Leadership Styles in Management – A First-Time Manager’s Reminiscence
Would you like to be recognized as a people leader in your organization? If so, you won't get around knowing about different leadership styles in management!
Maybe you are like me. I find that the word leader is used pretty inflationary in organizations and management literature. Everyone is a leader - people managers are team leaders, project managers are project leads, etc.
At the same time, the bar is set high. A leader is often described as this charismatic person everyone wants to follow.
As an aspiring leader myself, I often feel the pressure. Do you feel me?
So I went away and did some research on leadership styles in management. And to my surprise, there was a variety of styles. Some are more popular, but none is the best.
I won't get into the detail of all the leadership styles in management as there is already a vast body of knowledge on this topic. If you want a valuable summary of these, I can only recommend the Chartered Management Institute "Management and Leadership Checklist" as an excellent resource .
Here is what all of this boils down to:
- Leaders need to set a clear vision and performance expectations for their team.
- Your leadership style will significantly affect how your team will conduct their work and will directly influence your team's productivity.
- All leadership styles lie on a sliding continuum of relationship building and task focus.
- There is not a single leadership style that fits every situation.
My key takeaway after doing all this research is that a leader needs to use different styles, like playing the piano, to achieve their team's vision.
I have summarised my experiences below to help you decide which are the right leadership styles in management to use for you.
Key Thoughts on Choosing the Best Leadership Style in Management for You
1. Clarity on Objectives
Here is my reality. My teammates used to be my colleagues, and my predecessor had a very different style and vision for the team.
Now, I have clear idea for my team’s future; however, this involves a lot of changes to what the team is used to and how my predecessor led the team. Therefore I use currently an authoritative style, which is task-oriented, in short- to medium-term to implement my vision. This means I am providing a lot of direction. While this approach delivers results, I am under no illusion that this is low in relationship building and doesn’t bring me sympathies from the team.
Once my work framework is in place and performance expectations are clear to the team, I will be less involved in the day-to-day activities. That means that I am aspiring toward a coaching leadership style, a more people-focused approach, in the long-term. That means that I know everyday business is covered, and can only focus on developing the team.
2. Situational Requirements for Leadership Styles in Management
As always in life, the right thing to do depends.
Situational leadership comes back to my earlier topic of knowing leadership styles and playing them similarly to the piano. While your personality and objectives will demand a dominant style, you need to adjust to the day-to-day demands.
Even if I am aspiring to a coaching style leadership style in management, I will not shy away from going back to an authoritarian style if the situation demands it. For example, this could be an important deadline or task, if done wrong, would have a significant impact on the team, department, and organization. These situations require managers to step in to control quality and results.
Similarly, you will find yourself as manager confronted with your employee’s personal issues, such as illness and other personal problems. In these circumstances, you need to apply a people-focused style, even if only temporarily.
3. Organisational Culture and Climate
Here it is vital to understand yourself; yes, yourself! Think long and hard about what your preferred and natural leadership styles are.
Last but not least is to understand organizational culture, including if and how you fit into it. For example, if you excel in leading task-driven results, a very creative or collaborative environment would lead to friction for you. Even if you have brought strong results in the past with your approach, it is unlikely for you to repeat this if the culture is not in line.
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