When we take the reins for the first time, we can adopt a leadership style that we’ve seen in others, or that we’ve heard or read about. If it seems to be working, we’ll probably stick with it – it’ll become “our” style.
You’ve probably worked with a lot of leaders over the course of your career. Some could have been fantastic, and others could have been completely ineffective.
You may have also worked for a boss who was nice in some cases but terrible in others because he or she followed the same leadership style every time.
However, we have a variety of methods at our disposal, and a successful leader should adapt their style to the situation and the people involved. We’ve all heard at one point in time someone refer to themselves or to someone as a born-leader.
This might be because this person either had an aura to their personality or that they just had their way around with things.
It’s important to understand your own natural leadership style and also helpful to know which leadership behaviors to avoid.
One way to do this is to use Lewin’s Leadership Styles Framework. In this article, we’ll look at the three core leadership styles that Lewin identified, and we’ll see how you can use his model to be a more effective leader.
To identify with the three core styles, we will make use of a quiz that will help you recognize your natural style and introduce you to alternative methods that you can find useful to create, as well as the situations in which they are suitable.
Complete the statement by choosing one of the three options: A, B or C. Please answer according to how you would behave in reality, rather than how you think you should behave.
|Decisions & |
|I make quick|
decisions – there’s no need
|Ideas & suggestions from my team|
on any decisions I make.
Team members are
encouraged to be part of the decision making process.
|Decisions are based on|
what our policies and procedures say alone.
|Feedback||I don’t expect staff to|
criticise processes and methods of work.
|I will listen to feedback|
and trust the team with
|I encourage feedback|
and work with my team
|There’s no need for|
feedback. Faults should
be brought to my attention via the agreed procedure.
|Communication||Employees should know|
what they are doing. I tell my team what they need
to know to get the job done.
|I share what is going on in the practice, and the team should research and question information.||I consult with the whole team regularly and use various methods to communicate|
with the team.
|I release updates to|
the team in a scheduled manner.
|Performance||I ensure tasks get done myself and my team|
should meet high levels
|I encourage the team|
to work in their own style. Individual styles promote good performance.
|I agree targets and objectives with individuals and expect a degree of self-inspection.||I expect employees to|
work uniformly and rewards members for following rules.
|Supervision||I supervise and monitor all aspects of my team’s roles.||I trust my team to perform||Employees are guided on how to perform.||Policies, rules and procedures strictly adhered to and policed.||___|
|Behaviour||Poor conduct is quickly and strictly managed and is actively monitored.||I trust my team to be professional. I do not|
|I agree expectations with the team and deal with them when they are not met.||I use a policy/framework|
to decide who meets company standards and what actions are necessary.
|You most commonly adopt an authoritarian or autocratic leadership style. |
You rarely consult your team members and, instead, tend to tell them what you want, when you want it, and how you want it done.
This style works well in a crisis when a task must be completed quickly. However, you’ll likely demoralize, demotivate and aggravate people if you use it all the time. This can translate into high absenteeism and turnover rates.
You’ll also miss out on a wealth of ideas, thereby stifling innovation and creativity.
|Mostly B’s||Your default leadership style is probably delegating or “laissez-faire.” |
You give your team members free rein in how they work toward their goals. This is an ideal approach when your people are highly skilled and motivated, and when you’re working with contractors and freelancers who you trust.
But if a team member is inexperienced or untrustworthy, or if you lose sight of what’s going on, this approach can backfire catastrophically.
|You lean toward a democratic or participative style of leadership. |
You tend to set the parameters for the work and have the final say on decisions, but you actively involve your team members in the process.
This style can build trust between you and your people, as they’ll likely feel engaged and valued. But it’s not great in a high-pressure situation that requires a fast turnaround, as it will slow you down.
And, if you dislike disagreement or conflict, you might struggle with how people respond to the consultation.
|Mostly D’s||Bureaucratic: |
The bureaucratic leadership style is based on the administrative needs of an organization.
Although it is most often found in the public sector, any company can implement this type of leadership style for their teams and departments.
They are good at ensuring safety and quality is focused on and are perfect with routine. They however discourage creativity and independence.
I had an interesting conversation with Jamie Martin about finding your ideal leadership style. Jamie Martin is the founder of Jamie Martin Coaching who started her journey to becoming a life and leadership coach and changing her life in the process after knowing it was time to follow her heart and go after her dream. We shared several pointers in one’s leadership journey.
She shares that natural leadership isn’t an indication that one does not need growth in their leadership techniques. Good leaders have a strong a WHY in their leadership model. So figuring out your WHY is really essential in one’s pursuit of a leadership style. To find out more and follow up on our conversation, listen to our podcast episode here;
Listen to our conversation:
You can also watch this episode here