What kind of leader are you?

By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

7 September 2016

Leaders help themselves and others to succeed. They set direction, build inspiring visions and create something new.

Great leaders use a combination of dynamic and sweeping actions with ongoing management processes that are designed to maintain and steadily improve performance.

The secret to quality leadership is striking the right balance between actions and processes while nurturing a mutually-beneficial relationship with colleagues.

Eleanor O'Neill has identified the four key skills needed to achieve that goal and be an effective and impressive leader.

1. Delegation

A leader has to manage time, resources and people, using each to their fullest potential. A key factor in this is being able to delegate appropriately. Delegation improves efficiency when work is assigned to those best suited to it. For example, someone with a background in accountancy will likely be able to pull together a report on expenses faster than someone who doesn't.

Delegating is also a great way of encouraging your team members to develop themselves and for you to develop coaching and mentoring skills.

2. Motivation

A leader should keep morale and energy high within a team in order to drive people forward. Being able to motivate your colleagues is an essential skill. Motivation can take the form of providing incentives for good results. Any show of appreciation, from a congratulatory email to extra time-off, can inspire an effort to achieve.

Motivating your people also has a positive impact on the well-being of a team or organisation as a whole. People who feel valued and engaged will be happier in their jobs.

3. Collaboration

A leader should accept the input and advice of others while still maintaining a level of authority. If you are open to new ideas and even occasional criticism, people will feel a part of the bigger process.

Collaboration leads to new approaches and an improved work dynamic. People will be more comfortable around you if they know you are willing to listen. Collaborating requires an element of trust and respect that is hugely beneficial to teamwork. It improves communication and fosters learning opportunities for everyone involved.

4. Persuasion

A leader has to be able to convince others of their point of view. Being in charge inevitably means coming up against conflict, either from your own team or higher up the chain. Persuasion is a skill that allows for rational and professional argument. It calls for the framing of ideas, approaches, and solutions in a manner that establishes credibility.

Persuading also enforces a habit of succinctly outlining the pros and cons of decisions before making them. This ultimately leads to better-informed choices and therefore better results.

Dr Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee described six distinct emotional leadership styles in their 2003 book, The New Leaders. These are:

  1. Pace-setter: Leads by example and expects the best.
  2. Coercive: Authoritative and good in a crisis.
  3. Visionary: Dedicated to one mission and inspires others.
  4. Democratic: Listens and woks well as a team.
  5. Coaching: Focuses on team development and growth.
  6. Affiliative: Builds positive incentives and relationships.

The best leaders use a combination of styles as the situation demands. For example, when introducing big changes to an organisation or project, a Visionary approach may be best. New teams could benefit form an Affiliative leader bringing them together and tasks with a deadline may need a Pace-setter.

Most people will have one or two main styles that gel well with their personality. The trick to becoming a great leader is learning how to adapt for approaches that may not come so easily.

Take our quiz below to find out your primary leadership style:

Tell us your results in the comments below.


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