Leadership is one of the most researched areas of management and human resources. Given how important it is in business, this is not surprising. There are various theories about what personality qualities leaders should have. We will be dealing with the types of leadership in this blog. This topic can be helpful for you to recognize your leadership style and adapt it not only to your team but also to specific situations.
Leadership style does not have to be the exclusive category you have chosen, so it is not "forbidden" to have behaviors from other kinds. On the contrary, one of the critical characteristics of good leaders is flexibility, which includes adjusting leadership style to several potentially influential factors.
Leadership has many definitions, but one thing is for sure - it's not just about leading people and planning, but also about trust, openness, and problem-solving.
There are two major categories when it comes to leadership or leadership styles, within which there are also specific subcategories.
It is characteristic of the fact that the manager gives tasks, i.e., sets goals to the team members, so that communication mainly takes place "from above," that is, from the manager to the employees, who are passive recipients of instructions and tasks. In this style, the manager controls and oversees the entire job process.
As its name suggests, this style involves employees in the decision-making process, which means they are part of that process and its active members. The manager defines long-term goals, while the employees determine short-term ones and plan to achieve these milestones. This management style is most often used by already well-trained, motivated employees, as well as in situations that imply stable working conditions and enough time to complete the job.
Democratic leadership style is further divided into two subcategories:
where employees make decisions about how they will do the work, which means they are motivated and well acquainted with the procedures and tasks. The communication between managers and employees is a two-way street, both formal and informal.
liberal or delegate style goes one step further in giving employees the freedom to participate in decision-making and task execution. In this style, the primary importance is achieving the goal, not its journey. The leader provides support during tasks and gives feedback when the job is done. The fundamental difference about the participatory style is a greater degree of freedom of employees in decision-making.
It is considered an extreme form of liberal democratic style because the manager ultimately leaves the employees to decide how to achieve the goal and doesn't control their progress. This means that employees know more about the procedures and tasks than the manager. He deals only with the efficiency of the fulfilled goal and the necessary logistics to achieve the goal.
There is undoubtedly a connection between personality qualities and the type of leadership. Still, it is wrong to equate these two concepts and make predictions about one's leadership style only based on personality traits. The management style is influenced by external factors, such as working conditions, type of work, time, and other limitations, and the team itself, i.e., its characteristics: from expertise, training, experience, and motivation. Therefore, the most efficient leadership style is considered flexibility, i.e., adapting the style to all the listed factors.
Numerous researches have dealt with good personality traits, i.e., influential leaders, and many theories have been spread about that. But, of course, there is no general conclusion about these characteristics. Still, these characteristics will increase the leader's chance to be up to the task.
We've already described several leadership styles, which are to some extent related to personality traits. However, as mentioned, which leadership style will be dominant will depend not only on the manager's personality qualities but also on the context, i.e., on factors such as team characteristics and expertise, the type of tasks and goals the team has, and working conditions.
Then why do we deal with the personality characteristics of good leaders?
Because these traits are not necessarily something we were born with, we have to come to terms with the situation as it is. Dealing with good leaders' qualities is an invitation to examine which characteristics you have and which you could work on further strengthening.
Flexibility means the ability to adapt to the ongoing changes, and leaders not only adjust but are often the generators of those same changes. That is why this quality is crucial for all those who can influence others by their actions, which is the very essence of leadership.
Understanding the perspectives, needs, and attitudes is also an essential quality of a leader, as it offers the ability to tailor the approach to each team member individually. Seeing and understanding the world from "other people's shoes" means a better understanding of the person from whose perspective the view is made. For leaders, it is essential to nurture their team and guide and model it in a constructive way.
In the context of leadership, one of the most commonly used terms is "vision." Along the way, commitment to tasks and individual goals is significant. In addition, the leader serves as an example to his team, a model to follow. That is why his commitment is reflected on the whole team, making it even more critical.
From active listening to assertiveness and adapting the style of communication to the circumstances, communication skills are essential for the leader because they are his primary tool. They determine how he communicates with the team, but also with others. Many determinants of his leadership will often depend on his ability to communicate effectively: how people perceive him, resolve conflicts and the like.
Is a step forward in adapting to change. The ability to learn quickly implies an effective response to changes and active participation in causing and accepting change. Circumstances change independently, and sometimes we change them ourselves, consciously and responsibly. That's why fast learning is essential - because it allows you to adapt and learn from experience, which is also a crucial characteristic of good leaders.
This quality contains openness, empathy, and comfort for being in one's skin; therefore, self-confidence. Pretending can't work in the long run, and the damage they can cause in the short run can be enormous. That is why good leaders are authentic because they sincerely connect with people and make relationships and mutual trust.
The truth is that the more we know and the more situations we go through, the wiser we become. Versatility means that we know many areas and have a certain latitude in understanding reality, which applies to the world and the people we work with.
We can have some of these characteristics as part of our personality. We can work on some (the most prominent examples are communication skills and empathy, critical in emotional intelligence). Even if we think that we can change little in our personality, the very awareness of these qualities and their importance in leadership can help us keep in mind what we can do. For example, to work and improve relations with others, and thus our leadership capacities.
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