Effective leadership is the backbone of all well-run businesses. When you get it right at the top, it spreads throughout the organization. So what exactly is getting it right? Does it depend solely on skills you are taught, is it innate, or a combination of a few things? Our friends over at Smart Hustle Magazine did a little research about this very thing. They’ve even put together a guide that answers the question: What Kind of Leader Are You?
Psychologists and researchers have long understood that there are many effective leadership styles, with no single style being perceived as the “best” way to lead a team. While important leadership skills are generally the same across every business leader (such as confidence, communication, creativity and the ability to delegate,) how a person uses those skills to interact with and guide their team makes up their individual leadership style.
Small business owners take on the role of ‘leader’ by default. No one person can do it all, so along the way, every small business owner leads a team now and then, whether it is managers and employees or independent contractors and freelancers.
Psychologists have been studying effective leadership styles for decades and there could be as many as 20 (or more) business leadership styles. Today we will review a recent and popular leadership classification system which hypothesizes that there are six possible leadership styles. What kind of leader are you? Get your answer by checking out the information below to see which description sounds most like you.
Emotional Leadership Styles
Psychologist Daniel Goleman (who popularized the concept of “emotional intelligence”) created this set of leadership styles with coauthors Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee in a 2002 book called Primal Leadership. They call it the ‘emotional’ leadership styles because each style of effective leadership uses a different method of leading a team – which then effects the emotions of the individual team members. They are:
- Visionary – This type of leader targets the goal and direction for the business without as much thought put into how the business will get there. They inspire their team toward that common goal, while letting individual team members figure out the ‘how’ through innovation and experimentation. This encourages creativity but, by not having a firm plan, it can also be difficult for the business to succeed.
- Coaching – The coaching leadership style puts an emphasis on developing individual team member so they can improve performance and reach their goals within the business. This can be perceived as encouraging and motivating by some employees, or micromanaging by others.
- Affirmative – A person with this effective leadership style draws attention to the importance of the team as a unit. They try to connect people, encourage teamwork, and create harmony within the group. The style can improve relationships and communications within the business, but if taken too far, poor individual performances can also go uncorrected.
- Democratic – This type of leader values the input from all team members and moves the business along by capitalizing on each person’s skills, knowledge and experience. When decisions are made, each member of the group can weigh in. This is helpful if the business is at a fork in the road where the path is unclear, but it can slow the decision-making process on issues that need a quick decision.
- Pacesetting – People who favor this effective leadership style are focused on high productivity, efficiency and performance. They set high standards for themselves and hold these standards to the team as well. Although effective with some employees, it may result in low morale in others with the feeling that they can’t live up to expectations.
- Commanding – This leadership style most resembles our ideas of classic military leadership. The business owner (and perhaps the highest level executives) are the only ones in charge of decision making and employees are told what to do without getting a say in the job or the business. In a crisis when decisions need to be made quickly, this leadership style can be effective; however, it can also demoralize workers and lead to low job satisfaction.
So what kind of leader are you? Did you have a hard time choosing just one of the effective leadership styles above? That’s an excellent sign! It may indicate that you have the potential to become a great business leader.
You see, each of the effective leadership styles has positives but also drawbacks, and they tend to work best in some situations and not others. A great leader knows that they must adapt their leadership style to the circumstances. Therefore, they know when and how to use each style to their advantage.
In your business, you should explore all six of these effective leadership styles to improve your effectiveness. Identify your strongest styles and test the others in order to become a well-rounded leader. In the end, when we asked “What kind of leader are you?” it was kind of a trick question. The better question to ask, in any given situation, is: “What kind of leader does my team need me to be right now?”