A singular leadership style doesn’t work anymore. For some, this is welcome news because there are leaders who prefer to share the load of strategic planning. But for many leaders who are used to ‘running the show,’ this change can be a tough adjustment. It requires some self-reflection about the type of leader you are and the style you prefer.
Leading a team of strong leaders can be either challenging or exhilarating, depending on what you expect of yourself and the demand of those that you lead. The traditional leader sets the goals and turns them over to their team to meet them. On the plus side, it’s an easy practice to understand and follow, but the inherent problem is when someone has an alternative idea, it is often silenced or given short shrift. This doesn’t drive innovation, quite the opposite. It drives people away.
Take this traditional leadership to an extreme and you have an authoritarian leader. I have found these leaders the most difficult to work with during challenging and changing times. The thought of total authority for people, strategies and tactics in the hands of one person is self-explanatory why few people will want to be on their team. I will say in a crisis, you do need someone to take charge and set the path for everyone to follow. However, an adaptive personality will produce far more with their team in the long term because everyone will feel comfortable challenging the status quo without fear of retaliation.
Transformational leaders lead successful organizations. Although they do hold the ultimate authority, their primary aim is to encourage their team members to think creatively out of the box and develop innovative ways to make the business succeed. This type of leader is the most enjoyable and rewarding to work for because this leadership style involves everyone in the most pressing strategy thinking and asks for their active participation. They will be heard and valued, regardless of whether their idea is selected. The fact that they actively contributed is the essential requirement of team membership.
Some people call this coaching leadership, where the primary leader sees the role as helping the team’s best ideas come to life and rewarding those who had them. Of course, this leadership approach implies you have hired highly competent, skilled people, which remains your ultimate responsibility when you think about it. Is this the most uncomplicated leadership style? No, but it is the most rewarding when it works well.