Different business owners and managers take different approaches to leading. There is no one right way to lead a company, and no leadership style that is superior in every situation. Knowing what your leadership style, along with its strengths and vulnerabilities, can help you anticipate problems and get ahead of conflict.
Identifying Your Leadership Style
The first step to anticipating problems based on your leadership style is to determine what kind of leader you are. Every supervisor, manager, and team leader will gravitate to certain leadership styles based on their personality and position in the company. You can learn more about the various leadership management styles here, but generally, they are:
- Autocratic or authoritarian
- Pace-setting or results-oriented
- Hands-off or Laissez-Faire
- Inspirational or Charismatic
- Strategic or visionary
If you don’t know your leadership style, you can work with a leadership coach to complete a self-assessment to determine where your leadership skills are strongest, and where there is room for growth.
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Anticipating Problems Based on Your Leadership Style
Each leadership type can be vulnerable to different types of problems when employees come under stress. Understanding what those problems might be can help you plan an appropriate and effective response ahead of time, borrowing from other leadership styles when the need arises.
Missing Employee Buy-In
Authoritative and bureaucratic leaders often find it very easy to set goals for their teams and provide structure or procedures for how their employees should operate. But because these leadership styles operate in from top-down perspective, they may not receive input from their teams before making those decisions. This can lead to employees who check out, or just go with the decisions made, without buying in to the bigger picture. This reduces productivity and ultimately can hurt employee retention.
Lack of Forward Progress
Transactional and pace setting leaders are often focused on results. They are often skilled at motivating employees to do specific work and achieve specific benchmarks. However, while they are focused on the details, these leaders can sometimes miss the bigger picture. It can sometimes be easy for people with this leadership style to fall into routines without questioning if a different strategy or goal would serve the company better.
Delayed Decision Making
Democratic, coaching, and hands-off leaders may face the opposite problems. These leaders often operate by empowering their team members to make decisions and provide feedback. That can be great for employee buy-in, but it can also bog down the decision-making process. When quick decisions are needed, these leaders may find it difficult to take decisive action. This can allow small problems to grow and can put deadlines at risk.
Lack of Follow-Through
Transformational, visionary, and inspirational leaders want what is best for their employees and their companies. They often put their teams’ needs first, leading others to develop their own strengths. However, when leaders are focused on the big picture, their vision may lack the necessary details and processes for how employees will get from Point A to Point B. When the next good idea comes along, these leaders may leave necessary work undone in the interests of moving the company forward.
How to Respond When Leadership Styles Cause Problems for Teams
When you realize that your leadership style is creating an obstacle for your employees you have a few options depending on your timeline, the size of your company, and the severity of the problem at hand.
Borrow Tactics from Other Leadership Styles
The quickest solution to problems based on leadership styles is to temporarily borrow from another style. For example, if you are a democratic leader and your team is at loggerheads, you can borrow from an authoritative style to make an executive decision and move the team forward. When doing so, it is wise to acknowledge a deviation from the normal processes, and maybe plan to revisit the decision once the crisis has passed.
Delegate Leadership or Restructure Teams
If your style of leadership is creating a problem for specific employees or a specific task, it may be wise to remove yourself from the equation. Consider delegating team management to another employee or making a team member with a different style the leader for a specific task. This can empower your team and resolve the problem, while also maintaining consistency in your leadership style.
Get Outside Help
If your leadership style is repeatedly creating conflict with your team, you may want to develop different leadership skills. Adopting different strategies and training in different leadership methods can improve your team’s cohesion and avoid organizational dysfunction. By training with a leadership coach, you can learn to adjust your leadership style to suit your working environment, making you better able to adapt when the need arises.
David Stanislaw is an organizational development specialist with over 25 years’ experience helping business owners and managers develop leadership skills to drive their businesses and lead their employees through one-on-one executive coaching. Contact us to meet with David and advance your professional development today.