Leadership Styles, Types, and Skills
I started a job once and I didn’t really have the skills to do it effectively. But, I had certain expertise that the company wanted and so they hired me anyway, knowing that I didn’t quite fit the mold. I got some training from my new boss during the on-boarding process, but it wasn’t enough.
I remember the first project that I submitted. I told my boss that I’d never done this sort of work before, and asked for feedback so that I could do a good job. My boss looked at the project, returned it to me and said that I did an awesome job. That felt good but then I had to present my project to the rest of the team.
I got a lot negative feedback. I did a bad job, and it really hurt my confidence. I didn’t recover from that punch to my ego at the time, even though I garnered more of the necessary skills as I worked on other projects for that company. I still had it in my mind that I wasn’t doing very well, and ultimately I ended up leaving that position.
I could blame my boss at the time for their poor leadership, but I have to blame myself because I didn’t push for the help that I needed. The fact is that good leadership can produce tremendous results and when I think of good leaders, I think of a few different attributes.
Good leaders are effective communicators who know how to talk to their teams. They know how to listen to their teams. They know how to identify problems, and talk with their team so that those problems don’t become disasters.
A good leader is optimistic. they know how to motivate a team and how to give people a positive vision of the future, so that they stay engaged in their work, and produce great results.
A good leader is open-minded. They listen to people. They even listen to ideas from the most junior people on a team, because sometimes their ideas are really good. But even if they aren’t, just the fact that a leader listens to them makes people feel heard. It makes people feel engaged. It makes people feel like they’re part of something bigger. All of these skills – optimism, open-mindedness, and effective communications can be applied to any leadership style.
If you’re a bureaucratic leader you can apply these skills. A bureaucratic leader is somebody who has a bunch of rules. They tell you to perform a number of tasks, you do the work, and life is good. That’s okay for junior level teams that need that level of direction, but it’s not the best style for more senior people who are self-directed.
More seasoned staff may require a more authoritative approach. These people are often highly motivated, and just need to know the expected outcome of their work. That works for certain people too, but the approach that I like best is the coaching style of leadership.
Coaches take each individual on a team and look at what they’re good at, and tasks on which they need improvement. In my role, I often help people to become the best versions of themselves. They garner the skills that they need, whether I teach them those skills or I point them in the right direction. This works really well for the kind of work that I do.
I help companies build processes. I’ve got a client for whom I built a process for content development. We produce about 40 articles per month, and each article is about a thousand words. That’s the equivalent of a half a novel that we write every single month, and that requires about eight people on the writing team, plus a content editor, a website administrator, and a bunch of other people. To facilitate this process I created a system using a platform called Trello.
There are a lot of platforms like Trello; I also use Asana, Jira (Atlassian) and others, depending on the sort of team I’m building at the time. I assign tasks on this platform, and people pick up their assignments, do the work, and then when they’re done they check off some boxes, move the tasks to the next column, and the next person touches that piece of content. This process carries every piece of content from concept to publication.
This system is really good; automation is awesome because it eliminates a lot of overhead, and it eliminates a lot of mistakes and things slipping through the cracks. But it’s missing one very important component.
Human Interaction and Leadership
Automated processes often lack the human interaction that most people require. Most people need human interaction in order to be engaged in the work that they do. They need to feel like they’re part of a team.
In this job, not only do I manage the project using this system but I provide leadership to people. I give them that human interaction that they need, and that coaching that they need so that they can improve their skills and stay engaged.
Understanding Leadership Styles
Understanding different leadership styles is good if you’re a leader, or you’re being directed by somebody else. If you’re a leader, you want to know your own leadership style, so that you can play to your strengths and improve your weaknesses. But if you’re being directed by somebody else, you want to know their leadership style, so that you understand what you can expect to get from them, and what guidance will be lacking.
Improving one’s leadership skills is a very important thing for everybody it’s important for you, because you will grow as a person. It’s good for your boss, or for people who are directed by you, because they will be more motivated, and more engaged. Ultimately they’ll look good because of the work that you do. It’s good for your company because they’re more profitable. And, it’s good for your company’s customers because they get a better product.
Good leadership is good for everybody. I would encourage you to think about your leadership style, and your boss’s leadership style, and how you can use that understanding to improve your position at your company.