Whether you are leading a small group or a large organization, your leadership style can greatly impact the effectiveness of your efforts. Although there are several types of leadership, the most appropriate one to use depends on you and your team. Christie Lindor, founder and CEO of Tessi Consulting, described some common traits of an effective leader to us.
“Effective leaders demonstrate the political will to make tough decisions and are accountable enough to follow through on promises,” she said. “Transparent communication styles also make leaders effective.”
In addition to making tough decisions and exhibiting clear communication, productive leaders should periodically examine their style and evaluate how their subordinates perceive it. Sometimes it is necessary to alternate leadership styles to accommodate a team’s changing needs. [Related article: 7 Common Leadership Mistakes You’re Probably Making]
Leadership styles can be unique to each individual. However, experts agree that most leaders fit into at least one of these nine different leadership styles. Lindor said when you analyze which leadership style you use, keep in mind that there are no right or wrong styles.
“It’s all about pairing leadership styles with the right organizational fit, market, timing and needs in a way that drives successful outcomes,” she said.
“The leadership styles that I most admire are transformational, which is about articulating an inspiring vision and helping people reinvent themselves and their company; servant leadership, which is all about taking care of your clients, employees and the general community; and situational leadership, which is all about creating an agile way of leading and thinking depending on the needs of the organization or marketplace,” Lindor said.
Each style of leadership has its own disadvantages and advantages, although some styles are seen as more desirable. For example, most small businesses can benefit from transformational, democratic or situational leadership.
After understanding the different types of leadership styles, determine which one feels most authentic to you.
To do this, ask yourself these questions:
There is no right or wrong answer to these queries; many individuals find their leadership style through trial and error. Experiment with different approaches to see which one works best for you and your team. You can also seek a leadership mentor who can offer advice on how they developed their style. Solicit feedback from people you trust as well. Most importantly, be authentic. Try to pick a leadership style that feels natural to use and is aligned with your strengths.
According to Lindor, self-awareness is the foundation of a good leader. When you understand what leadership style works best for you and your team, it’s easier to be an effective leader.
“It’s important to know what type of leader you are (or are not) in order to show up effectively in an organization,” Lindor said. “Knowing your leadership style also helps you decide which organizations might be a better cultural fit.”
Norah Nicholls, principal at Deloitte Tax LLP, said a good understanding of your leadership style can help you communicate with your team more effectively.
“It’s important that you maintain transparency about what you’re focused on as a leader, and to help create alignment around your vision and objectives,” she said. “It’s important to create a culture where people understand the strengths that they collectively bring to the team.”
Nicholls said that effective leaders are able to set a vision, align people with that perspective, and show them how they can achieve that intent together. However, you must play to the strengths of your leadership style to achieve that goal. “If you can better understand your leadership strengths and harness them, you will continue to grow and succeed.”
Effective leaders understand who they are and who they are not so they can manage effectively.
Regardless of your leadership style, there are leadership behaviors you can exhibit to inspire employee motivation and success. A prime example is to be a positive role model for your team.
“Showing your people that you are constantly focusing on improving your own skill set – leadership, industry knowledge, technical skills – is critical to good leadership,” said Nicholls. “Encourage them to explore new skills, to make sure they know you’re committed to their growth.”
Great managers lead by example every day. They are authentic, compassionate and inclusive.
When you set a good example for your employees and show interest in their success, they are more likely to follow your lead and respect your authority. Lindor said that you should also display daily acts of authenticity, compassion and inclusion to inspire employees. You can build trust in your employees if you exhibit genuine actions and are willing to work alongside your team when necessary.
“Employees like to work for leaders they believe have their best interest at heart, leaders that will stand up and support them, particularly during challenging times,” said Lindor. “Regardless of your leadership style, always remember to take care of your people, and they will, in turn, take care of you.”
Tierra Smith contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.