Leadership requires a delicate balance of strategy and skill to create an environment that inspires productivity. Not every leader approaches a problem in the same way, but plenty of effective strategies exist to help you get the most out of your employees. Here are a few ways to expand your leadership skills this year.
Understand Your Leadership Style
In 1939, Kurt Lewin and a group of researchers defined three main styles of leadership. They found many differences among the types and one, in particular, produces the best response from team members. The three styles are:
- Authoritarian (Autocrat)
- Participative (Democratic)
- Delegative (Laissez-Faire)
Authoritarian leaders provide direct instruction about objectives and how to accomplish them. Authoritarian leaders use a simple command and control model with little or no input from other group members. It works best in situations where there is little time for creativity, but can seem bossy and demanding.
Participative leaders are typically the most effective. They offer guidance for group members but also seek input and ideas from others. While a project may take longer with a participative leader, each group member feels like an important part of the process and has more meaningful contributions to the results.
Delegative leaders offer very little guidance. They usually sit back and hope that someone else will take the lead. Their groups are the least productive, and members make demands from each other that result in arguments. They are unable to help with cooperation or to help the project progress.
Understanding where you fall within these three leadership styles is the key to advancing your strategy. You will be able to determine what is helping your style and what is hindering your progress. Once you know, you can develop the skills you need to make you a more effective leader.
Discover Employee Strengths
Each person on your team has a particular strength, and it is your job as the leader to discover and encourage these strengths. When each member of the team uses their strength, it can make your company stronger and more efficient. Design your goals with these strengths in mind so that everyone has a piece of the solution. Taking the time to discover and encourage these strengths shows your employees you care about them and believe they are a valuable asset to the team.
Be Passionate and Positive About the Work
Passion and positivity are contagious. When group members see your enthusiasm to start a new project, they will follow suit. Encourage the same passion and positivity in others, giving deserved praise and being genuinely thankful for contributions from the group. The positive attitude will spread, making your group work more efficiently.
Be an Effective Listener and Communicator
An important part of being a leader is listening and communicating with team members. The only way to ensure you are getting the most out of your employees is through listening to their feedback and ideas. When you can take these ideas and communicate them effectively to the rest of the team, you can foster teamwork and keep everyone working together. Non-verbal communication is also an important skill. Watch for queues and clues from your team to make everything run smoothly.
Don’t limit yourself to one leadership style, especially if one doesn’t feel natural to you; a mixture of styles usually brings the best results. Once you have identified the style that seems most intuitive to you, start including elements from other styles into your strategy, strengthening your team and your production.