A good business leader will want to be successful, be profitable, and do right by their employees. They may find themselves wondering how to best go about accomplishing these professional goals. There’s a lot of research and reading material available about individual leadership styles. Some people will naturally find they are more comfortable defining themselves with one particular style, especially if their existing strengths are aligned with it. Others might look to leadership styles for inspiration, trying to emulate the leaders who inspire them or adopt the persona which they believe would best work for themselves and their team.
The reality is that no one person will ever fit exactly with the description, skills, and strengths of any one leadership style, nor should they try to. Limited thinking, such as imitating only one leadership style, creates a stagnant environment. It limits growth, creativity, and agility.
The difference between a leader and a manager.
Before we dive in to looking at effective leadership styles, let’s clear the air on one thing. Often, leaders and manager are viewed interchangeably. While it is often true that one person can be both a manager and a leader, there are significant differences between the two roles.
|Leaders are visionaries looking to strategically assess creative ideas and implement large scale change.
|Managers focus more on the day-to-day oversight, ensuring objectives are accomplished and employees are accountable.
|Leaders are continual learners, constantly trying to think outside of the box and explore new ideas. They encourage their team to do the same because they know the advanced knowledge and varying perspectives of others are a valuable resource for continued growth and advancement.
|Managers pay attention to the daily execution of operations. They can redirect or correct actions when needed, helping employees stay on track to meet organizational goals.
|Leaders are observant, always aware of all aspects of the business – financials, operations, culture, and industry trends.
|Managers’ access to information is usually limited to the department in which they work. This gives them the advantage of having specialized knowledge of the work and close relationships with the team. They are in a great position to serve as mentors, encouraging and assisting employees to reach new professional growth.
What makes a leader effective?
Effective leaders come in all shapes and sizes. One might be tempted to find a style of leading that works for them and stick with it. But that seems counter-intuitive to what makes a leader truly a leader. One style may not work for all situations. One style may go stagnant, decreasing creativity and flexibility. The workplace culture might change causing that leadership style to no longer be effective. If a leader plateaus, the business will quickly follow suit.
It is much better for leaders to learn and understand many different styles, balance and combine them as needed, and maintain the ability to work in a variety of situations. There are four leadership styles we believe are worth learning and combining:
- Democratic Leadership. The democratic leader solicits ideas for the team and encourages creativity, but ultimately makes the final decisions.
- Transformational Leadership. Similar to the democratic leadership style, transformational leaders encourage team members to come up with creative ideas and solutions for problems they experience. Team members are then granted the authority to make decisions and own them.
- Empathetic Leadership. Empathetic leaders are highly tuned in to their employees’ unique needs, preferences, and work styles. They are able to see beyond their own ideas when considering a new direction or opportunity.
- Servant Leadership. Leaders who follow the servant leadership style put their employees first. They are committed to develop and improve team members while positively contributing to society.
Understanding each style leaders to apply specific tactics and strategies to different situations as necessary. No decision making or opportunity to lead is black and white. Each will exist with varying complexity, requiring flexibility in how leaders react and behave.
Good leaders have certain skills which make them capable to practice leadership:
On top of these skills, good leaders must have three other traits. First, a thorough personal comprehension. Second, a passion for creating, planning, innovation, and improvement. Third, an ability to maintain structure while remaining agile and prepared for change.
Are leaders born, or can they be developed?
The answer is yes, and yes. Some people naturally have qualities and personalities enabling them to transition into leadership more easily. But the skills and traits necessary for leadership can be taught. So long as the individual is willing to put in the work and truly aspires to make a difference, one can become a leader.
How to attract leaders to your business.
Leaders can be found at all levels of a business, not just in the C-Suite. The same skills and traits necessary for leaders can prove fruitful for ideas and innovations from employees who possess them. Getting people with leadership qualities to work for your business requires a business model and culture that will make them want to work there.
Strategy. Have a solid strategy for how things are done and when.
Visionary. Be a visionary and be proactive.
Continual Learning. Everyone who works for the business should be encouraged to continually research and be engaged in learning activities.
Agility. Remain agile but still have processes and procedures in place.
Change. Harness continual change and create nimble working environments capable of adaptation and evolutions.
Receptive. Be willing to receive ideas and feedback in order to improve.
By combining leadership styles and creating an attractive workplace culture and environment, business leaders can help their businesses profit and maintain sustainability. The innovations and creative answers developed as a result will keep your business capable of evolving and relevant among constant change.