Like people, leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Some leaders take charge, others sit back and let the team flow. Some leaders listen while other demand. Some like to problem-solve, while others like to take action. There are a wide variety of leadership styles, each with varying levels of effectiveness, and everyone has their own unique style or combination of styles that work for them.
Tony Robbins and plenty of other authors and speakers preach all the time about the Qualities of a Highly Effective Leader, but how do you know what style works for you? For those who have never thought about it, knowing your unique leadership style or style combo can take the way you interact with your team to a dynamic new level.
In order to find your perfect style, there are a few things to take into account. First, let’s take a look at a few different styles of leadership, their traits, pros, and cons.
Traits: Asks the opinion of others, open to new ideas, includes all team members in decision-making, genuinely interested in finding a mutually beneficial solution.
Pros: Gives all team members a sense of importance and belonging, creates a balance in the team dynamic, allows development of a variety of ideas and concepts, can lead to a group consensus.
Cons: Can take longer to make decisions, may be indecisive, may not be seen as an authoritative role if they give team members too much say
When to Use It: When making group decisions that may critically affect multiple team members.
Traits: Doesn’t pay attention the opinions of the team, makes decisions on their own, rejects input instead of inviting it, authoritative and commanding
Pros: Can make decisions quickly, often self-reliant and self-assured, confident in their ability, able to problem-solve without extraneous stress
Cons: Does not include the team in decision making, can be seen as cold or cruel, carries the full weight of every decision alone, only allows for a single way of thinking, can often lack innovation or new ideas
When to Use It: When a quick decision needs to be made or when team members are split/feuding.
Traits: Lets individual team members manage their own projects with little interference, watches from afar but still manages, checks-in regularly but doesn’t micromanage,
Pros: Allows team members to take ownership and authority, creates a sense of pride for individuals in their tasks, enables the leader to focus on their own tasks, encourages all team members to problem-solve for themselves
Cons: Can lead to mistakes by inexperienced team members that later need to be corrected, may create a sense of apathy and nonchalance, may make the leader seem distant and uninterested
When to Use It: When a leader has a trusted, diverse team of highly-specialized members that have the confidence and experience to work unsupervised.
Traits:Takes the brunt of executive and operational duties, creates a stable environment for the entire team, acts as an intermediary so team members don’t have to worry about issues that do not pertain to their tasks, supports all team members at once to maintain a positive work environment for the team.
Pros: Allows the team to work stress-free, can be seen as a positive role model, can juggle many tasks from many directions at once, multi-talented, can delegate and assign tasks as necessary, is familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the team.
Cons: Often may bite off more than they can chew, may become overwhelmed with the constant needs of the many, may tend to overwork themself
When to Use It: When you have a team that lacks formal experience and needs time to learn the ropes
Traits: Constantly striving for innovation, pushes employees out of their comfort zone and into new territory, encourages new ideas and development, always seeking the “next big thing”
Pros: Idea-oriented, future-oriented, helps team members grow as individuals and as future experts, constantly reaches for mutual growth in the team and the organization
Cons: May lose sight of the “now,” can be too idealistic in their aspirations, may push team members into an area of legitimate discomfort and inability.
When to Use It: When looking to expand, grow, or create new ideas within your group or organization.
Traits: Very diplomatic in their approach, quid pro quo, doesn’t give more than deserved but also doesn’t short-change those who work hard, can be stern, keeps all team members in their role
Pros: Rewards team members fairly for the work they do, encourages all team members to work hard and push themselves, very straight-laced and straight-forward in their approach
Cons: Can come across as demanding or too harsh, may impede teamwork and necessary collaboration
When to Use It: When you need to strictly define roles and risk/reward systems for your team
Traits: Wants their hands in everything, very quick to ask for a copy or a draft, tends to review all materials before finalizing, checks-in consistently for updates and revisions
Pros: Knowledgeable of everything the team is doing, is able to aid in all tasks, can give input to all team members, always willing to help.
Cons: Can delay the process with constant micromanaging, bottlenecks development, can be critical of team members’ ideas, doesn’t allow for team members to grow organically
When to Use It: When working with a large group of inexperienced team members that need guidance and input.
Traits: Encouraging, light-hearted, seeks to find and bring out the best in all team members, leads by example and is the paragon of the individual they seek to create.
Pros: Easily motivates the team, acts as a positive role model, gets to know the team, is very hands-on with group development, takes an active position in leading the team to mutual positive growth
Cons: Can be too idealistic, may only see the strengths in the team they want to see instead of the potential a team member actually has, can be overly-confident and full of themself
When to Use It: When dealing with teams that need individual growth to push towards group success.