The new year is in full swing, and you’ve probably got some new projects on your plate. Or maybe you have some loose-ends to tie up from last year? If you’re eager to push things forward, then you might be thinking about leadership styles and how to lead your teammates, get them motivated, out of holiday mode, and get things done!
You might even be tempted to just command your teammates, using a directive style of leadership, a la Steve Jobs.
I’ve always been skeptical about the effectiveness of this leadership style…
Having been led by folks who have adopted it, I know I do not perform well. If you’re a top-performer, I’m sure you probably feel the same!
While it might initially work, long term it pisses off top-performers, who want to have a say in the work they do. They tend to burn out and move on.
Marching to the beat of your own drum
Given how popularized the directive leadership style has become in the media, you’d think it was the only one right? But the truth is that the other 99% of CEOs and top level leaders, whose companies are performing well, have opted out of the directive style of leadership.
A couple months back I was attending BullCon in Miami, and I saw that Amber Balet was going to give a presentation on leadership styles. I was curious to hear what Amber had to say, and if she could shed some light into what the other 99% of leaders were doing.
Decisions drive organizations
Leadership is most often characterized by the personality trait of the leader such as introverted or extroverted. But it’s the decisions they make that really impact the organization.
Hence, Amber presented 4 leadership styles highlighting the decision-making characteristics of each:
Analytical: influenced by data and numbers, and use them over anecdotal evidence to make a decision.
Directive: makes demands and often unilaterally makes decisions.
Counselor: listens to others and guides them to make decisions based on their needs.
Coach: is similar to a counselor but is more focused on offering training to people.
Style comes down to situations
What I found most enlightening from Amber’s presentation, is that a good leader actually embraces different leadership styles, depending on the context!
For example, when putting out a fire, the last thing you should be doing is coaching or counseling people. It’s the time to act, and hence a directive style of leadership is best. However, when things are calm a counselor or coach is preferable to educating and empowering a team.
Leadership style cultivates culture
The prevailing leadership style of an organization also cultivates the culture. For instance, an organization led through directives, will develop into one that is dependent on authority. However, one that is led by an analytical style coupled with coaching, will be more autonomous; employees will be capable of making their own decisions.
Checks and balances
Given the impact a leader’s style has on decision-making, and how it influences the culture of an organization, leaders need to take the time to introspect and reflect how their leadership style is being perceived in an organization.
Too often they neglect or de-prioritize it, and instead focus on getting results, rather than how to get those results.
In the end, it’s the choice to lead by influence versus commands.
How about leading a remote team?
Many of you have written in and asked me that question. In the pilot episode of Femgineer TV, which airs on Tuesday January 20th at 9am PST, we’re going to talk about: How to Build a Happy and Productive Remote Team. Watch the pilot!
Whether you’re an employee or founder, I’m sure you’ve had to lead at some point in your career! What is your leadership style, and how have you cultivated it over the years? Let me know in the comments below!