People often associate Leadership to higher positions, top management roles & inspirational figures. I remember in my very first job, I wasn’t that confident of myself & was petrified that if I speak up, people would judge me. I didn’t need that unnecessary attention and just wanted to get on with my work even when I had the urge to put my point across the team. Luckily I had a very inspiring personality as my boss who sensed that I was more of a leader than a follower. He ended up assigning me a project with a team to manage and my life changed after that! Let me explain how:

When people say “Leaders are born, not made” I instantly disagree (not completely though) but I don’t nod my head in approval. We as humans tend to follow a lot written in our books, go by what everyone agrees to and think twice before identifying our own strengths (unless otherwise). When my first boss handed over the project to me, he not only identified my leadership skills but also took a big risk of believing his judgement. He played a gamble on his instincts and gave me a chance to acknowledge my leadership qualities. Not being modest here, but I did achieve better than expected, my team was happy & felt appreciated and I learned a lot leading them myself.

You might be a “Democratic Leader” which is known to be commonly effective where you take the final call but everyone has a say in decision making. Or you might be an “Autocratic Leader” known to be least effective where you make your own decisions without any inputs from anyone. Nowadays, companies seem to be following “laissez-faire” style again where its left to employees to do what they want & how they want (No Performance Appraisals anymore?). “Strategic Leadership” is the most common as well nowadays where strategic leaders sit across involving multiple employees at once. New creative companies are also adapting to “Transformational Leadership” where the leader pushes employees to think out of the box and get out their comfort one seems to be extremely motivating, however, it may risk losing sight of individual learning and raise questions on needs of effective coaching. One more very commonly used style may be “Transactional Leadership” (more like barter system) where you get rewarded precisely for the work you do (Marketing, Sales Incentives etc.)

Well, in my opinion, you are not a leader if you do not have the capacity to make, break or lead a strategy. I would personally choose progression than sustained success (Now that’s just me, I hunt for challenges & ongoing progression motivate me as a Leader). No matter which leadership style you adopt (you don’t have to go by what’s acceptable in HR books), one has to focus on the key areas such as:

  • Lead with a goal in mind
  • Focus – Intent &Outcome
  • Be open to Learning (Even if you are CEO of a company or a LinkedIn celebrity with more than 10,000 followers), you still have lots to learn
  • Participate, don’t Dictate
  • Appreciate (Sometimes a “Thank you” is enough)
  • Respond, Don’t React
  • Encourage planning not just making plans
  • Be Adaptable & Flexible (Sometimes plan A may not work you see)

I watched “Godfather” again the other day and in spite of being an authoritative figure, he did have some positive points such as if you noticed, he was a very good listener, delegated effectively & always had his assistant take notes. No, I am not saying he was the type of leader I suggest everyone becomes but we got to give that guy some credit.

I believe, successful & effective leaders should follow a combination of styles as they not only have to lead but also run a prosperous business. If you follow a particular leadership style, you may experience a disconnect between people you are trying to lead. You may be a democratic leader but people may question your input or contribution and claiming that by the end of it may not be possible. At the same time, being too authoritative and having a pool of “yes man” may restrict your organisational growth with limited ideas & innovative strategies. In my opinion, Leadership is often correlated with your personality type as well. Just because you are not an extrovert or you don’t talk too much, doesn’t mean you are less of a leader. Maybe your strengths are being an effective listener which is most commonly missing in the top management.

Identifying your leadership style does not have to be labelled by all means, as it may need years of hard work, recognition & climbing the ladder. However, what is easy is to recognize your leadership skills, start building them from the start (Like I personally did from my first job onwards) and work towards establishing it to the strongest possible. You will or may make mistakes in your journey but learning from them & resolving them would become your greatest assets in the later run.

“Leadership style is the manner and approach of providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people. As seen by the employees, it includes the total pattern of explicit and implicit actions performed by their leader” (Newstrom, Davis, 1993)

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