• Charlie Winn

What to do if your leadership style isn't working.

All leaders have a style bias, that is the style we naturally default too which can be referred to as your dominant style. This is often the dominant style we have seen modelled by leaders close to us like our parents or leaders we have looked up to in the past like a manager under whom we grew.

Daniel Goleman's research on Leadership resulted in defining six different styles of leadership, see the end of this blog post, from which we have a natural dominant one. However what can we do if that style isn't working with the business, department, team/s or people we are leading?


There are two main approaches to solve this challenge:

  1. Spend time becoming more aware of your leadership style blend, do an assessment followed by active reflection which is usually most effective with a coach. This firstly will allow you to be more conscious of your blend of styles allowing you to know that adjusting your style for different contexts will give different responses by your audience. A further step is to map the different contexts or audiences that require different leadership styles so you know which to use where. For example if your business is in Stage 5 (58-95 employees) as per The ReWild Group then you are likely to be implementing a formal Leadership Team with whom as individuals you should be using a Coaching style. Yet as a whole team the style that is most likely to bring out high performance of the team is Pacesetting, this style will demonstrate the standards you expect from that overall team. Another context could be whilst you are presenting to the whole company on the next years vision; then you're probably best to use a Visionary leadership style. Yet if a crisis is occurring then your business is likely to be best served if you kick into a dominant Commanding leadership style.

  2. Take a Leadership Team approach, having a team with a diverse set of dominant Leadership styles will mean your leadership team will resonant with different audiences and different contexts. The action is to conduct assessments on all of the Leadership Team and create an overall leadership team profile. Understand what the preferred leadership style blend for the stage your business is in and become aware as a team how you should be leading in your business lifecycle. Note that to create a high performing Leadership Team we can fit the overall leadership team profile with the leadership style blend best suited for the current business context. We can do this through coaching leaders to adjust their leadership style or we can adjust the make up of the team and bring in others with the needed gap of leadership style.

The two approaches both focus on becoming more aware at our leadership style either as an individual or as a team, then comparing it against what is most needed in your current context.


Goleman's Leadership Styles:

Coaching: focuses on personal development rather than on accomplishing tasks.

Democratic: approach works best when the leader is uncertain about what direction to take and needs ideas from able employees.

Pacesetting: holds and exemplifies high standards for performance.

Visionary: articulate where a group is going, but not how it will get there.

Commanding: With a motto of “Do it because I say so,” such leaders demand immediate compliance with orders, but don’t bother explaining the reasons behind them.

Affiliative: are masters at building a sense of belonging.

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#leadership #businesscoaching #leadershipstyle

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