6 Effective Leadership Styles That Great Bosses Use

31 Dec 2018 Posted in ⟨For Business Leaders⟩

Whether you are managing a single intern or an army of employees, your leadership style will directly influence how effective both you and those around you will be.

Although everyone has a go-to leadership style that they naturally fall back on, it is the great bosses who are able to familiarise themselves with the wide spectrum of styles that are available and then utilise those that are most appropriate for the people and situation at hand.

Here are 6 leadership styles that great bosses keep in their toolbox and you should too!

1. The Coach

A coach views each of their team members in the same way that a sports coach views each of their players – as individuals who play a unique and extremely vital role in the team. The coach’s main goal is to work through their players by nurturing them and placing them in positions that they can flourish, while bringing the team together to work as a cohesive and effective unit. Because of the experience that coaches generally have from operating on the ground level, they possess the ability to empathise with their team and offer guidance as necessary. The main challenge for coaches is the difficulty in striking a balance between the macro (getting the best out of the team as a collective) and the micro (getting the best out of the player as an individual).

2. The Oracle

An oracle is a leader who has a vast amount of knowledge and experience in a certain field, or at the very least, much more than those whom they lead. Whether it is at a team, company or industry level, oracles are often perceived as thought leaders. Given the depth of knowledge that they possess, their peers are naturally drawn to them to provide solutions to the most pressing problems. Although powerful, the oracle leadership style should be used sparingly as its overuse can undermine one’s own authority by positioning themselves as a know-it-all. This can be avoided by viewing the sharing of knowledge and experience as for the benefit of others and solving the problem at hand, rather than to reinforce one’s own position.

3. The Researcher

In stark contrast to the oracle, the researcher does not hold onto the responsibility of providing answers. Instead, they leverage upon the knowledge and experience of those around them. By asking probing questions, they dive into the team’s collective mind to tackle problems and come up with new solutions. Researchers must be able to construct insightful questions, identify patterns, improvise as the conversation develops, and be effective listeners in such a way that they create an environment of inclusiveness. The researcher leadership style can be unfruitful however if team members are too inexperienced or do not feel comfortable enough to share their ideas.

4. The General

The general is very much akin to a war general who overlooks the entire battlefield. They know exactly what they want and communicate it clearly to all. Because of their direct approach, there is no confusion about what needs to be done, why and to what standard. Everyone knows where they sit and what they have to do. The general leadership style is especially effective in situations where a high level of order and efficiency is required. To balance out this leadership style, great bosses need to create feedback loops with those around them and develop empathy for their peers.

5. The Inspirer

Inspirers are experts at making people feel good and motivating them to act through a vision. Instead of being content with how things are, they strive to move everyone to create a better future. Although inspirational leadership is highly sought after, especially when a team lacks belief and is stuck in a rut of conventional thinking, there must be a balance between dreaming up a better future and dealing with reality. Use inspiration to inject a spark of positivity, then come back down to Earth to work out tactical solutions and actually get things done.

6. The Example

Similar to the old saying that goes, “treat others as you would like to be treated,” great bosses take on the maxim of “work as you would like others to work.” By leading by example, bosses use their own work ethic to motivate their peers and set the standard of what is expected of others. Although this can inspire people to think in new ways and push themselves beyond their current capabilities, one of the major pitfalls of this leadership style is that bosses may formulate wildly unrealistic expectations of what others can actually do causing them to be disgruntled or even burnt out. Everyone is at a different stage of development in their career, so great bosses must acknowledge their team’s limits and manage their expectations appropriately.

Want to learn more about how you can develop your leadership style? Get up to 90% subsidies for SkillsFuture-accredited leadership courses, including the John Maxwell Leadership Workshop Series and  WSQ Programmes powered by John Maxwell.


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