Have you recently taken time out to assess your leadership style? How effective would you like it to be? From working with a number of leaders in a variety of sectors with research and experience, it has become clear that these processes have evolved and have a strong impact on performance.
In this article, we will look at the leadership styles that work in corporate and non-corporate spaces, how to assess yourself as a leader and how to grow at any given stage with the type of leadership you have chosen. There are many ways to lead people as seen from the days of Martin Luther King to Steve Jobs and Barack Obama. As Les Brown notes, “There’s no such thing as a natural born heart surgeon. It’s a skill that must be learned and practised.” Like heart surgeons, great leaders are not born. They are created through hard work and focused learning. What makes a great leader is not their title or necessarily their personality but their ability to influence those around them positively.
Leadership is about being passionate about what you do, having the courage to make the hard and challenging decisions and following through to make things happen. Good leadership makes room for failure and learning; it makes room for improvements and sustainable partnerships. At the end of the day, the general goal of every leader rightly said in the words of Warren Bennis is that, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” A great part of leadership is dependent on the practical skills you possess of the job. But more importantly are the soft traits, and parts of these soft skills include the ability of a leader to be discerning in dicey situations, to understand the motivations of people, to appreciate the effect of perceptions in an organisation and to master and skillfully use the art and science of influence. Effective leaders are able to switch and adjust between one or more leadership styles depending on the situation.
According to recent studies, only 21% of companies said that their organisation’s leadership practices were very effective. This is a real problem, given that 62% of the most successful companies identify effective leadership as the most important factor in improving an organisation’s agility. It is obvious that leadership plays a significant role in the success or failure of any organisation.
However, there is no single, correct way for leaders to direct their subordinates. Each leader must instead develop a specific leadership style unique to their personality and circumstance (Sales Force). For any leadership style to work, one must be significantly aware of the workings of their internal make-up and mindset. Usually, what goes on internally reflects externally. There is no perfect leadership style. Studying your personality, beliefs, strengths and weaknesses, likes, dislikes, temperament and such, will help you identify one or two leadership styles you can leverage to effectively lead. The three most common types of leadership are the autocratic type, the democratic type and the laissez- faire type.
In autocratic leadership, the leader is truly the boss. There is very little to no flexibility and the word of the leader is always final. Policies, guidelines and instructions are received and met out without resistance from the followers. Even though a vast majority of people dislike this type of leadership there are a few advantages to this style. For instance, autocratic leaders can quickly decide upon and implement responses without having to gain the support of the rest of the team in an emergency situation. Also, the discrepancies and back and forth arguments before decisions are made are avoided, reducing friction in the team. Unfortunately, this form of leadership restricts the amount of creative inputs that could possibly come from a team. Aside the resentments that could be brewed in the organisation or team, nothing productive really comes out of a ruling based on instilling fear in the people.
In the democratic leadership style, subordinates are involved in making decisions. Unlike autocratic leadership, this headship is centred on subordinates’ contributions.
The democratic leader holds final responsibility but he or she is known to delegate authority to other people, who determine work projects.
The most unique feature of this leadership is that, communication is active both upward and downward. With respect to statistics, democratic leadership is one of the most preferred leadership, and it entails the following: fairness, competence, creativity, courage, intelligence and honesty (wisetoast.com). Democratic leadership works well for leaders who value flexibility and adaptation.
Democracy in leadership is often most effective when a leader is working with highly skilled or experienced workers. It allows the leader to capitalise on their employees’ individual talents and strengths, while also benefiting from the power of the whole.
It is best employed in cases where the department or business is looking to implement operational changes or when a leader or manager is attempting to resolve problems either individually or within the group. (Surenda Jakhar) The downside in this method is that decisions may not be made quickly, especially in the case of emergencies. Subordinates may also tend to poorly adapt to stress.
Laissez-faire leaders are best described as ‘hands-off.’ In essence, they exist to assign tasks to their employees, but once the task has been assigned, and the necessary resources have been provided, these leaders simply cease being involved.
Therefore, it is up to the employees themselves to decide on the best approach in order to fulfill their responsibilities. Laissez-faire leaders put a great amount of faith in their subordinates, trusting them to remain self-motivated, on-task, and accountable.
Laissez-faire leadership allows team members to operate completely free from unnecessary restrictions or inefficient interference from management.
This gives skilled and self-motivated employees a chance to reach their fullest potential. However, without the firm hand of leadership to keep it on track, a team operating under laissez-faire leadership may quickly drop in productivity.
Deadlines may not be reached, crucial steps in the process may be skipped over, and the overall quality of work may suffer due to a lack of guidance.
Although these are the 3 most popular leadership types, leadership should be strategic, visionary and transformational. Leadership is a lot about teaching and coaching your people and creating safe and relaxed spaces for the exchange of cross-cultural ideas.
At every stage the service of your leadership should be adding value to the team. Leadership skills, like any other set of skills take time, patience, and practice. In John Maxwell’s book, ‘The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership’, he talks about the law of process and how leaders develop daily and not in a day. What do you do when given a leadership position? Are you able to use your position effectively to gain the confidence of people who will allow you to lead them? Does your style of leading get things done?
Here are four tips every leader must reflect on and work towards becoming:
The Power of “Present”
Being present is the ability to step out not just to walk into a room and be seen, but to be engaging: to listen actively and being present throughout the entire conversation; not in a rush to answer back thus missing salient points as your mind is working on the answers to give back instead of processing what is being said; being calm instead of panicking but understanding what you are being asked, to be able to respond.
It is important to have the presence of mind and utilise our emotional and social intelligence as leaders in our engagement with people – employees, coworkers, junior staff, family and clients.
The Power of ‘People”
As leaders, we need to be in constant connection with our people skills to enable us to achieve productivity through collaboration. Since no man is an island, we depend on people who can become the pillars we lean on. They are the voices that speak on our behalf, the ones that challenge us and they are the strength of our network. Be sure to factor in how your style of leadership brings people together to achieve positive common outcomes no matter the kind of leader you choose to be.
The Power of “Place”
Your place and position must be flexible as a leader no matter your temperament or nature of doing things. This will enable you to play your role well by being stern or tough where it matters and becoming soft where the instance requires a softer approach.
The Power of “Practice”
To be able to achieve the three preceding points you must make a conscious effort to practice them consistently, for it is only through practice that you become all those qualities and flow naturally and effortlessly in every situation. This will also become a nature and example which your followers will not struggle to associate you with as people pay more attention to what you do than what you say as a leader. Actions it is said, speaks louder than words.
Leadership is not simply about what works for you but about what brings your team together to achieve the right results. Are you ready for that?
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Soft Skills Expert, Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specialising in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Soft Skills Expert and Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group & Allure Africa.
Dzigbordi has been featured on CNN for her entrepreneurial expertise. She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017.
She can be reached on [email protected] and @dzigbordikwaku across all social media platforms.