Leadership is an intriguing aspect of human behavior, one that has been studied, dissected, and discussed in numerous books, seminars, and workshops. With an abundance of information available, many ask, “What is my leadership style?” Let’s delve deeper into understanding leadership styles and how to find where you fit.
The Leadership Continuum
Think of leadership styles as existing on a continuum, much like many other facets of life. On this spectrum, there are two distinct bookends or poles: the Authoritarian style and the Authoritative style. While they might sound similar, they represent contrasting approaches.
- Authoritarian Leadership: This style is characterized by a “my way or the highway” attitude. Leaders who adopt this approach are often perceived as controlling and aggressive. They prefer having a firm grip on decision-making processes and may not always encourage input from team members.
- Authoritative Leadership: On the opposite end, leaders with an authoritative style are more democratic. They encourage participation, value the input of their team members, and aim to guide rather than control. This doesn’t mean they are pushovers; they still maintain authority but do so with empathy and understanding.
It’s worth noting that the leadership spectrum doesn’t end with the authoritative style. It can stretch even further into the laissez-faire territory, where leaders appear indifferent or hands-off. However, such a stance often doesn’t bode well in terms of effective leadership.
The Influence of Personality
Our inherent personality traits often determine where we lean on the leadership continuum. Some individuals may naturally gravitate towards being more controlling due to their assertive personalities, while others with a more nurturing or collaborative nature might lean towards the authoritative style.
However, regardless of the inherent style, effective communication is vital. For instance, if you find yourself leaning towards the authoritative end, honing your communication skills becomes paramount. This is because you’d be engaging more with your team, networking, and fostering a sense of community.
Adapting to Situations
It’s essential to understand that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t apply to leadership. At times, especially during crises, even the most authoritative leader might need to adopt a more controlling stance. In moments of disaster or uncertainty, a leader must make swift decisions to ensure safety and set a clear direction. Once the immediate threat is over, they can then transition back into a more collaborative mode.
Identifying your leadership style isn’t about boxing yourself into a specific category. It’s about understanding your natural tendencies, recognizing the needs of specific situations, and adapting accordingly. So, whether you’re more controlling (authoritarian) or collaborative (authoritative), what truly defines a great leader is the ability to recognize when to pivot and how to do it effectively.