How to Recognize Leadership Styles


Leadership is a quality that we look for when hiring and assessing employees. Many of us have an archetype for what a “leader” looks like, often based on our own leadership style. In reality, there are multiple leadership styles and that are all useful, even essential for a team. There are several assessment tools out there that identify different leadership styles. Many of these tools are helpful in providing an interesting perspective. Here will talk about how to recognize various leadership styles.

In general, leadership styles are a reflection of an individual’s personality, values, and skills. Understanding these three components of leadership will help you identify your employees’ leadership styles quickly.

Personality comes into play because we are often good at things that come naturally to us. People who are naturally outgoing are often more likely to enjoy presentations and networking. Someone who is naturally analytical may like projects that require creating and following a process. Understanding your employees’ personality and how it impact skills that come naturally can help you identify what kind of leader they are.

Values are learned in childhood and may be reassessed over time, as we move into adulthood and have more diverse experiences. They are deeply ingrained and don’t change easily. Values impact how people measure success, and thus, how they prioritize tasks and expectations. Some people are outcomes oriented; they believe that the end product is the most important indicator of success. Others, value the process or the way in which the outcome is achieved and will spend more time on intermediate tasks and the way in which they are carried out. Some value hierarchy and appreciate a chain of command while others value more flat structures. Learning about a team members values will help shed light on how they lead.

Skills. Experience and mastery of skills can also be an indicator of leadership style. Often, skills and experience align with personality and values, as we are drawn to things that reflect our own interests; however, many of us have been in the position where we had to learn and master a skill outside of our comfort zone. Having a great deal of knowledge about a topic area or a process can lead people to become a leader in certain situations. For example, many employees who are promoted up the ranks into management may not be natural managers, but they acquire skills, such as communication and delegation, through exposure and practice.

Everyone expresses his or her personality, values, and skills in their work life. An effective manager spends time learning about these attributes in their employees to understand better how each employee’s leadership style can be used to make the team more effective. Observing behaviors and asking good questions to members of your team will shed light on the diversity of leadership styles and allow you to appropriately assign projects or understand how to assist your team in working well together. When team members are encouraged to use their leadership style, they often feel more fulfilled and more likely to stay engaged.

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