Who is a leader?
A leader’s role is to inspire their team and help them be their best selves. This means being open to feedback.
Gaining leadership skills isn’t easy. Some people find taking the lead easier than others. But no matter your background, experience, or character, everyone has the potential to become a great leader, provided they take the right steps to build confidence and hone their skills.
To inspire and build engagement, leaders need to first look within and ask themselves:
- How clear and communicative am I?
- What is my leadership style?
- Do I practice what I preach?
- Do I keep the promises I make?
A good leader must possess the following skills:
- Honesty and integrity
- Ability to inspire others
- Strong communication skills
- Effective decision making
- Innovation and credibility
Any good leader establishes a foundation of credibility and trust. When employees trust you, you can inspire their engagement and loyalty in the company. This is critical when the organization faces challenges and you need to rally your people to success. Effective leaders can build strong teams on these five principles, the five Cs of great leadership:
Note: Not all leaders are bosses, and not all bosses are leaders. Leadership is an important trait at all levels but can be difficult to quantify.
The five Cs encompass the key traits that are considered the foundation of effective leadership: character, competence, credibility, courage, and communication.
By harnessing these characteristics, managers, supervisors, and team leaders can demonstrate a positive leadership style that blends fairness and authority. Strong leadership is essential for any successful organization, and effective leaders stand out for a variety of reasons. The “5 C’s” of leadership are essential characteristics that any effective leader should have. These are:
- Character: A leader’s moral and ethical principles are referred to as their character. It is crucial to have leaders who are morally upright, honest, and have high standards. Strong-character leaders inspire respect and trust, and they are more likely to draw in and keep top talent.
- Communication: Successful leadership requires effective communication. Leaders must be able to communicate their expectations and vision clearly to their team. Additionally, they must be able to listen to their team members, offer feedback, and provide assistance when required. Effective leadership requires respect and trust, both of which can be developed through effective communication.
- Confidence: Leadership requires a strong sense of oneself. A self-assured leader has a positive outlook on the future and is prepared to take the necessary risks to realize their personal and professional objectives. On the other hand, a leader who lacks confidence is less likely to believe they can accomplish their objectives.
- Courage: Effective leadership requires courage. Even in the face of difficulty, leaders must be willing to take chances and make difficult choices. Leaders with courage encourage their teams to take chances and innovate, which promotes growth and success.
- Commitment: Commitment is necessary for effective leadership. Leaders must constantly assess their dedication to the team they are in charge of and to their mission. When leaders are committed to something, they only accept success. Action is sparked by dedication. People won’t follow you without it.
These qualities are crucial for encouraging team members and fostering success and growth within an organization. By practicing these skills, leaders can move their organization closer to its objectives.
Effective ways of building Leadership Skills
While the five C’s of leadership give a solid foundation of what makes a great leader, how exactly does a leader go about acquiring such skills and experience? Below are some ways of building leadership skills:
- Develop your communication: Effective communication is the most important trait for any prospective leader. This doesn’t just mean being good at talking; listening is equally important in developing communication. It’s important to be an active listener, engaging with ideas and suggestions put forward by others.
- Step up to the plate and inspire others: Demonstrate leadership qualities by making an effort to positively inspire others. Words of encouragement can boost morale and productivity, and will also help cultivate your own self-confidence and ability to manage others.
- Keep learning: Many leaders aspire to bigger and better things, which mostly is through continuous learning and development, such as training programs that help gain new qualifications. Learning doesn’t have to be formal; reading articles or watching videos online can also be effective means of acquiring new skills and refining your approach, presenting new perspectives and ways of reflecting.
- Lead by example: A leader’s job is to energize and assure those around them. Effective leaders create a path for others to follow without hesitation. An effective leader knows how to inspire others to do great things. The more you lead, the more natural it becomes! Leading will become second nature before you know it.
What Is a Leadership Style and Why Is It Important?
A leadership style is a description of how a leader behaves and what methods they use to encourage, direct, and manage their team. It also defines strategies to achieve specific goals and implement these strategies.
Understanding your leadership style can help you see how people are affected by it and how your team members view you as a leader. With feedback, you can choose the best leadership style for a given situation and adapt accordingly. However, knowing your leadership style beforehand can potentially eliminate the need for feedback. Additionally, understanding your leadership style allows you to use and adjust characteristics from other styles when facing challenging situations.
Common Leadership styles:
With authoritarian leadership, a leader can set specific expectations and define strict outcomes, with one person in charge of the whole group rather than delegating leadership roles to others. This type of leadership has its own advantages, especially when the leader has the most knowledge to achieve set goals. However, if the group/project/company is under a time constraint, having one leader can be efficient but the team’s creativity might be sacrificed since their input is restricted.
Advantages of authoritarian leadership include:
- An established hierarchy.
- Dependable results.
- Fewer mistakes.
- Less time spent making decisions.
- Reduced collaboration.
- Increased turnover rate among employees.
- Limited creativity.
- The potential for rebellion.
Democratic leadership involves the whole team communicating and giving their ideas, while the leader makes the final decision. This leadership style can be effective and leave team members with valuable skills for future positions.
Advantages of democratic leadership include increased participation, additional insights, complex problem-solving, stronger bonds, clear vision, commitment, and job satisfaction.
However, disadvantages include resentment, procrastination, project delays, suboptimal solutions, unclear responsibility, and uncertainty.
While this leadership style can be effective, it requires skill and education. It aims to gain insight from all team members, but those lacking necessary skills or knowledge may not offer meaningful feedback. The effectiveness will depend on team capabilities.
The transformational leadership approach aims to improve or transform its goals. While each team member may have individual tasks, a transformational leader will strive to push each member beyond their comfort zone to achieve innovative results. As a transformational leader, you would serve as a role model to encourage team members to help achieve your vision. The advantages of this leadership style include:
- Reduced employee turnover rate
- Increased morale among team members
- Placing a high value on goals
- Not coercing team members to accomplish tasks
- A focus on creating positive relationships
However, there are also some disadvantages to this leadership style:
- Possible deception towards team members
- Consistent motivation requirement
- Team members must agree on tasks before starting
- Deviation from company regulations and standards
A transactional leadership approach occurs when a leader uses positive or negative reinforcement, such as rewards or punishments, to encourage team members to complete tasks. The leader sets defined goals or tasks and establishes incentives for team members who meet their goals. Rather than changing or transforming a company or organization, this leadership style focuses on following predetermined procedures or routines. The goal is to complete tasks efficiently by motivating employees through incentives.
Advantages of transactional leadership include:
- Creating specific and achievable goals that team members can complete within an established time frame.
- Increasing productivity and motivation among team members.
- Reducing confusion in the hierarchy.
- Being simple to follow and implement.
- Allowing employees to choose their incentives.
However, this leadership style also has its disadvantages:
- Heavily limiting opportunities for creativity or innovation.
- Not valuing empathy as a quality.
- Creating more followers among team members than future leaders.
- Little focus on building positive relationships.
- Difficulty in finding incentives to fit all employees’ needs.
- Primarily focusing on short-term goals rather than long-term goals.
Delegative (Laissez-Faire) Leadership
Delegative leadership allows team members to work as they please and trusts them to complete tasks that align with the organization’s vision. This leadership style does not dictate specific policies or deadlines for team members; instead, it trusts them to complete their work while leadership focuses on running the business.
The advantages of this leadership style include:
- Encouraging personal growth of team members.
- Creating an environment for learning and career development.
- Allowing for quick decision-making.
- Promoting freedom to innovate and increase productivity.
However, while a lack of defined structure may work well for some, it may not be suitable for everyone. The disadvantages of this leadership style include:
- Lack of clarity about job or task requirements.
- Isolation from other team members and a lack of collaboration.
- Difficulty in creating meaningful bonds.
- Difficulty in maintaining accountability in leadership.
- Low morale and a lack of encouragement among team members.
Delegative leadership can work when leaders have complete trust in their team members’ ability to complete tasks. However, some team members may need more guidance, meaning that this leadership style won’t work for everyone.
The same is true for every type of leadership style. No matter which style leaders choose, some team members will be receptive to it, while others may feel unheard or need more support than certain leadership styles can provide. Therefore, leaders need to adapt to individual circumstances and choose the leadership style that will work best in the moment.
Bureaucratic leadership is a type of leadership that strictly follows processes and regulations according to policy, with no room for flexibility. This leadership style requires team members to meticulously follow rules on how work should be done and to “go by the book”. Leaders consider input from employees, but reject it if it does not conform to organizational policy. The hierarchical authority structure of this leadership style implies that power flows from top to bottom and is assigned to formal titles.
Bureaucratic leadership is often associated with large, established organizations where success has come through the employment of traditional practices. Proposing a new strategy in such organizations is often met with fierce resistance, especially if it is innovative or new. New ideas are viewed as wasteful, ineffective, or even risky.
Although there is less control and more freedom than in an autocratic leadership style, bureaucratic leadership still does not offer motivation to be innovative or go the extra mile. Therefore, it is not suitable for young, ambitious organizations on a growth path.
Bureaucratic leadership is suitable for jobs involving safety risks or managing valuable items such as large amounts of money or gold. It is also ideal for managing employees who perform routine work.
The situational leadership style allows leaders to adapt to unique situations and choose the leadership style that will work best for them. This approach considers the abilities of each team member and how they can be applied in an individual situation, encouraging all team members to be flexible and adaptable.
Using this leadership style, leaders shift their mindset from telling people what to do to asking them to complete specific tasks. To start, assess the skills of each team member and how confidently they can handle a situation. Team members have different skill levels and motivation for completing delegated tasks. If you use the same leadership style for each team member, you may find success in some team members rather than the whole team. With situational leadership, you can adapt your leadership style to accommodate the unique circumstances of each team member, creating an adaptable and successful work environment.
To be successful with this leadership style, a leader must be flexible to serve the needs of each team member best. An insightful leader can assess the needs of each team member in any given situation, determine if they’re confident or insecure in handling tasks, and if they’ll need supplemental support. A trustworthy leader can build trust with their team members, encouraging a positive connection and communicating openly with one another. A problem-solver can adapt their leadership style to solve problems as they arise, helping the team achieve their goals. A mentor can guide their team members in the right direction, encouraging positive reinforcement and helping the whole team achieve their goals.
With a situational leadership style, leaders can motivate their team members to achieve more at work. By working with each team member and utilizing their existing skill set, they’ll improve their skills and help the team accomplish their goals.
Which Leadership Style is Best?
No single leadership style is suitable for all organizations or situations. Furthermore, there is no one correct way to lead, and it may be necessary to switch between different leadership styles. Therefore, it is necessary to know and understand all leadership styles, including their advantages and disadvantages. The appropriate leadership style is often determined by the following factors:
- The type of organization, whether mature or growth-oriented.
- The type of work involved, whether routine or creative.
- The level of experience and skill of the team.
- The personality of the leader.
Taking into account these factors will likely determine the appropriate leadership style to adopt or a suitable combination of certain leadership styles.
Effective leaders are wise, nurturing, and take fate into their own hands. They mentor those around them and can bring even the wildest dreams to fruition.
Some people are natural-born leaders, while others are not. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, everyone can improve their leadership skills and become an effective leader with enough faith and determination.
From the HR’s Desk