IS YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLIN’ AND PROFILIN’?
As an 80’s kid and lifelong wrasslin’fan, one person comes to mind when someone says the word style and it’s not Giorgio Armani. It’s Legendary wrestler Ric Flair’s who is most famously quoted as saying, “I’m Rick Flair! The Stylin’, profilin’, limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin’ n’ dealin’ son of a gun!”Now I know you might think, “how strange”, to start an article about leadership off with a quote from a sports entertainer! You may be right, but I don’t care. It’s my blog and I like wresting references and metaphors.
My point in bringing up The Nature Boy’s quote is that he is known as a leader and pioneer at what he did. He is a living legend. Why? Because he was acutely in touch with how he needed to leverage his talents, skills, desires, experience and character in a way that aligned with his personal style. There are countless other leaders out there who have done the same thing in different ways and in different industries but the formula was the same. Understand ‘who you are’ and leverage the hell out of that. Don’t try to be someone else, be you!
I mean think about this for a second, great leaders can step into any situation and construct a vision for a better future, brainstorm strategies for realizing that future and execute a plan to see it to fruition. But the best of the best, the 1% club leaders take it a step further by understanding their strengths and weaknesses and learning to practice the leadership style that best suits them and their team, allowing them to accomplish more, drive mega change and create a legacy that extends beyond their lifetime. The become living legends or at least legends.
So how does all this apply to you? Great question!
Discovering and understanding the leadership style best suited for your specific personality type will not only make you a much more effective leader, but it will help you better understand who you are and how you work. You’ll learn about your strongest qualities and therefore be able to refine and maximize them, while also becoming more aware of the qualities that you need to work on in order to be the best version of yourself you can be.
Most leaders fall into one of six different leadership styles: Democratic, Visionary, Coaching, Affiliative, Pacesetting and Commanding. This list was first developed by EQ founding father Daniel Goleman and is now trusted as the ‘go to’ list when evaluating leadership styles. It’s important to keep in mind that just because you feel more naturally inclined to a certain style doesn’t mean you can’t jump around to another one if the situation calls for it. Some types of leadership styles are more effective for a particular set of challenges than others, so don’t be afraid to pull from another style if you feel it will help your cause. Curious as to which style of leadership most speaks to your personality? We’ll explain the six types of leadership in more detail so you can identify which one resonates with you.
DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP STYLE
A Democratic leader is one who places high value on the diverse skills, qualities and knowledge base of a group, team or organization. He or she will work to cultivate consensus within the group by consistently asking for input from members around them. Doing so will tap into the collaborative wisdom the group has to offer in order to discover the next best step, and allow others to develop confidence in the leader.
Politicians, regardless of their party affiliations, are, theoretically, participative leaders in that the decisions they make are heavily informed by the thoughts, opinions and desires of their constituents. At least that’s how it should be! This is a very collaboration-heavy leadership style that makes for effective long-term planning. Nelson Mandela takes the cake here with ease. Words cannot describe what an amazing man and leader he was.
That said, this style of leadership is not the best approach in a time of emergency or crisis as it becomes ultra-time-consuming compared to some other styles.
VISIONARY LEADERSHIP STYLE
Visionary leaders are at their best when it comes to finding new directions and new potential solutions to a given problem. This type of leader relies on abstract thinking and can more easily see possibilities that many others aren’t yet able to see. They’re “big picture” thinkers who can see future potential, hidden potential, latent potential and articulate it to the group. They tend to be passionate and open-minded and are most effective at inspiring forward momentum. They love new territory and new adventures.
Elon Musk is a quintessential visionary leader. Known for his big ideas and his knack for innovation, he’s infamous for being able to envision a future that’s yet to exist, as seen through his groundbreaking businesses.
A Visionary will be able to come up with new goals and ideas, but they’re likely to enlist others to plan how to achieve those goals as they typically don’t like to be bothered with minute details.
AFFILIATIVE LEADERSHIP STYLE
First described by Daniel Goleman in 2002 as one of his six leadership styles the Affiliative leader places high emphasis on a “team first” approach. This type of style focuses on building trust within the group and creating emotional bonds that will promote a sense of belonging to the organization. Affiliative leaders are particularly effective in times of stress or when group morale is low. They have a knack for repairing broken trust in an organization, improving communication and fostering a sense of team harmony. They possess a high EQ and create a ton of connectivity within their teams. Former New York Yankees Manager Joe Torre is a perfect example of this style.
Praise and encouragement are very important in an affiliative group setting, but it’s critical that affiliative leaders make sure not to let poor performances go unaddressed. They sometimes run the risk of overlooking issues in order to make others happy.
COACHING LEADERSHIP STYLE
A coach leader is one who spends a great deal of time and energy on the individuals in a given group. They work diligently on cultivating deep connections that allow for a more thorough understanding of an individual’s hopes, beliefs, dreams and values. They will direct and guide others based on what influences their deepest desires, and deliberately work to cultivate a positive environment where encouragement and communication can flow freely. Don’t mistake this with a cheerleader style. Coaches will leverage that close understanding of relationship to get the most out of their people and drive them to unimaginable heights. I mean I would have to put my man Tony Robbins in this category, although he is far more than that but when I think of coaches he is the pinnacle.
While this is an incredibly effective style of leadership, it does run the risk of making others feel as though they’re being micromanaged. Because of their intimacy with the team members and strong attachment to the end result they can dig into details quite easily.
PACESETTING LEADERSHIP STYLE
A pacesetting leader is one who leads by example. They set and live by high standards for themselves in the hope that others will follow their example. This is a good choice for groups that consist of self-motivated, high-performing people who are dedicated to improvement.
Jack Welch was a great example of this style of leadership. Jack believed that leaders should avoid micro-managing, and spend their time inspiring others. He was a firm believer in leading by example, which is a characteristic of the pacesetting leadership style. He championed what he termed the four E’s of leadership: energy, energize, edge, and execution
However, this style can become problematic for those who require a lot of detailed guidance as it often comes with an expectation that folks should already be able to see what to do, as the leader would. It can also create an environment where individuals in the group might feel they’re being pushed too hard by a leader whose standards don’t mirror their own.
COMMANDING LEADERSHIP STYLE
A commanding leader is the kind of leader we most often see in movies and read about in books. They approach leadership with an attitude of “do as I say because I’m the boss,” giving directives and expecting others to follow suit without question. This is a very effective style in times of crisis when quick decisions need to be made. It’s a survival style of leadership. Issue here is survival mode isn’t meant to last forever. This type of leader does best when placed in highly intense, struggling situations that need a ton of immediate, resolution. They have short timelines to get there and love it. I let the American Historians argue over Douglas MacAuthur and George Patton here as to who wins.
The other end of the stick here is that long-term usage of this style can undercut morale and job satisfaction as it often leaves group members feeling as though they have very little say or influence in the group’s direction and goals. It can create a ton or attrition and burn out!
THERE ISN’T ONE RIGHT ANSWER
It’s important to keep in mind that there is no “one-size-fits-all” leadership style. Every situation can be different and different situations call for different approaches depending on the needs and challenges of the moment. Sometimes, a problem is best solved by combining different types of leadership styles. For example, when faced with planning a business’ next steps, it’s common for CEOs of major companies to be visionaries, coaches and democratic leaders all in one. The greatest leaders are able to tap into all these when the time is right to get the result the situation is calling for.
They’ll cultivate a community by fostering meaningful connections (coaching) that make its members feel comfortable collaborating (democratic), and utilize the resulting strength to carry out the vision in their mind’s eye (visionary). So, when contemplating solutions, be mindful of the different strengths and weaknesses within these leadership styles and explore whether combining two, three or even four can help you achieve your goals.
I would approach this exercise much like I would the ‘core human needs’ exercise. Take an honest look at yourself and rate yourself on each one. Look at your most successful times and ask yourself, what type of leader was I being in that situation? What feelings did that give me? How can I find leadership opportunities that call for more of the style I enjoy most?
Lead & Live Exceptionally!