless of the type of leader you are, leadership agility can help you navigate confidently in the workplace and retain the confidence and trust of your team members. Be aware of your dominant leadership style but also familiarise yourself with the different styles. This will help to build your leadership agility and make you a better leader!