My wife Kelly was preparing for a job interview, and turned some of the prep questions around on me. She asked me to describe my leadership style. She stumped me. At first, I blamed the question. How could one sum up something as complex as leadership with a few simple buzz words? I turned the question around and ask her to explain her therapy style. She nailed it.
I’ve been thinking about how to describe my leadership style since my wife posed the question. To break this question down, the word “style”, as defined by my Pocket Oxford American English Dictionary and Thesaurus app, is a way of doing something. Leadership, as I’ve come to define it, is the process of bringing a group of people to achieve a goal they would not have otherwise achieved on their own.
After my wife so eloquently described her strengths-based therapy style, I asked her for some help describing my leadership style. She said I lead by example, work hard, and don’t ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do. She said I am a good teacher and mentor and I like to help other people get promoted and achieve their goals. She said I set good boundaries and know how to build professional relationships. These boundaries sometimes cause people to view me as stiff or stuffy, but this might not be such a bad thing, she said.
“How do know so much about me at work?” I asked her.
“I’ve been listening to you on that stupid phone for seven years. I could probably sell mattresses by now too,” she replied.
I revisited the Manager Tools podcast on describing a leadership style. They recommend thinking about significant past accomplishments and analyzing what actions you took and how you communicated with your team during the time leading up to those accomplishments. What were the common themes emerging from your behavioral and communication patterns? Manager Tools recommends showing what your style looks like through a description like this:
When I think back on successful projects, I think about the all of the extra effort especially at the start. I would often go into work early and leave late. I would begin by analyzing my situation, and meeting with my team to create a clear vision of what a successful outcome would be. Together, we would develop a plan to make our vision a reality. We all worked hard towards our goal, and I delegated and empowered my team so they could learn from the experience. Under pressure, I’ve always been able to make tough decisions quickly, and the quality of my decision making has improved with experience. This has made me confident and assertive in my communication. When I am at my best, the result is on-time completion with better than expected results.
I’ve grown as leader over the past couple of years through aggressively pursuing self-understating. Writing this blog has helped me to more deeply understand myself a leader, and thanks to my wife and wonderful (and free) online resources like Manager Tools, I can now succinctly describe my leadership style. Can you?
My leadership style is to lead by example, with heart, integrity, and strong professional relationships. I am decisive, assertive and confident in my communication. I create an attractive and bold vision for the future, and develop a plan with my team for realizing our shared vision. Along the way, my team learns and grows so they can achieve their personal development goals.
What Makes a Good Leader
There are many different styles of leadership and the majority of them are very effective, but despite these different approaches, all good leaders share a handful of characteristics. So, what are these qualities that make a good leader? We are going to take a closer look at some of them including good communication, the ability to delegate and a strong level of commitment to see how these qualities can help to make someone a good leader.
One of the most important characteristics of a good leader is that they need to actually be prepared to lead. This sounds like something that should go without saying, but it is surprising just how many people who are in a leadership role are not prepared to take an active role in leading their team. A good leader does not sit back and observe what is going on, but rather they should be the one making the decisions and making sure that the rest of the team sees them through. You must have the self-confidence to stand by such decisions when you are sure that you are right. However, if you do happen to be wrong you must also own your mistakes and come up with an alternative plan in the event of failure. Your subordinates should be comfortable looking to you for guidance and for that to happen you must take an active role in leadership.
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While it is important for leaders to be hands on and have an active role in leadership, a good leader must also know when to delegate! It is essential that you are able to trust your team to execute your vision. This means allowing them to get involved with various aspects of your plans. Delegating tasks to other people or departments is a very important skill for a leader to have. In order to delegate effectively, you must be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of those on your team so that you can allocated tasks accordingly. This will free up your own time for higher level tasks.
The best leaders are also those who excel when it comes to communication. It is essential for a leader to be able to communicate effectively with everyone on the team at all times. You need to be able to think things through and consider what information is available to others on your team. Are you providing them with all of the relevant information that is needed to accomplish the tasks that they have been set? A good leader must also make sure that he or she not only communicates the appropriate information to the team, but also that everyone understands it. Great leaders are able to communicate in a way that others can engage with. This makes it easier for others to understand what you are saying and to remember it! When your team has a clear understanding not only of the end goal, but also how to achieve it, you will find that your efforts run much more smoothly.
A good leader must also show a commitment to his or her team. You cannot expect to motivate others to put in their best efforts if you yourself are not leading by example. The best motivation for many people is seeing their boss right there working just as hard as everyone else. This demonstrates your commitment to your team and is a sure fire way to inspire their loyalty. It is great if you can not only prove that you work hard, but also that you are fair and do not expect anything of your team that you are not willing to do yourself! A positive attitude will also go a long way to showing your commitment to your role as a leader.
In conclusion, there are many different characteristics that make a good leader. There are a variety of different approaches to leadership, but those who succeed in their leadership role are very likely to exhibit the characteristics that we have discussed her. A good leader has commitment and a positive attitude, knows how to delegate, can communicate effectively and is prepared to actively lead a team.