All leaders reflect a certain style or behavioural profile from which others begin to describe them. Some are directive and take bold action, others are charismatic and engaging collaborators, others are more methodical and circumspect, while others are agreeable and people focused. Spring is as a good time as any to revisit your leadership style and review how you may be projecting your leadership behaviors.
A leader is involved in three broad areas of work: crafting a vision, influencing others to align with that vision, and championing its execution. Understanding the link between your leadership style and the work you do as a leader will help you adjust to the differing circumstances each of these three areas bring. Let's take a brief look at the four leadership styles.
The Directive Leader: The directive leader is action oriented and moves people to get things done. The danger signs exhibited by an overly directive leader is impatience, insensitivity and lack of concern for others. In their haste in getting things done this type of leader may tend to override others, and blame others because things are not going fast enough. Directive leaders may also push people to the extent that they feel high levels of anxiety and stress which may result in a reduction of overall productivity. Directive leaders can craft bold and dynamic visions but may have difficulty in bringing others in alignment with that vision and miss the nuances that are important when working with people as they execute the vision.
The Analytical Leader: These leaders like to delve into detail, and sometimes have difficulty seeing the forest for the trees. They may have a hard time articulating a vision because they see too many options and as a result may have a tendency to constantly change direction. Analytical leaders are usually cautious and like to think things through. However, their tendency to be methodical and attention to detail may give the impression that their vision is the 'only one" and the "right" one. They enjoy the intellectual challenge of crafting a vision and engaging others in aligning the vision. However, they may fall short in overseeing the execution of the plan because they may pay too much attention to detail or procrastinate too long.
The Fitting-in Leader: A third leadership profile sees leaders wanting to fit in with the group or team. They are usually friendly, supportive, collaborative and prone to build stable environments. Their vision is one of a calm organization where people are collaboratively working together in a cooperative environment. Alignment around the vision is key for them and they work hard to harmonize differing points of view so that there is a consistent and an aligned direction. They also seek a collaborative and coordinated effort in the execution of the plan. The watch-phrases for these types of leaders are over accommodating, maintaining stability when flexibility is required and fearing ambiguity and risk when action is necessary.
The Outgoing Leader: This type of leader is one who is outgoing, relational and highly communicative. This leader likes to network, work the phone, bring people together both socially and corporately. They are usually excellent at influencing others and selling ideas. They have a certain charm and enthusiasm about them and exhibit a sense of optimism. They can also be impulsive and disorganized. They are expansive visionaries, and tend to enthusiastically influence others to buy into their vision and excel in keeping others abreast as the plan moves to execution. Their strength ensures high levels of communication but their weaker tendencies could cause disorganization especially if they act impulsively.
Can you identify the leadership tendencies in Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau, Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, George W Bush, Pope Francis, Angela Merkel, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton? Each has a predominate style that reflects the profiles outlined above. If you can pick out the style of these leaders you can see it in others as well as your own.
There is no right or wrong leadership style. The leader goes amiss when he or she pushes the extremities of the style as when the directive leader becomes over dictatorial, the analytical leader becomes paralyzed in analysis, the fit-in leader becomes part of the group rather than the leader of the group, or the out-going leader becomes too friendly or overly impulsive.
The good news is that most leaders have qualities which reflect several of the behaviors identified in each of the profiles above. They are a composite, yet a predominant profile emerges whether that be directive and dictatorial, relational and communicative, quiet and collaborative, or cautious and analytical.
All strong leaders have a sense of confidence, know themselves well and use their strengths to advance their vision, align others around that vision and execute the vision through others while exercising their predominant profile.
Questions to Ponder: As you move into spring is it time to think about your approach to leadership; how do you tend to lead? Can you identify with one of the profiles above? What strengths and weaknesses do you bring to your organization? What quirks do you need to watch out for? What modifications do you need to make in your approach? Do you use your leadership style to meet others' needs, or do you use it to meet your own needs?
If you want to learn more about assessing you leadership profile let us know.