Is it the leader or the staff that makes a business grow or fold? In my experience over and over I see the ability for a leader to lead his or her people is not something that is based on money, experience or praise however an innate knowing of care, confidence, and clarity.
In many cases, the leader has 1 or maybe 2 of these traits and rarely all 3. See from the outside to the untrained eye being in a leadership role looks like a high level of delegation and assurances. However, depending on the staff, the overall objective for the company and the needs required for the leader different styles need to be adapted.
If as an example the business is in need of cost-cutting to adjust to a market downturn which may mean personnel cuts it’s no use have a leader that is focusing on growth strategies and isn’t comfortable with decreasing the workforce. The same applies to businesses that are looking at growth. If the leader for the business is used to penny-pinching and as an example may have come from an accountancy background ( nothing wrong with accountants btw) and is looking at every little cent spent possibly missing opportunities due to being conservative then they too have the wrong leadership style…
So how can you own the business and be a good, effective leader as well?
According to Bill Taylor, the co-founder of Fast Company, there are 4 different styles of leadership that we can dive into. Now just to be clear it doesn’t mean if you identify yourself as a particular type of leader you can’t also have other traits from other leadership styles. Nor can you adapt yourself to suit your business needs. It just means that your default style is based on that particular leadership style…got it?
Ok here are the 4 Leadership Styles
The Classic Entrepreneur. As legendary investor John Doerr likes to say, classic entrepreneurs do “more than anyone thinks possible with less than anyone thinks possible.” Leadership is about the thrill of competition and the quest for success. No-nonsense variables, such as costs, quality, profit margins, and savvy deals, are the metrics that matter. Sure, these leaders care about the values their company stands for, but it’s the dollars-and-cents value proposition that matters most. They love to build killer products and butt-kicking companies. They are, in Doerr’s words, and he doesn’t mean this critically, “opportunistic” — they revel in “the pitch” and “the deal.” When faced with decisions about launching a new product, or dealing with a disgruntled customer, or selling the company to an eager suitor, they focus on tough-minded calculations and no-nonsense financial returns.
The Modern Missionary. These leaders aim for more than mere business success; they aspire to success and significance. Winning is less about beating the competition than it is about building something original and meaningful. Success is less about making money than it is about making a difference and having an impact. Sure, economic value is important, but human values are what drives their passion to succeed. So these leaders may take risks that classic entrepreneurs won’t, even if the short-term returns aren’t obvious, or they may turn down deals that others might accept, because the financial payoffs aren’t as important as the broader impact they hope to make. These leaders don’t just want to run companies; they aim to turn their companies into a cause.
The Problem Solver. They worry less about dramatic impact than about concrete results. They believe in the power of expertise and the value of experience. Disruptive technologies and blank-sheet-of-paper business models may be reshaping markets and industries, but past success is a good predictor of future impact. So as they rise through the ranks or lead organizations they’ve built, problem solvers are the first to confront difficulties and identify new opportunities. Yes, they rely on the advice of colleagues, but ultimately they fall back on everything they’ve learned and seen to guide the organization into the future. These top-down, take-charge, the-buck-stops-here executives may be the most recognizable sorts of leaders, in terms of the image we carry around of what it takes to get things done.
The Solution Finder. This style is about incremental results and concrete solutions, but these leaders believe that the most powerful contributions often come from the most unexpected places — the hidden genius of their colleagues, the collective genius that surrounds their organization. They are committed to making sure that what they know doesn’t limit what they can imagine. They’re ultimately responsible for business results, but they believe that achieving those results is everybody’s business. These modest, humble, self-effacing leaders don’t make headlines, but that doesn’t mean they’re not ambitious. They believe that humility in the service of ambition is the right mindset to do big things in a world of huge unknowns.
In order for you to get an accurate reading of what your dominant style is, check out this quick quiz https://williamctaylor.com/quiz. What I like about this is then your ability to understand how you lead and to see whether your company goals actually fit your style. If it’s not a perfect match ( which is very rarely is ) then adjusting your style to suit is key.
Now I understand that it’s tough to change your stripes and that it requires time and dedication to do so however adapting care, confidence and clarity are traits that everyone can understand and adhere to. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to install care into the workplace. BTW I don’t mean we’ve installed a water fountain and that shows care. I’m more talking about how you interact with the staff by giving them the freedom to express themselves. It’s being empathetic when need be, it’s also understanding that they have a life just like you do and being protective and caring for their time is as critical as being productive. Confidence is showing strength and focus when the going gets tough, rather than waiving due to external or internal pressure, especially around money. Clarity is a sense of knowing you and the company will be alright. You are track about the future, you know that everyone is playing the game to the best of their ability and winning. It’s about planning and understanding that the map very rarely is the terrain and your ability to adapt to any situation you may face is an expression of clarity. Whatever it takes to get the goal done.
So whatever your style is knowing that you are the leader of your company and your staff are looking for you to guide and lead them moving forward. They are dependent on you and you are dependent on them to work as a team. Not everything you do will turn out the way that you want it to be, however that is a part of the leadership journey. Take this gift seriously and work hard to be a leader not just for the staff or the business but most importantly lead yourself by being the very best you can be!! – Nick Psaila