How Understanding Your Leadership Style Makes You More Effective 

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Welcome to my series of podcasts, which will help you navigate the inevitable difficult events at work that are part of being a manager.

Today, I want to talk about how understanding your leadership style makes you more effective. 

Think about the leaders you know and their approaches to leadership. The chances are that you know as many approaches to leadership as you know leaders. 

Do you know what type of leader you are? Being aware of your leadership style, and more importantly, the style that could really help your organisation thrive, can help you become a more effective leader. 

Many different leadership styles have come to the fore, as those in business and psychology have produced frameworks to describe how people lead. Let’s look at some of the most well-known leadership approaches. You might recognise yourself as having one particular style, or your style may be a mix of these, depending on your organisation or even the situation you’re in. 

The psychologist Kurt Lewin developed his leadership framework in the 1930s, and he said there were three main styles of leadership:

Autocratic leadership: This is where leaders make decisions without consulting their employees, which can be appropriate if decisions need to be taken quickly and getting people to agree isn’t necessary to get the job done. This style can affect morale however, if employees feel like they are being excluded from decision-making or being kept in the dark. 

The next style he identified is democratic leadership: Democratic leaders make the final decision, but they do involve employees in the decision-making process. They welcome creativity and innovation and do a good job of engaging staff, which results in higher levels of job satisfaction and productivity. If you need to make a decision fast, this is not necessarily the best style in that situation. 

And finally, he identified what he called laissez-faire leadership: This is where leaders give employees a lot of autonomy over how they do their work. They support employees when it’s needed but otherwise they stay in the background. This style can be great for morale, but it’s not great if employees aren’t self-motivated enough to do their work effectively. 

The next leadership framework is the Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid which was published in 1964. This framework suggests which style is most appropriate to use, depending on whether you lead with a focus on people or tasks, but it recommends that you lead with a mixture of both styles; that is, with a focus on people and the task. 

A people-oriented leadership style focuses on organising, supporting, and developing your employees by focusing on teamwork and creative collaboration. 

A task-oriented leadership style is different in that it focuses on getting the job done. Everything is planned, structured, and monitored to the last detail. 

Other popular leadership styles to note are:

Transformational leadership: In business, this leadership style is very effective to use. Transformational leadership is about having integrity and emotional intelligence. A leader using this style will motivate people by sharing their vision for the future and by communicating well. These leaders lead by example and can easily resolve conflicts, which increases staff engagement and productivity. 

Next is bureaucratic leadership: Bureaucratic leaders follow rules and procedures to the letter. 

This is an appropriate style to use when you’re dealing with work where there are inherent safety risks and for managing employee who are performing routine tasks. This style would not be appropriate where creativity or innovation was needed. 

Charismatic leadership is the next style to look at. This style is similar to transformational leadership in that leaders are motivating and inspirational, but the major difference is that charismatic leaders want to focus on themselves and their personal ambitions rather than having a desire to make changes for the good of the organisation. Charismatic leaders also tend to refuse to believe they are wrong, but no one is infallible, and when they are shown to have made an error, it can be very damaging to an organisation. 

You might recognise transactional leadership from some of the organisations you have worked for. This style is based on the idea that employees agree to obey their leader by default when they accept a job with that organisation. The transaction referred to in the name is that the organisation are paying an employee to do their work and comply. The idea that an employee can be reprimanded for not being up to standard is also a feature of this leadership style. This style is often present in business leadership, and there are clear benefits, such as clarifying people’s roles and responsibilities and rewards for good performance. However, this style of leadership doesn’t do much for employee job satisfaction and morale, and it’s not very useful in creative environments. 

So, what are the benefits of understanding your leadership style?

There are many benefits to understanding your leadership style. You will have a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses, and if you work on these by using your strengths strategically and developing yourself in your weaker areas, you can be a more effective leader. 

Another benefit is that different leadership styles are suited to different work environments, and understanding where your leadership style will be an asset is a big advantage. It will also help you to pinpoint your ideal jobs and organisations to work for if you’re looking for a new role. 

Lastly, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of your leadership style will help you communicate better with employees. You could even share your leadership style with them, and if they understand your perspective on things, they might be able to work even better with you. Of course, remember that your leadership style might not be compatible with certain personalities, so you have to accept that you win some and you lose some. 

Would you like to understand more about your leadership style and how it can make you more effective? 

Why not sign up to my online course ‘Level Up Your Leadership’ which will teach you about the different leadership styles and whether your leadership style is helping or hindering your success. 

You can find more information on my website and (I’ll pop the link in the comments) * Is this possible? 

Let’s be better leaders and make our workplaces better, not just for profits but for people. 

I hope that you got some good tips from today’s podcast, and I’ll see you next time. 

This is The People Mentor signing off.

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