What Kind of Leader are You?
We’ve determined that the more styles a leader exhibits, the better. Leaders who have mastered four or more—especially the authoritative, democratic, affiliative and coaching styles—garner the very best results. And the most effective leaders switch flexibly among the leadership styles as needed.
Very few leaders possess all six styles. In fact, the most common responses to these findings have been, “But I have only two of those!”
It’s important that a leader understand He/She can learn new styles. To do so, He/she must first understand which emotional intelligence competencies underlie the leadership styles He/she is lacking. She can then work to increase her aptitude for those.
For instance, an affiliative leader has a high capacity for empathy. Empathy—sensing how people are feeling—allows the affiliative leader to respond to employees in a way that aligns with that person’s emotions, thus building a bond.
So if you are a pacesetting leader who wants to use the affiliative style more often, be mindful of situations in which you lack empathy and hone your communication skills to improve your relationships.
Truly effective leader’s use these styles interchangeably, the right one at just the right time and in the right measure. Expand your repertoire and you’ll see: The payoff is in the results.
Authoritative leaders mobilize people toward a vision. When a nationwide fast food chain struggled with plummeting sales, its vice president of marketing turned the story around by rewriting the company’s mission statement to focus on customer convenience.
With a clear vision, local managers started acting like entrepreneurs, opening new, successful branches in ingenious locations: busy street corners, airports and hotel lobbies.
The research indicates that of the six leadership styles, the authoritative one is most effective. By framing the individual tasks within a grand vision, the authoritative leader defines standards that revolve around that vision. The standards for success are clear to all, as are the rewards.
The approach, however, can fail when a leader is working with a team of peers who are more experienced than he is. They may see the leader as pompous.
A coaching leader helps employees identify their unique strengths and weaknesses, and ties them to their personal and career aspirations. These leaders are willing to put up with short-term failure if it furthers long-term learning.
Of the six styles, our research found that the coaching style is used least often. Many leaders told us they don’t have the time. But leaders who ignore this style are passing up a powerful tool; its impact on climate and performance are markedly positive.
By contrast, the coaching style makes little sense when employees are resistant to learning. And it fails if the leader lacks the expertise to help the employee along.