Leaders are inspiring people who have the power to influence and steer teams and employees toward a shared vision. They use their unique qualities to encourage growth, promote collaboration, and drive positive change within an organization or wherever they may be.
However, becoming a successful leader requires work. You do not simply become a leader that everybody looks up to overnight. You need to put in the effort and time to work on yourself and hone your skills.
One of the things you need to do to achieve this is to determine your leadership style. There are several types of leadership styles that can differently impact a company or organization.
What is a Leadership Style?
A leadership style refers to a leader's approach to decision-making, communication, and motivation within an institution. It reflects their unique blend of traits, behaviors, and values, which guide how they lead, inspire, and manage others toward achieving a shared goal and fostering a cohesive and productive environment.
Why Is It Important to Identify Your Leadership Style
One of the greatest advantages of determining your leadership style is having the opportunity to play to your strengths. When you know what kind of leader you are, you can choose how to approach a certain project or problem that matches your leadership style. You can also identify specific aspects and skills that you need to improve further.
There are different kinds of leadership styles that you may fall under. Here are the most common ones:
Transformational leaders are committed to effecting change and inspiring transformation in a team or organization. They do this by creating unity, developing connections, promoting energy, and inspiring people in a group. This type of leadership is effective in bringing people together and encouraging them to work towards a shared goal, such as capturing more leads, closing more clients, or increasing revenue.
Also referred to as laissez-faire, delegative leadership is characterized by a leader’s delegation of tasks and initiatives to team members. Instead of being involved in every part of the process, delegative leaders allow their employees to figure things out on their own and use their creativity, skills, and resources to overcome obstacles. However, a delegative leader needs competent members and people who take responsibility for their work in order to succeed.
Leaders who adopt this style are more a mentor to their team members. They treat their employees as followers and motivate and inspire them. Authoritative leaders are also committed to learning more about their team members, allowing them to guide every individual and provide feedback that resonates with the employee.
Transactional leaders focus on structure within the workplace and often use rewards and punishments to motivate and discipline their team members. They practice a give-and-take system to encourage employees to follow established routines and processes and work towards achieving a shared goal. Unlike the other types of leadership styles, transactional leadership doesn’t dabble into transformational changes within the organization.
Participative leadership is a type of democratic leadership that involves employees in the decision-making process. Adopting this type of leadership can lead to a more collaborative environment, where employees collectively identify obstacles and work together to solve them.
How to Determine Your Leadership Style
Maximize your potential as a leader by identifying your leadership style and playing to your strengths. Here’s how you can achieve this:
Assess Your Personality
It’s essential to understand your personality to determine your leadership style. Make sure to evaluate your dominant characteristics and observe how they manifest in different environments. You should also assess how your personality affects your decision-making and strategy-making.
To make this step easier, you can also consider how your colleagues often describe you. How do they describe your personality? Do they see you as naturally extroverted and assertive or introverted and empathetic?
Identify Your Core Values
Core values are the moral compass that guides your decisions and actions. Determine what principles are most important to you—integrity, innovation, teamwork, etc. Your leadership style should align with these values, ensuring authenticity and a strong foundation for leading others.
List Your Weaknesses
To become a truly effective leader, you should learn about your weaknesses and understand how they can affect your leadership role. Doing so allows you to know where you can improve and gives you more room for growth.
Recognize areas where you struggle—communication, time management, decisiveness. You can then tailor your leadership style to mitigate these challenges as you work on them.
Take a Leadership Style Assessment
Various leadership assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or DiSC assessment, offer insights into your leadership tendencies and digital mindset.
These tools provide valuable insights into your communication preferences, decision-making styles, and how you handle conflict.
While no assessment is definitive, they serve as useful starting points for self-discovery. You can use the results you get to eliminate other leadership styles that don’t fit your personality and skills.
Ask for Input
Seeking feedback from colleagues, mentors, and team members is invaluable. Their perspectives offer an external view of your leadership style, highlighting blind spots and areas of strength. You can use their constructive criticism and praise to help you refine and develop your approach to achieve your team’s shared goal and increase team productivity.
Evaluate Your Delegation Skills
Effective delegation is a hallmark of strong leadership. Being able to let go and trust your members on things outside your expertise can help you bring your team closer to success.
Reflect on how you distribute tasks, trust team members, and ensure accountability. Finding the right balance between micromanagement and complete autonomy is crucial in shaping your leadership style.
Consider Your Leaders
Reflect on leaders you admire, whether historical figures, mentors, or colleagues. Analyze what aspects of their leadership resonate with you and why. Their qualities can inspire your own style, while also helping you understand the types of leadership that align with your values and goals.
Synthesize Your Findings
After gathering insights from personality assessments, feedback, and personal reflection, synthesize your discoveries. Define your leadership style, incorporating your strengths, values, and aspirations.
Adapt and Evolve
Leadership is not static—it adapts to circumstances and growth. Continuously reassess your leadership style as you encounter new challenges, take on different roles, and refine your skills. Flexibility and openness to change enable you to become a more effective and influential leader over time.
Become the Leader You Want to Be
Once you determine your leadership style, you can begin honing your skills and working on your weaknesses. By doing so, you can become a well-rounded leader who can adapt to any kind of workplace environment and lead different teams to success.