By instilling a culture of learning, innovation and agility, business leaders with a growth mindset can put their organizations in the best position to achieve their long-term goals. But what are the attributes of such a leader, and what types of leadership styles should such a leader adopt?
It’s easy to point to examples of successful leaders for inspiration, and there is no shortage of self-appointed leaders dispensing advice online. But how do we recognize true leadership? What are the attributes that make a leader successful, and how do they gain the trust of those they lead?
For a deeper insight into leadership with a growth mindset, let’s explore some different leadership styles. Along the way, we’ll discover what type of leader 21st century organizations need in order to generate and accelerate growth.
Leadership styles and techniques
Leadership style defines the methods and behaviors employed by a leader in motivating and managing their team. Effective leadership can involve applying elements of different leadership styles and techniques in different situations. Furthermore, as leaders mature and learn, spending more time leading a team, they may change their way of doing things.
But the foundations a leader lays from the very start will impact the relationship they have with their team, their clients and other stakeholders well into the future. The style that a leader follows does more than just determine the immediate success or failure of a project. They set an example which filters down through their organization, shaping its culture in ways that have a profound influence on its long-term goals.
Let’s break down a few different elements of leadership:
Why is communication important in leadership?
A leader must be able to clearly communicate not just what their goals for the organization are, but why those goals are important and what their impact will be. This will make it far easier to get buy-in from all stakeholders and support for any changes that the leader wishes to implement. Furthermore, when new processes or policies are put into place, it is vital that employees can give their leaders candid feedback on what works well and what needs improvement.
Why is empathy important in leadership?
In order to really make this two-way communication hit home, it helps if leaders and employees can see things from each-other’s perspective. This is the essence of empathy, something without which it is impossible to sustain success in the long-term. A leader with empathy as a strength will be more able to trust that their team will be truly dedicated to their tasks.
The trust-based delegative leadership style mentioned above relies on the training and expertise of responsible employees. A great thing about delegation is that, by showing trust in the employee, the leader encourages their team to trust them as a leader in return.
In contrast to leaders who delegate responsibility, authoritative leaders rely on a high level of confidence in their own abilities. By dictating a clear direction for the team, informed by real in-depth expertise of their chosen field, authoritative leaders can be highly motivating for those working with them1. However, while the leader is an authority in their area of work, they must be able to accept input, even criticism, from their team. Otherwise, they risk fundamentally undermining the trust that teamwork is built upon, or even missing threats and opportunities they have overlooked themselves.
Transactional leadership style
This is a leadership style where a clear structure defines the role of the leader and each member of their team, through which team members are given recognition and feedback on their contributions. Because each team member’s role is strictly defined, this leadership style works where there are established routines that must be adhered to. The drawback of this style is that it leaves little space for team members to try new things or propose innovative ideas that may fall outside of their immediate area of work, but which would benefit the entire organization. This style can be contrasted with change leadership, which has a greater emphasis on agility and innovation.
Giving employees a sense of ownership when decisions are made, sharing the accountability and rewards for the outcomes of those decisions creates easy wins for employee engagement and retention. Leading a team while facilitating democratic decision-making requires candid and flexible multilateral communication: clear communication from the leader so that the team understand what is expected of them, communication from the team back to the leader, and peer-to-peer communication within the workforce. This flexible approach is well-suited to leaders that wish to build high performing teams with cross functional capabilities.
The T-shaped leader
T-shaped leadership is well-suited to large organizations in which there are many teams working semi autonomously on their own projects. The leader’s role in this type of organization is twofold: they must take responsibility for the projects directly assigned to their team while freely sharing resources and information with the leaders of other teams from their organization. This is a demanding leadership style that requires careful planning and rigorous implementation in order to create a structure within which innovation and collaboration can freely take place.
The transformational leader
As the name suggests, the transformational leader is one which brings about the conditions for business transformation. They require a deep skillset in order to successfully communicate the reasons for and benefits of business transformation, to get stakeholder buy-in and overcome resistance. A transformational leader must be able to plan carefully while maintaining agility, and to apply their planning consistently.
What is right for your organization?
If you want to generate and accelerate the growth of your organization, and you want to know which leadership styles and techniques are the best way for you to do this, why not read more about how experiential learning is the key to developing your next generation of leaders?