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4 Leadership Styles Every Leader Should Know & How To Find Yours!

emotional intelligence leadership people purpose teams Feb 08, 2022

We're all wired differently!

Finding ways to tap into the motivations of your team and even yourself can be incredibly difficult. People react differently to different situations, but our responses have drivers that have many commonalities. These buckets of leadership styles allow us to know what the best teams look and act like. Great teams are not homogenous units with the same set of needs, expectations, and actions. Great teams have a diversity of thought, input, and style in leading people and achieving their impact. Diversity is crucial. The best leadership teams aren't "Yes Teams" caught up in groupthink. They are quite the opposite.

There is no perfect leadership style, but situations may dictate how well equipped your people are to handle the circumstances. So let's dive into the strengths of the four leadership styles along with the ways, when taken too far, they can come back to bite us:

The Authoritarian (Dominance)

Dominant, authoritarian leaders desire two key things: Results and Movement. They typically find discomfort with external controls that hinder these objectives. The strengths of a dominant leader typically relate to motivation. They often move the team forward, inspire confidence and clarity around projects, and take charge to make decisive choices.

They readily express opinions and speak straight, direct, and don't often like to repeat themselves. Getting into the nitty-gritty details isn't their preference, as they tend to be big picture-oriented. Self-awareness and social awareness will often determine the effectiveness of a dominant leader. Without a high level of understanding, an authoritarian leader will likely lose their ability to self-regulate and lack empathy for the needs and challenges of the team.

A leader who lacks awareness will:

  • Push their team too hard
  • Get too far ahead of their team
  • Cause people to lose sight of goals
  • Create a "my way or the highway" culture

Dominant leaders often get a bad wrap with modern leadership standards. These traits often pop up when dominant leaders feel unheard, unappreciated, or tired. Their feel for team performance will lose empathy, and pushing people toward their best starts to feel more like an order, mandate, or grasp for power. The strengths of a dominant leader are incredibly valuable, and these strengths shine the brightest in times of change and chaos when big picture clarity is abundantly needed.

The Persuader (Extroversion)

The persuasive extrovert leader typically needs agreement, while they hate feeling a lack of appreciation or left out. Persuaders utilize influence, not pressure to lead a team. They are often skilled at reading people and recognize when people are not on board with decisions to win them over for increased buy-in for projects or goals.

When lacking self-awareness or a heightened level of emotional intelligence, they will:

  • Take over a room with excessive talk
  • Cut others off
  • Overload others with information
  • Take feedback personally

These sabotage patterns usually revolve around becoming a people pleaser or verbally overwhelming others with personal attacks. There is no room to get a word in, and they lock listening at the door. Opportunities for feedback become journeys down a rabbit hole that feel more like war stories than possibilities for positive accountability.

The persuaders are great team builders. They win people over toward positive action and energize the room at their best. Effective communication is their superpower, and protecting the sanctity of dialogue helps them value the importance of talking through problems so that the whole team gets a say in the movement toward the future.

The Persister (Pace/Patience)

The persisters are the glue to the team. They provide evenness and patience. Unjustified, erratic pressure and confrontation can knock them off course. The strengths of persisters center around consistency and stabilization. These leaders have the grit to stay with projects and see them through until the end. They have no problem following directions and enjoy clear expectations.

When lacking emotional intelligence or feeling overwhelmed by stress, these leaders will:

  • Avoid conflict and let it boil beneath the surface
  • Withdraw from the team dialogue
  • Feel like they're dancing on eggshells
  • Adopt a "get you later" attitude that fosters resentment

Avoiding conflict is the primary sabotage pattern of these leaders. They don't want to make a scene and minimize themselves in tension-filled situations, allowing codependency to take precedent over empathy. Therefore they will withhold feedback and play those moments around in their head, which could lead to bitterness if left unresolved.

At their best, persisters bring assurance to the team. They stabilize the ship and allow abstract decisions to become a tangible reality. These leaders appreciate endurance and check on the team. Since they usually aren't too high or too low, they seek to bring that evenness to the team for confident decision-making.

The Systematizer (Conformity)

Systematizers find comfort in predictability. They dislike criticism and disorganization. These leaders desire systems and adherence to structures that drive success. They are incredibly loyal, meticulous, and dedicated.

This leader lacking awareness or emotional intelligence will: 

  • Slow a team down to a halt
  • Become skeptical and need overwhelming proof to make decisions
  • Must be right and treat feedback as a debate
  • Protest change and protect "sacred cows" in the organization

These leaders need to be correct. They will sit back, gather the facts, and overexplain their position to prove their reasoning to be accurate. You may feel like you are hearing testimony from an expert witness in the courtroom. They can lean toward perfectionism and sit back with unrealistic expectations for themselves and others rather than choosing excellence. 

The systematizers bring structure to the team. They bring a level of conscientiousness to the team and help others slip into their most successful selves. They are prudent in their decision-making and seek to earn the rewards they get. They effectively remind others of past success and will seek to replicate those wins in the future. 

What does this mean?

Each of these leadership styles can contribute to your effectiveness. They bring results and great value to teams. It's easy to expect a particular ideal set of characteristics for leaders, but it's unrealistic to apply rigid personality expectations to diverse groups of people.

Seek to empower the leaders in your life so that their style feels included, valued, and heard. Build emotional intelligence within your team, so sabotage patterns rarely occur. Value the input of others and seek out different styles so that your team doesn't get stuck in the status quo.

Find your Leadership Style using the PDP Assessment and Consultation!

Schedule a Team Power Workshop to analyze the style of your team!

Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

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