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There’s More Than One Way to Lead – How to Find Yours
To discover your leadership style, you need to find out what your interpersonal strengths and weaknesses are. I can provide you with the tools to help you collect relevant, measurable data in this respect. Once you know where you need to improve, you can create an actionable plan for leadership growth.
To evolve and develop as a leader, you need to understand your predominant leadership style with its strengths and weaknesses. There is no clear-cut, precisely defined leadership style that leads to success. Different leaders lead differently. Success depends on the optimal exploitation of leadership strengths and the proper management of weaknesses.
Leadership Styles are Not Rigid
The best leaders can switch between leadership styles at will. They understand their strengths and weaknesses so well that they can master several leadership styles, adapting to the circumstances on the go. As I have put forth in several of my books, leadership development is a multi-stage process that starts with identifying your preferred/predominant leadership style. Once you know where you are, you can plot a course to where you’d like to be.
Identifying Your Strengths and Weaknesses
The simplest way to assess your strengths is to run a thought exercise. Try to recall the times when you received recognitions, promotions, awards, etc. Try to remember the skills you used to accomplish the deeds that earned you praise.
This exercise is a good starting point. However, professional leadership development needs deeper-level work, as well. We use 360-degree, multi-rater surveys, like my Strategic-tactical Leadership Index (STLI) to gain input on the abilities of a leader from a wide range of stakeholders.
How Multi-rater Surveys Work
The STLI uses my map of inner- and outer-core leadership competencies I have summed up through my Wheel of Intelligent Leadership. It provides a measure of the outer-core leadership competencies most often associated with leadership success, giving the rated person an actionable map of his/her weaknesses and strengths.
The STLI can deliver value through self-assessment alone, but its measurements are much more relevant when it uses input from peers, employees, managers, clients, and other stakeholders.
While the primary objective of the STLI is to create a measurable picture of your leadership effectiveness, it inevitably highlights your interpersonal strengths and identifies potential areas for improvement.
Discovering Your Preferred Leadership Style
Your preferred leadership style is the one with which you are the most comfortable. When you are not focusing on assuming a different style, this is the leadership style to which you default.
Are you a coercive, autocratic leader? Do you prefer to steer the boat of your organization democratically? Is your leadership transformative, or are you focused on coaching and employee empowerment? How well does your leadership style reflect the principles of intelligent leadership?
Once you know your strengths and weaknesses, you find the answers to all these questions.
The Power of Flexibility
Different leadership styles suit different organizational requirements and situations. If your organization is experiencing a period of strife and radical change, a more autocratic leadership style may produce better results.
Steering the ship of your organization through a storm requires flexibility.
Focusing on coaching and the empowerment of employees is a more effective long-term approach, especially from the perspective of succession and leadership development.
Setting Leadership Development Goals
When you know your leadership style, you are ready for growth. Knowing your weaknesses allows you to effect improvements in areas where they make the most significant impact.
Don’t be afraid to share your weaknesses and show vulnerability. Your reports already know your weaknesses, and if you acknowledge them, you build trust, rapport, and create the right circumstances for improvement.
Keep your leadership development goals realistic. Define them clearly, and draw up an actionable plan to achieve them.
If you want to learn more about my STLI and Wheel of Intelligent Leadership, check out my books and blog posts.