Your Leadership Style Defined in 9 Questions

what is leadership style

9 Ways to Evaluate Your Leadership Style


There’s a trendy phrase out there in the management world: ‘leadership style.’  But what is leadership style?  Well, for starters, your leadership style is the collective approach you take when looking across all aspects of being a manager of people.  Further, your style is your style; and it’s part personality, part skill set, part experience.  Ultimately, your leadership style is how you navigate your team through the highest of highs, and lowest of lows, as well as how your colleagues perceive the way you do your job.  And although there is no right style or answer, there are certainly themes that make up a good manager and leader.  As such, we wanted to take a closer look at this concept and offer some questions you can ask yourself to help you identify the type of leader you are.  Or, you can be really bold, and ask some trusted employees to see how they’d answer for you!  That said, here are 9 questions to help you understand your leadership style.

1.  When Is the Last Time You Did Something for the Wrong Reason?

While this is certainly a difficult question to ask yourself, ethical behavior is perhaps the single most defining aspect of your leadership style.  How do you handle situations that have a little (or a lot of) grey to them, and have no obvious “right” answer?  When the stakes are high and you encounter problems, how do you decide the way forward?  There are countless moments when you as a manager will face an ethical dilemma in the workplace.  Your decisions and approach to those situations can leave big impressions on your staff and peers – for better or for worse.  Ethics is the cornerstone for effective management and leadership in today’s business environment.

2. How Do You Handle Conflict?

How you as manager deal with situations of conflict is perhaps your second most defining trait as a manager, just behind your ethical standards as discussed in #1.  Conflict situations – be it a disagreement between employees, teams, or with your customers – are never easy to navigate and successful resolution is never guaranteed.  But like the decisions you make when facing an ethical dilemma, how you handle conflict can also have a big influence on how your team views you as their leader.  When you see a dispute, do you walk the other way? Do you jump in and take sides?  Do you offer solutions and drive towards compromise?

RELATED: 8 Ways to Prevent and Reduce Office Tension

3. How Often Do You Hold One on One Meetings With Employees?  … And What Percent of That Time  Is Spent Talking About Career Growth?

Ok, so this one is two questions in one but they go hand in hand.  One on One meetings between a manager and an employee are hugely important, not only to align expectations, but also to help you guide and mentor your employees.  During your one on ones with employees, do you just talk about tasks and deadlines, or do you reserve some time to talk about career aspirations, learning opportunities and other non-task based topics?  Part of being a good leader is serving as a watchful mentor to your staff.

RELATED: How to Develop Your Employees

4.  How Do You Communicate With Your Team?

According to an MRH Survey, 50% of people say that the most important characteristic of being a good manager is the ability to communicate effectively.  Thus, your communication skills have a large influence on your leadership style.  This is not to say you should spend all day trying to craft a perfect email.  But it does suggest that you should take enough care proofreading emails to make your points are clear.  It also suggests that eye contact and sincerity for in-person conversations are important.  And, since listening is a part of communication, it also tells us that effective leaders are also good listeners.  How would you rate your communication skills?  Would your employees agree with you?

5.  How Often Are Your Interrupted?

Interruptions are commonplace for busy managers.  People regularly drop by to get your signature, or to ask you a quick question.  But there is a difference between being a busy boss, and the boss who needs to be part of everything.  Are you making all the decisions?  Or, are your employees making enough decisions?  Should they be making more, leaving the critical ones to you?  Effective leaders delegate enough of the decisions to the point where employees and staff members do not need to stop by every 5 minutes to ask for something.  Assuming you have a competent and experienced team, your comfort level and willingness to allow decisions to be made by others is often a function of your leadership style.  (Of course, if you have concerns with an employee’s ability to make quality decisions, or they simply lack experience, that’s a different issue!)

RELATED: 14 Things That Only The Best Managers Do

6.   How (And How Often) Do You Reward Employees for a Job Well Done?

Don’t mistake being a good leader for just being the cool boss that just wants to make everyone happy.  However, effective leaders know how to motivate others, and know how to use rewards systems to foster high performance.  How do you use rewards with your team?  How often do you reward staff members, and for what purpose?  Bear in mind that rewards do not necessarily have to be monetary; rather, a ‘reward’ could simply be recognition of an employee’s contributions in front of his or her peers.

7.  When An Employee Misses a Deadline, How Do You Respond?

Your style as a leader includes both the elements of dealing with the positives (for example, employee recognition) and dealing with the negatives (say, when employees do not perform).  A critical responsibility of managers is to deal with performance issues and to hold employees accountable when commitments are missed.  Ask yourself, though, do you truly hold employees accountable?  One sign that you might not be is the existence of several “repeat offenders” who do not feel the need to do as they said they would.  But there is also the opposite end of the spectrum.  Reprimanding employees for a short delay in a minor task is probably not a good idea.  Like many elements of good leadership, a balanced approach to knowing when and how to hold employees accountable contributes to your leadership style.

RELATED: How to Manage Poor Performers

8. How Would Your Boss’s View of Your Leadership Style Differ from Your Employees’ View?

We can be our own worst critics, or our own biggest fans.  But it is often those we work with whose perception of us is the most accurate.  What do those we work with think about us as a leader?  Does your supervisor see you leading your team well, developing your staff and delivering results?  Do your employees see you as an effective leader?  Do they want to work for you?  Or do they try to minimize the amount of time or communication they have with you?  How your immediate colleagues engage and interact with you is often a reflection of your leadership style.  As uncomfortable as it may be, from time to time, ask for some candid feedback on how you’re doing and ask if there are any ways you can improve.

9.  How to You Go About Getting Results?

Our job as leaders is to deliver results to the organization.  Sales, Profit, Patients Served, Impeccable Quality – whatever is important to your company or agency.  But how those results are achieved is very closely linked to the leadership of the team.  Do you push each step of the way or do you drive the organization to perform in sustainable fashion?  Are you involved in all aspects of getting the results?  How do you learn from prior mistakes you made or challenges you faced in getting the results?  From the outside, customers and stakeholders may only see the results.  But from the inside, your employees and work team will see how you as a leader went about achieving them.

The Takeaway…

Your leadership style is the combination of a number of the topics discussed above.  The bad news is that your leadership style can often have a direct impact on your organization’s metrics, employee retention and your ability to recruit new talent.  The good news is that your leadership style can have a tremendously positive impact on your organization: it can drive high performance, boost morale, and make you a recruiting machine.  And there’s even better news: you can change your leadership style by getting candid feedback from trusted friends and colleagues, and then working to make changes.  Ultimately, as an effective leader, your approach to managing your team can help define your management career and lead to new opportunities.

Looking for More on Leadership?  You Might Like….

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