Choosing Your Leadership Style
As mentioned, being effective requires applying both management and leadership approaches and displaying the traits that make a good leader. But this doesn’t mean you have to become “somebody else” to be a good leader; in fact, that isn’t usually effective. Good leaders are able to incorporate effective traits into their work habits while still being themselves. The pathway your life has taken is unique—leveraging that experience and your natural style is the best approach to effective leadership.
Basic Work Styles
Let’s introduce some fundamental work styles, their strengths, and shortcomings:
1. Action oriented: Focused on “doing things,” action-oriented people want to get things done as quickly as possible. They accomplish a lot but can confuse team members due to a lack of planning and communication about what they’re trying to accomplish.
2. Planning oriented: “Planners” are focused on laying out their tasks while understanding the impact they will have on themselves and others. They can be precise and detail oriented but sometimes can “overwork” a plan and delay achieving the accomplishments their plans are intended to support.
3. Social oriented: Focused on the people in a work environment, social-oriented people are great communicators. These folks help build a cohesive team and make people feel needed. This style can be used in excess, however, and waste people’s time with frivolous chatter.
4. Analysis oriented: “Analysts” focus on examining alternatives to get things done, to ensure the best outcome. This work style contributes significantly to the quality of output but can also hamper output by not properly gauging when to stop seeking alternatives.
For the most part, these styles are “hard-wired.” While you may be able to effectively apply all four work styles, you likely have a favorite or two that represent how you best approach work. This should apply to your leadership style as well. Trying to lead like an analyst when it isn’t your preferred style is something you’ll likely be able to do, but only for a limited time. Doing it until you can leverage others who prefer an analyst approach is the best way to lead. Try your best to assemble a team that collectively can apply all four styles when and as needed.
Detecting Style Imbalance
Examining the characteristics of each work style helps identify when teams have a “style imbalance” that reduces their effectiveness.
• A lack of action orientation can be the cause of consistently missed deadlines or items languishing on the team’s “to-do list.”
• A planning shortage is indicated when team members don’t know what their colleagues are doing, duplication of effort is detected, things take much longer to complete as the work effort was not thought through, or different perceptions exist about the product being produced.
• Team disharmony or a lack of team identity and dedication are the symptoms of a lack of attention being dedicated to the social work style.
• A shortage of analysis focus is indicated if cheaper or better ways of accomplishing tasks surface after you have applied significant effort. Another indicator of this is when you create a process or build a product, and then discover that process or product already existed and could have easily been deployed another way.
Effective team members, whether they’re the leader or not, watch for all four work styles and seek to apply them if a gap is present. Good leaders compensate for the gaps in a team and leverage the strengths their team brings to the table via these four work styles.
Tomorrow, I will share how to understand the motivations and styles of your colleagues so you can work with them most effectively.
Have a great day!
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