Finding your leadership style

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Positive conflicts in the workplace
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert

What is good leadership and which leadership style works most efficiently? I get asked these questions on a regular basis. There is no perfect leadership style. In fact, leadership is a fluid practice. We are always changing and improving the way in which we help our direct reports and the company grow.

Certainly, there are different types of Leadership Styles. However, working with a number of leaders in a variety of sectors and with my research and experience it has become clear that these processes have evolved over the years and contribute immensely to the performance of a business.

Very Well Mind defines leadership style as “A leader’s characteristic behaviours when directing, motivating, guiding, and managing groups of people.” Great leaders can inspire political movements and social change. They can also motivate others to perform, create, and innovate. When it comes to leadership styles there are different schools of thought but all streams flow into one river. In this article, we will look at the leadership styles that work, how to assess yourself and how to grow at any stage.

Whether you are a student representative council president, a stay-at-home parent, a mid-level manager, a business start-up entrepreneur or corporate executive, your leadership style has to be the blueprint upon which your organizational culture is fashioned. The moment one walks into your space, your imprint and approach as a leader should be evident in the manner your team and business is being run.

In 1939, a group of researchers led by psychologist Kurt Lewin set out to identify different styles of leadership. While further research has identified more distinct types of leadership, this early study was very influential and established three major leadership styles that have provided a springboard for more defined leadership theories. In Lewin’s study, schoolchildren were assigned to one of three groups with an authoritarian, democratic, or laissez-faire leader. The children were then led in an arts and crafts project while researchers observed the behaviour of children in response to the different styles of leadership. The researchers found that democratic leadership tended to be the most effective at inspiring followers to perform well (Very Well Mind, 2020).

While authoritarian leadership certainly is not the best choice for every situation, it can be effective and beneficial in cases where followers need a great deal of direction and where rules and standards must be followed to the letter. Another often overlooked benefit of the authoritarian style is the ability to maintain a sense of order. Bass and Bass note that democratic leadership tends to be centered on the followers and is an effective approach when trying to maintain relationships with others. People who work under such leaders tend to get along well, support one another, and consult other members of the group when making decisions (Very Well Mind, 2020).

Traditionally, there are four main leadership styles as posited by the psychologist, Kurt Lewin – Authoritarian, Paternalistic, Democratic and Laissez-Faire. These styles have informed many leaders for many decades and teams across the world have been cultured around these leadership approaches.

Nonetheless, the advent of the internet and social media in the 21st Century has played a pivotal role as a disrupter in how businesses and teams are to be led and inspired in order to drive up effectiveness and performance and leadership styles in turn, have had to follow suit.

Sycol outlined 5 main leadership styles tailored for the present times: “The servant leader” is one who truly cares about the needs of their employees. Iconic leaders of nonviolent movements for civil disobedience such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela could all be considered examples of servant leadership. However, millennials have a strong preference for modern servant leaders who take genuine interest in both their professional and personal development, and are willing to become mentors.

“Innovative leaders” are big picture thinkers who are willing to shake things up to achieve the desired outcome. Many of the most iconic and innovative leaders of today are in the tech industry but there are many others across a wide range of industries, from fashion to education. What do innovators have in common? They have no patience for stagnation. They like to take stock of processes, and when something is not working innovators are willing to try new things and find something that does.

“Pacesetters” are visionaries who set the pace not just for their organizations but for the direction of their entire industry. They dream big and inspire those around them to take action to accomplish the seemingly impossible. Where the servant leader focuses more on people development, pace setters are often more demanding in their quest to do things better and faster. Still, the people who thrive most under pacesetters are those who work well under tremendous pressure, are self-motivated, and need little direction for execution on big picture ideas.

“Charismatic Leaders” inspire the people around them to greatness. They have a ‘let’s-do-it-together’ attitude and use the power of personality to inspire passion and action in others. Much like innovators and pacesetters, charismatic leaders are often visionaries; however, sometimes they drop the ball when it comes to execution. These leaders need the balance of others around them who can execute on big ideas and get things done.

“Laissez Faire Leaders” are usually excellent at delegating. They know how to communicate their vision, and prefer to give their teams the tools they need and the space to get it done. Laissez-faire leaders often like to surround themselves with a highly-skilled, self-motivated team they do not have to manage too closely. People who need more guidance and direct mentorship do not usually thrive under this leadership style.

Here are my thoughts on 4 ways that leaders can use to their styles to make impact, grow and develop their followers and teams.

  1. REFLECTION:

Reflection in context will give you the opportunity to be self-aware. Self-awareness gives you clarity and thereby creates a path to enable you to structure your style in a goal-oriented, growth-generating and future-focused way. Put more simply it reveals your strengths and weaknesses and helps you evaluate your values to drop aspects of your personality that are no longer serving you or your style of leadership.

INFUSE YOUR VALUES INTO YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE

When people see your leadership style, they should see your values inherent in them. Our principles and values are the core foundations that color everything we do and how we approach life in general. Your team will invariably pick up on your values and consequently, start reacting to it accordingly.

Be extremely clear on your values and how you want them to inform the manner in which you lead. Not surprisingly, many people nowadays look at the person behind the brand and contemplate whether or not they want to be associated with your value proposition and vision.

Bottom line, the role of leadership is to add value to other people and the only way to do that is to be clear about your own values and principles and find a way to inject them into your approach. When both your person and personality have the ability to connect, it creates a platform of attraction where people want to engage and experience your organization through you.

  1. LEADERSHIP STYLES ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.

To be a great leader you must be nimble and fluid. Always staying on top, pressing the button to keep things fluid. Nevertheless, you will need to also be open to accommodate disruption, change and different points of view from the people closest to you and the people objectively advising you.

When it comes to leadership styles they are definitely not static. You as a leader must be able to pivot, as long as it is alignment with your culture, identity and future focus. With leadership styles the most successful leaders are not the ones who have used not only one style but have utilized the ability to use the hybrid approach. Meaning we pick the strengths of different leadership styles and create a bespoke leadership style that highlights our greatest abilities.

You are human and therefore there will be imperfections. However, with the right tailored leadership style you should be able to express your greatest highlights as a leader, majority of the time.

4. LEADERSHIP IN ACTION

Your leadership style is not created for you but created for the people around you. Ultimately who you are, what you are and most importantly how you are must be of benefit to someone every day.

This mandates you to be consistently and committedly putting your leadership style into action, every day, everywhere and every time. Within a short time of a person meeting you, they should get a clear idea of what your style is. They might not be able to define it completely but they may be able to use keywords in their communication and in their feedback to people that they get you.Remember your leadership style is an expression of you, and your leadership in action will be the only way to make that happen.

The primary recognition of leadership is style. It is not age, background, gender, category or even industry. Inherent in that style is the culture, the brand, and the future. When it comes to creating your leadership style give it the best you have got because it is the make or break for your space!

Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?

Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach

Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing 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 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.

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