When we consider leaders we know, becoming a leader, or becoming a better leader, we naturally think about different types of leadership styles. Various experts have catalogued different leadership styles, from “relational” leadership to “transformational” leadership. For a quick overview of core leadership styles, read Arden Coaching’s “Become an Exceptional Leader: What’s Your Leadership Style?”
Over time, certain styles of leadership often become fashionable and touted as the “best.” The problem of course is that we’re not all hard-wired to be just like Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, or whoever happens to be trending at the moment. We all have our strengths, distinctive personalities, and particular circumstances. How do you develop your leadership style to become a better leader — but remain true to your core personality and values?
1. Forget about the boxes
While defining certain types of leadership styles is helpful to establish context, the executive coaches at Arden Coaching do not believe in putting people in boxes. Testing and determining whether you are “an ‘x,’ ‘y,’ or ‘z’ type leader” fails to take your individualism fully into account, ignores your specific leadership development goals, and limits your potential to grow.
We believe that leadership style development is most effective when we assess and match your abilities, personality, and behaviors with the needs of your career and your business or organization.
2. Focus on honing your strengths
For real change to take place in any aspect of life, it is critical to understand and evaluate your patterns of thinking. You cannot commit to a new course of action until you have taken this step. New patterns of thinking need to become habit. And, in order to “stick,” they need to be authentic and true to the essence of who you are.
We have found that the most effective way to evolve an executive’s leadership style and increase their leadership skills is to build on their strengths — to take what they are great at and use that in places where they most want to improve.
For example, it is estimated that from one-third to one-half of all people are naturally introverted. They cannot make themselves into extroverts, nor should they be force-fit into an extroverted style of leadership (for a wonderful discussion about introverts, watch a 2012 TED Talk featuring Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”). An executive coach will customize your plan and leverage your strengths as an introvert to build your leadership skills.
3. Embrace the power of emotional intelligence
The ability to establish your leadership style and become a more effective leader is based to a large degree on your level of emotional intelligence. This is not smoke and mirrors — it’s a real difference maker.
Building emotional intelligence revolves around developing your awareness of others. That awareness in turn enhances your ability to recognize a given situation, and improves perspective, listening and communication skills, relationships, and confidence.
4. Leadership has no on/off switch
As executive coaches, we believe that leadership is, quite literally, a lifestyle choice. We understand that leadership is an approach to thinking, behaving, and being that you practice 24/7. Great leaders don’t exercise their skills sometimes, or only when it seems necessary. Leadership is a part of who they are, as normal and natural as breathing.
To learn more about leadership style development and executive coaching, contact us at [email protected] or 646.844.2233.