What is your leadership style? Why does it matter?

Published in the Phoenix Business Journal on July 24, 2022

"Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality." - Warren Bennis, Leadership professor, and author

The many colors of leadership

Here are various leadership styles, their characteristics, and some examples. Where do you fit and where would you like to fit?

Empowering – this leader trusts their team and gives them maximum freedom to make decisions and implement their responsibilities in a hands-off environment. The leader will interact with and support the team, offering any necessary corrections along the way. CEO Tony Hsieh of Zappos is recognized as a successful, empowering leader.

Servant – the servant leader first focuses on employees. They believe that happy employees create happy customers, who are loyal and bring new customers with them (via word of mouth). Employee turnover is low, productivity is high, and profits soar. Herb Kelleher, founder/CEO of Southwest Airlines is a model of a servant leader.

Mentoring – by supporting, teaching, coaxing, and coaching, this leader brings out the best in their employees. They are available, present, excellent listeners, trustworthy and trusting. Mentoring leaders believe in training. They lead by example to show the way. Famed investor Warren Buffett has mentored Microsoft founder Bill Gates for years. 

Transformative – always developing new products and, drawing their people into the process. They hold high visions and purpose, engender trust, and push the team to be better in all endeavors. They leave more good leaders behind them. Steve Jobs, despite some noted exceptions, exemplified this style. He left another great leader, Tim Cook, in his place.

Situational – the chameleon of leadership modes, this style has learned the different styles of leadership. They consciously move among various leadership methods, despite the situation. WWII general and U.S. President General Dwight Eisenhower was a dynamic leader.

Micromanager –  controlling, opposite of empowering, threatening, hierarchical, dictatorial, and sometimes abusive. These leaders are not true leaders. Good people leave them and long-term success is rare. True in nonprofits and government as well. CEO, Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap ruined small appliance giant, Sunbeam. Deceptive leader. 

There are other leadership styles to learn more about: transactional, laissez-faire, democratic, bureaucratic, charismatic, strategic, opportunist, expert, alchemist, and many others. Understanding them helps us know which aspects to adapt and avoid.

Can we change leadership styles?

Yes. University and college courses, workshops, seminars, books and articles, online tutorials, and mentors can teach us more. We can also learn the leadership style of the people who lead us and be more effective in our working relationship with them.

The bottom lines

What is your leadership style? Situational can be the most effective. Understand the relationship between your style and your results. Learn more about all leadership modes and find your own. You can adapt your style. Fixed or dynamic. Then be a better leader.

Click here to read this article on the Phoenix Business Journal site.