The understanding of what corporate culture is and how it shapes businesses has undergone a radical shift over the past 20 years. Your people spend about a third of their life at work, and the environment you create for them matters. Old styles of leadership based on the ideas of conformity, falling in line, and overworking as a rule, don’t work anymore. These outdated methods lead to resentment, low productivity, and toxic working conditions.
Luckily, there are 21st century leadership styles that not only help you create a healthy company culture, they also increase productivity and inspire loyalty in your people. Who doesn’t want to reduce turnover and save millions, right? Not to mention, when you have good people, you want to keep them happy and growing with the company.
Here are just a few leadership styles that are effective for businesses of all kinds and sizes, as well as information on the skills each type of leader needs to develop and how to become more aligned with the leadership style that resonates with you most.
Personal Power Leaders
These leaders are advocates for emotional intelligence, employee development, and innovation in the workplace. They know the most important thing is for each person in the company to understand that they have a voice and a place there. Team members who are included and have a sense of belonging are more productive, creative, and engaged than their counterparts. To these leaders, their teams aren’t human capital, they’re the fuel that keeps the engine pumping to take the rocketship to the moon.
Personal power leaders also continually work on their personal and professional development to more effectively guide their team members. They focus on areas such as emotional intelligence, leadership training, high performance, and communication because they know this is what most powerfully affects their team and the company’s bottom line. The area these leaders most need to focus on to go to the next level is identifying their team’s individual strengths and weaknesses in order to delegate in a way that everyone wins.
If you’re looking to become this type of leader, here are your initial action steps:
- Identify places in your work and life where you can take greater responsibility. Where are you making excuses or blaming others? How are you not showing up fully? By being honest with yourself about these things, you’re able to take effective action and turn it around. Personal power leaders take responsibility for themselves and for their teams, which in turn, influences their team members to take responsibility for their work.
- Pick one area to further develop. When you’re looking at which leadership skill you should develop first, think about the one that you’re okay at but could use some work. You don’t want to start with something that is difficult for you. It takes significantly more time and energy to develop a sucky skill than a mediocre skill. Plus, by focusing on the mediocre skill, you can build the foundation your sucky skills need to become great skills faster. Give yourself an easier win, and start with something you’re not struggling with at first.
Silent leaders let their actions do most of the talking. They set the expectations by living them. Silent leaders are dedicated to their teams and companies with conviction. This leader thinks deeply and thoroughly but may struggle to communicate effectively with their team. Team members may mistake the silent leader’s deep thought process for being cold or unattached. Silent leaders have strong feelings, but they consider the many possible outcomes before making decisions because they understand that their decisions will affect everyone on their team (and possibly everyone at the company). Silent leaders are known for being a little more serious, and they look out for the good of their team.
This leadership type excels with critical and analytical thinking skills. They often see solutions others don’t because of the various ways they can shift their view of the circumstances. Silent leaders value their team’s innovation, creativity, and brilliance. When they are pitched a thoughtful idea, their inner life jumps for joy, even if all that’s outwardly expressed is a “good job” and a nod. Silent leaders most need to work on their communication and emotional intelligence skills to better relate to their team members and make it clear that team members are in a safe working environment.
If you’re looking to become this kind of leader, here are your first action steps:
- Develop a love for solving problems. Problems are simply opportunities for new and better solutions. Silent leaders know that the right solution can be the difference between losing $1,000,000 and making $10,000,000. If problems make you uncomfortable or nervous, start practicing problem-solving in places like escape rooms, strategic board games, or puzzles. The more you learn to see the variables at play in different ways, the quicker you’ll find innovative and effective solutions.
- Think before you speak. With the age of instant gratification omnipresent, it’s easy to feel like the second someone brings a situation to your attention that you must respond. Not so. Silent leaders are great at creating the space they need to make the best decision possible. When you’re facing a problem, thank the team member for letting you know and tell them you’ll noodle on some ideas. Then actually give yourself the space to creatively problem solve. When you feel ready, you bring your ideas back to the team for some final tweaks.
Gregarious leaders are often the life of the party. They are warmly thought of by their team because they’re charming, well-spoken, and magnetic. These leaders have a way of making you feel special with a simple smile or a couple of words of affirmation. This leadership style instills loyalty and inspires their team members. They’re great captains of the ship, but they often need a right-hand navigator to make sure things stay on track. Gregarious leaders are excellent for building team morale, and their skills for revenue generation and relationship building are legendary. This leadership style creates a safe and accepting work environment where most team members are comfortable coming to them with problems, concerns, or ideas.
Where these leaders need a little bit of development is in their awareness of inclusivity. Because these leaders are endearing to others, they are usually inundated with attention. This can lead to quieter or more reserved team members either feeling ignored or like an outsider because it’s easy for them to be overlooked. It’s important for gregarious leaders to be aware of this because these feelings can lead to resentment and active disengagement. By consistently improving on high performance and inclusivity, gregarious leaders become well rounded, powerful leaders that develop winning teams.
If you’re looking to become a more gregarious leader, here are your first action steps:
- Study communication, body language, and consent. What you feel can be a harmless pat on the shoulder or hug could accidentally make a member of your team feel uncomfortable. Learning how to ask for consent and communicate effectively will help you build emotional bonds with those around you while reinforcing that you value their voice and individuality. Plus, when you create a safe place for your team to respectfully say no, you create an environment for their creativity to flourish because their energy isn’t going toward protecting themselves.
- Get (and stay!) uncomfortable. Gregarious leaders aren’t always 100% comfortable being the center of attention. They may get used to it, but there are still nerves involved more often than you’d think. The key is not to wait until you’re ready to put yourself out there. The idea is to choose to be outgoing with your team and embrace the attention. The more you make the choice, the more it’ll become your default.
All leaders need personal and professional development work, just like their teams. Making it a priority and creating awareness around the areas you need to strengthen allows you to become a more effective and respected leader. This leads to a more profitable and innovative company that is trusted in their industry and creates raving fans for their brand.
What area of growth will you focus on next?