When we interact with someone whose leadership styles and tendencies are similar to our own, communication is relatively easy. However, when we work with people whose leadership style is different from our own, communication and cooperation can be challenging. Dale Carnegie said the most important element of working with different leadership styles is flexibility—our willingness and ability to see things from another person’s point of view. So how do we determine our own leadership style, and more important, how do we work effectively with others who have a different style?
No single leadership style is superior to the others. Effective leaders must find ways to work with all styles and accentuate the positive traits in others, while minimizing the challenges associated with the different styles.
Here are the four main leadership styles. Which one do you think best describes you?
1. Visionary — Individuals with a visionary leadership style are comfortable with creative thinking, brainstorming, and asking open-ended questions. They are intuitive in their decision-making, preferring to base action plans on people, creative ideas, and opinions rather than on facts and analysis. They enjoy fast-paced environments, emotional discussions, and energetic people. They do not respond well to being bogged down with details, statistics, and minutiae.
2. Achiever — Individuals with the achiever leadership style are results-driven and most comfortable taking a direct, no-nonsense approach to decision-making and interpersonal relationships. They view situations as challenges to be resolved and they want to get things done as quickly and directly as possible. They are demanding of themselves and have high expectations of others. They do not respond well to speculation, wasting time, or getting “too personal.”
3. Facilitator — Individuals with the facilitator leadership style value relationships, dedication, and loyalty. A cooperative and supportive work environment that values teamwork motivates them. They thrive on encouragement and assistance, preferring a person-centered style to a strictly fact-based, “get down to business” approach. They do not respond well to being rushed or threatened.
4. Analyzer — Individuals with the analyzer leadership style value systematic, formal approaches to problem solving and decision-making. They are more at ease with facts and figures than with opinions and emotions, and they are likely to be reserved and businesslike rather than warm and expressive. They do not respond well to aggressiveness or carelessness.
Rather than imposing our leadership styles and tendencies on others, we must think through our actions beforehand so that we can approach others in a manner that helps them feel comfortable. Some key guidelines include:
- Focus on outcomes — Focusing on outcomes rather than on personalities frees us up to appreciate the differences in others and the strengths they possess as team members.
- Adjust our expectations — Others may do things differently than we do, and our way is not automatically better. We must let go of any selfish motives and adjust our expectations of the other person accordingly.
- Go the extra mile — We cannot simply wait and hope other people will change their style. Chances are that they won’t. To help bridge the gap between leadership styles, we must be willing to go further than the other person.
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