Building On Your Leadership Style
In my work as a consultant I have discovered that there are four different styles of leaders. There is the visionary leader, there is the directing leader, there is the empathetic leader and there is the process leader. You might be asking how do you recognize yours and how do you build on it?
First let’s look at the differences between each of those styles.
- Visionary leader. Your main strength is the ability to see way down the road. You are able to see what is coming before anyone else can. You inspire others through what is possible. You excite others to the mission to get to the vision. You actually are contagious with your energy.
A great example of a visionary leader would be Steve Jobs. Steve had a great way of being able to say, “This is where we are going. I see that the future is technology that is simplified for all.” That was his vision and everything that was built behind him was to contribute to the vision.
- If you are a directing leader you are someone who is very focused. You are very clear on what needs to be done in order to get to where the vision is being guided.
So a directing leader great example might be someone like Donald Trump. Donald Trump is very directing, some would argue autocratic. With his style of leadership he is able to say, “This is where we are going. This is what needs to be done to get there,” and he is very specific and direct about how to get there. A directing leader is very talented at getting people to execute, getting people to get things done. If that is your style of leadership you are able to look at somebody else’s vision perhaps. Maybe you don’t have both of the skills of visionary and directing but if you are working in tandem with someone who has vision you are able to then articulate the pieces that need to be done in order to get towards achieving the vision.
- If you are an empathetic leader you are someone who is highly intuitive and highly sensitive to other people’s energies and behaviors. An empathetic leader is someone who can say in a meeting, “I am sensing that something is not being said here,” or “I am sensing that we are missing a very important piece of what we need to know before we move forward.” An empathetic leader is very good at recognizing that people may not feel that all of the information is there or that they are not feeling that they can give their opinion or their input and they are very good at gathering everyone’s input.
I would say that Oprah Winfrey is an empathetic leader. Although she is visionary as well she also has that ability to know and sense that there is more that needs to be gathered and more information needed in order to move forward with a decision. When she made the decision to shut down her show and begin the OWN Network she says in many interviews that she based that on an inner knowing, on an understanding that it was time to make a change and really trusting that her sense and her empathy was guiding her to her next level of success in her career and in her leadership.
- If you are a process leader you are someone who is very analytical. You are detailed. You prefer things to be written down. You enjoy structure. As a process leader you are actually able to guide people to see how to get to where they need to go. You might draw them pictures. You might provide them with a very detailed structured list of what needs to be done. You might list that list such as step one, step two, step three. Process leaders are excellent at helping people who do not have the training or understanding get to their level of success that they are wanting to get to.
So how do you recognize yours and build on it? Well, take a few moments and just think of each of those words: visionary, directing, empathetic and process. It is likely one or two of those words resonate with you. In my case, I am a visionary directing leader. My areas of empathetic and process are being developed as I grow and learn but my two dominant leadership strategies are visionary and directing.
So what does that mean for someone who is visionary and directing? Well, you actually continue to inspire and increase the passion of the people that work for you through your vision and you continue to direct but where we have the opportunity to develop is to look at how we can build on our empathetic skills and build on our process skills. Many times leaders who are both visionary and directing have to develop those two areas.
If you are more empathetic and process you are a bit more internal as a leader and your skills would be excellent at being able to sense what needs to happen and give people the steps to get there but you would want to look at developing your ability to incite passion. You would want to look at your ability to create direction for everyone to get to the vision. So as you can see with each of these leadership styles there is an opportunity to build on them, to grow from them and to create more success.
By the way, I would be remiss if I did not point out something that you might be wondering which is should we be developing all four of the leadership styles in order to be more effective and the answer is yes. What we want to do is recognize our primary style and then look at ways that we can increase and develop each of the other styles that we have mentioned. So for example, if your primary style is visionary you would want to look at building your process leadership skills. Most times when somebody is more visionary process is not necessarily a strength.
Now, if you are looking at this from a strengths-based, your main leadership style is your strength, but you do want to build your level of awareness and ability to play in those other three ranges so that you are a well-rounded and full-bodied leader. The exception to that might be someone like Steve Jobs who his primary leadership style was visionary however he was excellent at surrounding himself with the people who could fill the gaps of those other three styles. So he had the right people on his team who were directing, empathetic and process and he had the luxury that he created for himself to be able to just be the visionary leader that he was.