Leadership styles vary from person to person. And they should really vary from situation to situation. Leadership is not as much about you and your needs, but more about the needs of the people you hope to lead.
I think the key to any effective leadership style is trust. I've written extensively about ethics and character. Every successful leader inspires trust. Those who try to lead but fail to come across as trustworthy should look behind them because no one is following.
Ability is another important trait. If you don't know what you're doing, it will show through very quickly. But I think in all cases, if people know you are a person of integrity, they'll allow you to grow into that position of leadership.
There's an old commercial about adoption. It shows a parent making mistakes over and over, but the message is clear. You don't have to be perfect to be a good parent. You just have to care. People need to trust before they follow.
Along the line of parenting, this is one of those topics that I feel is most important in our role to "teach your children well." I have an entire section devoted to teaching our next generation to do great things.
Stephen Covey has written some incredible books. I've listed two of them in the left margin in the section about new classics. In this page, I've included some more information about how leaders convey genuine trust.
There are several different leadership styles that you can move toward or can learn. I'll give you three very good books to help you. Two just below and then I'll save my personal favorite for last.
Daniel Goleman wrote a bestseller with the title of "Primal Leadership." He suggests five different leadership qualities based on the folks being led.
1.) Coaching: This usually means one on one or small group tutelage. Maybe you are working with someone who shows flashes of initiative or motivation and just needs a little boost. Be sure not to smother him so he never takes off on his own or worse, loses confidence.
2.) Pace setting: This style comes from you the leader being outstanding in every detail and setting a high bar. Be careful that you don't cause those following to assume they can never live up to your pace.
3.) Affiliative: In this style you would encourage teamwork and promote group harmony. This works very well to produce unity. The downside to watch out for is that in some cases mediocrity can be tolerated.
4.) Democratic: Just as the name would indicate, this leadership style works in a group where the direction of the members is not clear. Decisions involve the entire group and draw on all their talents. The big challenge in this method is that it doesn't work as well when quick decisions are needed.
5.) Commanding: This one is the classic boss/employee style. It is the most used and probably the least effective. This one works best in crisis mode when you need to take total charge of a situation.
Another good choice to read would be "On Becoming A Leader", by Warren Bennis. Mr. Bennis is a recognized expert in the leadership development area. Here are a few comparisons from his book.
* Managers do things right. Leaders do the right thing.
* Managers accept the status quo. Leaders challenge it.
* Managers ask how and when. Leaders ask what and why.
* Managers rely on control. Leaders inspire trust.
* Managers maintain. Leaders develop.
* Managers administer. Leaders innovate.
I think this goes back to our earlier discussion on trust. Leaders aren't afraid to allow those in their charge to grow and to accept new responsibility. They aren't threatened by talented people in their group. They don't try to hold back positive initiative.
Because of this inner confidence, great leaders actually inspire even more confidence as they allow others to grow, all the while strengthening the entire group, team, family or organization.
And here is in my opinion, the best leadership development book. It is written by John Maxwell and the title is,"The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership."
This is an amazing reference source. John Maxwell lays out these 21 laws in precise order. They cover all of the leadership styles we've gone over on this page and he provides excellent examples of the rules in action.
I have two favorites out of the 21 listed in this edition. The Law Of The Lid states that leadership ability determines a person's level of effectiveness. He uses the story of the McDonald brothers taking their little hamburger stand to a certain level. But it took Ray Kroc's leadership skills to move that business to the top.
And then Maxwell writes about how Steve Wozniak was the brains behind Apple computers, but the great leadership aptitude of Steve Jobs ignited the growth of that company.
I also like the Law of E.F. Hutton. It states that when the real leader speaks, the people listen. That is so true in every area of life.
As a bonus suggestion, when you finish this book, grab his companion compilation entitled, "The 21 Most Powerful Minutes In A Leader's Day." I was able to meet John Maxwell when he discussed this book. The subtitle states it will "revitalize your spirit and empower your leadership." Books do empower as the name of our website tells you!
All leadership styles can become part of your repertoire. You will adapt to the needs of the group you are leading because you've become empowered by the knowledge in these three books.
I like uplifting quotes. Here are some great messages to help you get past tough spots and to show what can be accomplished with some study, some belief, and some persistence.
Now you can go out and make a positive difference and help create more leaders. Together everyone achieves maximum.
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