Leaders flex their leadership style according to circumstances. Rather than having one preferred or dominant style, you need to be able to shift the way you lead between the four core styles of leadership to suit the current situation and the individuals on your team: Controlling, Coaching, Consulting and Collaborating.
Here at Lighthouse, we want to help you be the best manager you can be. No matter if you’re brand new to management, struggling with a team that feels lost, or a wily veteran confident in your skills, there’s always room for improvement. Below our 8 things you can do now to make you a better leader in 2016.
As president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes”,1 his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns.2 Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest – no doubt that helped during some tense moments in the White House!
Without a doubt, running a company is serious business. Products and services must be sold and delivered, and money must be made. Despite the gravity of these responsibilities, successful leaders make their organizations fun places to work. Instead of having employees who look for every possible reason to call in sick or to arrive to work late or go home early, organizations work hard and play hard end up with a more loyal, energized workforce.
A small Seattle coffee retailer has become 20,000 shops worldwide under Schultz’s leadership (SBUX), with many more planned. Crucially, he understood that he was creating an experience, not selling a product. Far ahead of most CEOs, he saw the value of offering medical insurance to all employees, even part-timers, and pursuing environmental and social that inspire employees and attract customers.
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Those who had observed Nelson Mandela closely said he always carried himself as someone who was born to lead, who knew the meaning of leadership. As an icon of freedom and the most vivid example of the power of forgiveness and reconciliation, he displayed a conspicuous sense of dignity and humanity that nothing in 27 years of imprisonment had been capable of destroying. As an activist and a guerrilla leader he challenged the apartheid state and was prepared to die for the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all people live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. In 1994 he led the African National Congress into government in South Africa.
Can you remember when you last listened to someone without interruptions or distractions from either telephone calls or drop-in visitors, when you just focused intently on the person speaking with you, ignoring all else? When CEO Alan Mulally arrived at Ford, he used a technique he had refined at Boeing. He found a way to instantly shift the senior executives on his team from talkers to listeners by changing the way he evaluated his team’s performance.
However, a true leader will engage this employee in a troubleshooting discussion—demonstrating his or her confidence in the person’s critical thinking. In this situation, ask how she thinks she can best move forward and add value. Once she realizes that you trust her to find a solution, she’ll begin to problem-solve on her own.
John Wooden, who won more NCAA basketball championships than any other coach, is a successful coaching leader. He had a very specific coaching model that focused on conveying information as opposed to course-correcting.3
5. Celebration. In today’s work environment, people are working very long hours and they need to take some time to celebrate their successes in order to recharge their batteries. Those leaders who fail to do this create burnout environment overtime.
A good manager needs to properly organize their team so their members’ new ideas can be turned into methods, protocols, or solutions. While a person with a high degree of domain expertise might be able to accomplish some of those feats on their own, without the motivational and organizational skills required to deal with other people, that person will likely not rise higher than their current position.
Take calculated risks. Step out of your comfort zone. Successful people think big and act big. Don’t wait for opportunities to fall in your lap. Sniff them out. Successful people make big investments (in their careers, in their businesses, in their education) and all investments involve risk. Study your risks, make sure the odds are in your favor, and take a leap. Be bold. Three calculated risks to consider:
Be personal and share lessons: Help your team avoid mistakes by sharing with them the lessons you’ve learned that got you to where you are. Never be afraid to give constructive feedback. Teaching is not only valuable for the one learning the lesson, but also helps you hone leadership skills through communicating and connecting.
Instead of blindly continuing his vision for the company, Hastings reconsidered. He apologized for his actions, redoubled his efforts to focus on content, and temporarily shelved Qwikster. Hastings let the numbers — and the people — tell him what to do.
Democratic leadership is good for boosting team morale and improving relationships between leaders and members. An open environment encourages a constant stream of communication and idea exchange. For example, the idea of Gmail was brought to Google decision-makers by a lower-ranking staffer, as was the idea of AdWords. AdWords is a huge revenue driver for Google and it didn’t necessarily begin at the absolute top ranks, but the top ranks weren’t threatened when a new idea came about.
Determination and drive include traits such as initiative, energy, assertiveness, perseverance and sometimes dominance. People with these traits often tend to wholeheartedly pursue their goals, work long hours, are ambitious, and often are very competitive with others. Cognitive capacity includes intelligence, analytical and verbal ability, behavioral flexibility, and good judgment. Individuals with these traits are able to formulate solutions to difficult problems, work well under stress or deadlines, adapt to changing situations, and create well-thought-out plans for the future. Howell provides examples of Steve Jobs and Abraham Lincoln as encompassing the traits of determination and drive as well as possessing cognitive capacity, demonstrated by their ability to adapt to their continuously changing environments.
Other historical views of leadership have addressed the seeming contrasts between secular and religious leadership. The doctrines of Caesaro-papism have recurred and had their detractors over several centuries. Christian thinking on leadership has often emphasized stewardship of divinely provided resources—human and material—and their deployment in accordance with a Divine plan. Compare servant leadership.
Show passion: If you want your employees to be dedicated and committed to the vision of the company, you have to remember to be dedicated yourself. You want your employees to believe in the company, so don’t be afraid to show them how passionate you are about company goals.
The fifth and final characteristic of a successful leader is being responsible. A business owner has to realize that, as the saying goes, “A skunk stinks from the head down,” and a business does too. This means when there is blame to be accepted, the owner must be the first one to accept it. But it also means that when accolades are appropriate, they should be spread out among the employees. And when this happens, a leader is born.