What is Leadership Style?
Leadership style is the particular way in which a person leads others. It’s best understood by measuring the extent to which a leader’s preferred behavior demonstrates assertiveness and expressiveness, which are broad categories of behavior dimensions. The combination of high/low on the assertiveness dimension and high/low on the expressiveness dimension results in four possible leadership styles: direct, spirited, systematic, and considerate.
These are the four leadership styles and their assertiveness/expressiveness levels:
- Direct – Direct leaders have high assertiveness and low expressiveness. They tend to lead by taking charge.
- Spirited – Spirited leaders have high assertiveness and high expressiveness. They usually lead others by inspiring them.
- Considerate – Considerate leaders have low assertiveness and high expressiveness. They lead by building group harmony.
- Systematic – Systematic leaders have low assertiveness and low expressiveness. They usually lead by planning carefully.
The assertiveness dimension measures the degree to which a person’s behavior is forceful or directive. Highly assertive people like to take control of situations while people with low assertiveness may be more comfortable in less visible roles. The expressiveness dimension measures the degree to which a person’s behavior is emotionally responsive or demonstrative. Highly expressive people like to show their emotions and form interpersonal relationships while less expressive people tend to keep to themselves.
Each Style’s Strengths and Weaknesses
For direct leaders, their take-charge style can pull others through. They like to compete, which may give the organization an edge over others, and they produce quick results. They are energetic, and get people moving. They also take charge no matter how challenging the situation.
The spirited leader can encourage the team when their energy begins to flag. They are big picture, vision-oriented thinkers, who are good at generating enthusiasm and rallying support. They motivate others to develop fresh, new approaches, and they are spontaneous and create a fun atmosphere.
Considerate leaders can grow team harmony with their desire to accommodate everyone. They provide others with a sense of reassurance in difficult or changing times. They are also able to build a loyal following by demonstrating their support for others. Considerate leaders recognize the importance of taking others’ views and feelings into account.
The systematic leader focuses on accuracy and objectivity. Their analytical style can be a real asset. They provide structure for activities, which usually helps tasks or projects stay on track. A systematic leader makes sure that no one overlooks the important details and makes decisions based on facts. They also have a strong orientation toward objectivity and accuracy.
Why is it Helpful to Know About Leadership Styles?
Current research shows that the most effective leaders know that their first reactions to situations may not always prove effective. They know they must make deliberate choices about their way of leading. Effective leaders first evaluate a situation, and then, depending on the specific requirements of the situation, they may deliberately choose to follow their natural inclinations, leading others in their characteristic way. Or they may choose to modify their leadership styles to suit the situation.
One leadership style isn’t necessarily better than the others, and you could have traits of more than one style. The key is to know which one you are most like, and which ones your colleagues are. If you know these things you can use your style to interact with people better.
The benefits of knowing your leadership styles include:
- Being able to work with others better
- Predicting people’s actions
- Knowing why you act the way that you do
- Seeing the bigger picture better
- Adapting to fit the situation at hand
The most effective leaders know how to make situational choices when leading, regardless of their dominant style. They may deliberately choose to follow their natural inclinations, leading others in their characteristic way, or they may choose to modify or adapt their dominant style to suit the situation. Making use of a style other than one’s dominant style is called “flexing” and is central to achieving success as a leader.
To learn more about the benefits of leadership styles, attend the Leadership Styles: Measuring and Refining Your Skills webinar on Sept. 13 at 2 p.m. This webinar is for trainers and managers who train and lead others, and is based on the HRDQ product What’s My Leadership Style? Participants will learn how to identify personal leadership style, how to capitalize on style strengths, discover how to minimize style trouble spots, and learn how to use their personal style to interact most effectively with others. Register here: www.hrdqu.com/webinars/leadership-styles-measuring-and-refining-your-skills/.
The webinar is based on HRDQ’s What’s My Leadership Style?, a management development and leadership style assessment and training workshop that identifies leadership styles and helps organizational leaders, managers, and supervisors improve performance and become effective leaders. Learn more here: www.hrdqstore.com/whats-my-leadership-style.