How you can make the most of differing leadership styles
Being dominant, decisive and results-focused may be your default style at work, but you need to learn when it will help and when it will hinder
In large and small organisations, you and your colleagues are most likely defined by the department you belong to. You might be in sales, IT, marketing, or whatever. They're the safe descriptions of you that your colleagues don't mind saying in public.
But do you know how you are defined in private? Are you fast-moving and very direct? Are you a loyal and great team player? Do you slow things down by being very analytical? Or are you the bubbly and chatty one?
When you are faced with different scenarios, such as problem-solving, in a sales call, or in a meeting, your default preferred style is never far from the surface. Unless you are very aware and have a high level of emotional intelligence, your own inherent social style will drive your behaviour.
And it's your behaviour that impacts others, either positively or negatively.
Lorraine Sweeney, from Cerese Solutions, supports individuals and teams to help them maximise their team performance.
"When teams reach peak performance, there is less energy spent on debating the politics and intentions of various players and much more on the work at hand," she said. "But that requires a level of trust that comes from a better understanding of each other's style and motivation."
Your Preferred Social Style and its Impact on your Behaviour
Let me start by saying there is no such thing as a right or wrong style. However, in given situations, some styles help to achieve an effective result and others can inhibit it.
For example, let's say your primary style is to be dominant, decisive and results-focused in every situation. That might be perfect in a crisis but not if you're trying to coach one of your team.
In summary, there are four main styles, determined on one axis by the extent of your level of assertiveness versus introversion. On the other axis they are determined by your orientation on tasks and results versus people and relationships. The diagram shows just some characteristics to illustrate the extremes of each style.
Great leaders create a high performance and motivating culture that brings out the best in every team member. That's done with great communications and through understanding relationships. In turn, that generates increased collaboration and teamwork across the organisation.
1: Be aware of your style and the styles of those around you. Engage in a facilitated workshop to help you determine the style of each team member.
2: Flex your own style to work more effectively with diverse styles that are different to yours. When there is potential for conflict or different agendas, seek common ground and mutual interest with those of a different style.
3: Clashes of styles are inevitable. Develop the emotional intelligence of your team so that they become more aware of each other and know when to let go or adapt as needed.
4: Put people in positions not just based on their technical expertise but that play to their strengths. For example, putting a 'driver' type salesperson in front of an 'amiable' buyer is a recipe for conflict.
If you have no choice in this, then ensure that the salesperson knows how to recognise it and adapt.
- Alan O’Neill is managing director of Kara Change Management, specialists in strategy, culture and people development. Go to www.kara.ie for help with your business. Questions for Alan can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
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