What’s Your Style?

In one form or another, we are all thrust into a leadership role during the work day. Whether we are leading an organization or a youth soccer team, leadership is one of those intangible, almost immeasurable qualities that make us who we are.

What kind of leader are you?

Our personal leadership style is shaped largely by the myriad situations we encounter daily. While no two people are alike, we all have principles that guide our decisions. It is these principles that make up our specific leadership styles.

The Age-Old Question

The principles or style by which someone leads has been a topic of discussion for many centuries. The 15th-century philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli wrote at great length in answering the question with which all leaders are confronted: “Is it better to be loved or feared?”

While most of us have never sat up late at night thinking about this quandary, I am sure you know at least one person you have worked with who has led through discipline and fear.

Many years ago, all of the managers in our park district were called in to participate in a workshop. While I can’t remember the topic or who sat next to me, I do recall the speaker asking for a show of hands as to how many managers had administered a written reprimand in the past year. He started with one and worked his way up. Very few of us had one, let alone two, but as we all surmised, the same two managers who were synonymous with disciplining their employees had their hands up long after everyone else.

This even surprised the speaker, making him offer a piece of advice. He said very plainly, but sharply to these managers, “It’s not them, it’s you.”

Although this was over 10 years ago, I still think he was dead-on. I remember sitting in meetings with these managers and listening to them boast of how they would sit on the bluffs overlooking the parks with binoculars, watching their employees, or how they would search the phone and alarm records looking for discrepancies. Their behavior turned the employee/employer relationship into a prisoner/warden one.

There are numerous avenues afforded to a supervisor to correct bad behavior, or to instruct an employee before a written reprimand is necessary. While this leadership style may be effective in the short term, it does not promote the values that build quality employees, such as:

• Commitment

• Initiative

• Innovation

• Productivity

• Responsibility

• Team-playing

Nor does this “dread of punishment” help develop the worker and improve his or her value to the organization.

Likewise, Machiavelli finds folly in the person who desires the admiration and love of the people he leads paramount over all else.

I liken this mindset to a volunteer coach I helped several years ago. He spent all of his time and energy trying to get the kids to like him, rather than teach them the game. The kids had little respect for him as a coach and even less as an adult. The leadership (or lack) displayed by this coach could be directly seen in the kids’ poor showing in the first few games of the season. With some guidance and direction, the coach turned the season around for the kids as well as for himself.

Defining Types Of Leadership

These two examples are by no means a synopsis of all the leadership styles found in the workplace. Rather, they are over-pronounced expressions of a few leadership styles.

Today’s leaders have a multitude of principles and styles to study, develop, and integrate into what ultimately becomes their own leadership style. In fact, if you research long enough, you may get confused and wonder how many different leadership styles you have witnessed, used, or worked for.

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  3. Rewarding Employees
  4. Want To Become A Better Manager?
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