Successful leaders don’t always find success in the same ways or for the same reasons. There are plenty of different approaches to take when it’s time to rally teams, explain complex concepts, initiate change or build trust. Most managers eventually settle on a specific approach to leadership that fits the circumstances and matches the leader’s personality as they gain experience.
What’s your leadership style? Have you found it yet? If not, don’t worry – the process can take some time and self-reflection. Even after determining your style, the best part of being a leader is continually improving and learning how to be even better. As you take steps to determine which style works for you, try these on-the-job moves.
Plenty of these tests are available online to take on your own time. Find one test – or several, if you are concerned with the reliability of one test – and use the results to gain insight into your own specific preferences, comfort zones, social tendencies and priorities.
For example, if you have to choose, would you rather your team meet a deadline by cutting corners or produce excellent work that’s slightly behind schedule? Is it easier for you to delegate work to others, or do you prefer to have a hand in the day-to-day responsibilities of your team? These are the kinds of questions you need to think about when determining your leadership style.
What kinds of projects bring you the most personal satisfaction? Do you like creating things, making people happy, solving problems or reviewing data? If you have a passion for one specific aspect of work or leadership, bring that passion into your job. Maybe you like getting your hands dirty. In that case, visit where your product is brought to life or spend more time with your employees working on the front lines of your business. If you like psychology and helping your teams form strong bonds based on their unique mindsets and worldviews, try holding a team-building seminar. If you want to focus on generating new ideas, get your team together for a brainstorming session and focus on high-level concepts you and your team might not get a chance to think about frequently.
Get out of the workplace and exercise your skills by volunteering or leading a community project. Organize a stream cleanup or food drive. Help out with a community garden or shelter.
It’s hard to determine exactly what works for you unless you keep records. As you move through each leadership experience you encounter, make decisions, act on those decisions, and then study the results. Then, most important, record the results in a notebook or journal. This speeds up the learning process and helps you avoid making the same mistakes or learning the same lessons over and over.
Don’t rely on your own strengths alone. Leverage the talents of each member of your team and apply those talents in ways that hold the team together and move things forward. You may not hold every single skill and trait needed for success—but chances are, someone on your team excels in the areas where you struggle, and vice versa. Make this work for you!
For more on how to gain leadership experience and build your management skills, or to find a new opportunity where you can expand upon your leadership skills, talk to the career and recruitment professionals at Executive Alliance.