There are six distinctive leadership styles, based on Harvard University research that leaders need in their repertoire. The skill is recognizing when to activate, and how to blend or merge the various styles. How do you measure up? Take inventory of your personal leadership styles.
Three long-term styles:
A Visionary style sets standards and monitors performance in relation to the larger vision. Sometimes, a visionary style may be described as inspirational. Consider for a moment how it would feel like to work on a team with no vision.A thorough understanding of the organization’s vision and the skill to articulate it to team members is fundamental to this leadership style:
- Do you know the vision of your company?
- Can you articulate it to your team?
This style complements and combines well with a Visionary style. Because it recognizes teams versus individuals, it can be a challenging environment for achievement-driven team members. This is particularly true when it’s overused; leaders may appear incapable of making a decision without team consensus.
Leaders with a Participative style:
- Hold regular meetings
- Listen to employees’ concerns
- Drill down to the How
- Identify opportunities for positive feedback
- Stress the importance of how employee morale impacts performance
- Avoid performance-related confrontations
A Coaching style is focused on long-term development of team members by providing ongoing instruction, as well as balanced feedback. Leaders with this style are typically very experienced in their roles and as a result, have a high comfort level with delegating. In the best-case scenarios, coaching leaders are prepared to trade off immediate results for long-term development of team members. A willingness to accept short-term failures and disappointments is indispensable for this style. Without this component, the “coach” will be viewed as phony and fake.
Three short-term styles for specific, usually limited application
An Affiliative Style:
- Identifies opportunities for positive feedback
- Stresses the importance of how employee morale impacts performance
- Avoids performance-related confrontations
Although a leader with this style may appear to be supportive and want to be friends with everyone – when overused, these leaders may have a hard time making tough decisions. With time, people may take advantage. Following innumerable chances, opportunities and latitude, when there are disappointing results, this leader may become frustrated – shifting to tight reins and more control.
This style pairs well with both a Visionary style and a Coaching style.
- Is apprehensive about delegating
- Takes away responsibility when high performance is not forthcoming
- Rescues risk-prone situations
Faced with tight deadlines, this can be a very effective style. It can lift spirits and resonates with people who learn by watching. If overused, even the highest achievers may start to decrease their discretionary effort while other less performance-focused team members may feel overwhelmed by the Pacesetter.
This style best reserved for critical situations. The captain of a fire department is a prime example of a leader who must use this style.
The Directive leader:
- Controls tightly
- Explains by directing or commanding
- Motivates by stating the negative consequences of noncompliance
- Offers short-term clarity and action plan
When overused in non-threatening situations, it’s often demotivating; nothing happens without the input of the leader – creating a bottleneck with the team.
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