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How to get the best out of your Team

How to get the best out of your Team

Seven ways to get the best out of your team as a Manager

With conflicting priorities, mixed skill sets and increasingly busy workloads, as a Manager sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how to get the best results from your team. Here are our top tips to ensure your team performs at its best.

1. Insist on excellence

Monitor your team’s performance, as a whole and on an individual level. Do not overlook mediocrity but rather communicate with your team members to identify problem areas and establish strategies to overcome these and maximise performance.

2. Establish trust

A team relies heavily on trust – trust in the skills of each other, trust in their Manager to guide them to success and trust in the processes and systems to help them get there. If one team member is unreliable the trust between an entire team can become fragile. Address individual shortcomings or poor performance directly in order to promote and maintain trust in your team.

3. Develop strong relationships

Building rapport between team members as well as between yourself as a Manager and those you lead is a critical success factor. Recognise the importance of personal lives, provide regular feedback and organise team building activities to promote strong internal relations.

Try to be flexible. Be accessible and make yourself available to hear feedback, discuss ideas and solve issues with your team members. Rigid management styles too often lead to heavy handedness and not all teams thrive in that type of environment.

4. Be organised

People perform better when they know what they’re aiming for. Set clear long and short term goals for each employee, which will in turn aid your team in reaching collective goals and organisational goals. Enforce deadlines, track performance and analyse each team members’ progress, providing them with tools and support if they need help to achieve their targets.

An effective team is more powerful than any one individual. Identify each employee’s strengths, establish clear lines of communication and delegate freely to ensure all team members are working at their optimum productivity. Delegation also stops Managers from doing too much of the day-to-day tasks, freeing up more time to invest in strategic planning, team management and professional development.

5. Mix it up

Establish a team that compliments each other’s strengths. A team does not function as effectively if it lacks diversity. Different personalities, key skill sets and individual strengths must be considered when assembling and optimising a team, as these all contribute to overall success. It’s important for each team member to understand their unique role in the group.

6. Exploit potential

Empower your employees by delegating tasks aligned with their strengths, and try to give them a bit more than what you know they can achieve in order to challenge, motivate and encourage them to perform to their true potential. Also spend time developing and overcoming each employee’s weaknesses, as it’s important to have a well-rounded skill set.

7. Reward and recognise

A sense of accomplishment is a large contributor to job satisfaction and everyone likes to be told they’re doing a good job. Recognising achievements sustains high performance and inspires the rest of the team to go above and beyond too.

As a Manager, there’s a lot you can do to maximise your team’s efforts. Equipped with these tools, hopefully yours will achieve even greater success.

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The Failures That Helped Me Become a Better Leader

The Failures That Helped Me Become a Better Leader

Years ago, I was thrust into a position where I had absolutely no experience. It would’ve been easier if I'd had a mentor to guide me along the way. But sometimes, the best way to learn is by making mistakes… or even failing.

Here are some examples that helped me become a better communicator, manager and leader.

Assuming Expectations are Met or Understood

Just because information is communicated does not mean that the message has been received. Was the communication too broad or not direct enough? Were expectations assumed?

Case in point: A third party was hired to develop new software and I was assigned to oversee its implementation. But things quickly began to fall between the cracks. The third party seemed extremely overwhelmed and became reactive instead of proactive. Stakeholders were frustrated that their questions were not being addressed in a timely manner and they did not know the current state of the project. Internal managers began to question my ability to lead the effort.

What went wrong: Team roles and responsibilities were not clearly defined up front. Assumptions were made on all sides and I could not provide the attention the project needed to be successful. It was an all-around communication failure.

How to prevent: A project kickoff meeting is an absolute must for any project, whether large or small. Communicating the goals/objectives—as well as scope, timeline, team roles and responsibilities—to all team members and stakeholders is critical. Also, having a candid dialog with your manager about your workload will prevent you from biting off more than you can chew.

Making Reactive Decisions Under Pressure

Have you ever been in a situation where you were asked to deliver a project within an impossible timeframe? Instead of panicking, I chose to round up as many people as possible to help meet the deadline. But it didn’t turn out well.

Case in point: I was asked to manage a team of engineers who were assigned to develop a new product within a tight timeframe. We quickly put together a project plan, scheduled status meetings and began working on the new product.

But after a few weeks, it became clear that the team would not be able to deliver the product as expected. Tasks were not being completed on time and stakeholders had their own ideas on how the product should be designed. Because we were under such pressure to deliver, I began recruiting other engineers to assist.

What went wrong: Decisions that were made in haste ultimately led to the cancellation of the project. Throwing more resources at a project in hopes that it will get done faster will not end well. Taking shortcuts will cost the company money and crush team morale.

How to prevent: Planning is crucial for project success. Taking the time to understand requirements, design the best solution and ensure that you have enough resources with appropriate skill sets will increase your chances of delivering a quality product that satisfies customer demand—in a realistic timeframe.

Making the Transition from Team Member to Team Manager

Transitioning from team member to team leader can be a challenge. In moving into a management role, my first concern was to preserve the personal relationships I’d already established. Big mistake.

Case in point: After being promoted to a leadership role over a team that had become friends, I noticed a shift in behavior. I was no longer being included in certain conversations for fear of reprisal.

I scheduled meetings with each team member and assured them that nothing would change and I wanted to be treated the same as before. I would simply be there to help resolve issues, answer questions, and achieve success. As a new manager, I thought this was completely reasonable.

What went wrong: My desire to be treated as a peer rather than a manager led to many authority challenges. There was an expectation of special treatment and a lack of urgency toward assigned tasks and deadlines. I also made the mistake of sharing too much information in hopes that it would help gain respect.

How to prevent: When moving into a management role, know that you were selected for your skills, leadership and drive and accept that existing relationships will change. Effective managers have to make difficult decisions and can’t be everyone’s friend. Your job is to support and develop your team and ensure that efforts are aligned with company goals and objectives.

There will always be roadblocks, setbacks and even failure during the course of your career. Just don’t let them deter you from achieving your career goals. As author J.K. Rowling once said: “Failure is so important...It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success.”

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How To Build A Positive Company Culture

How To Build A Positive Company Culture

How To Build A Positive Company Culture

Company culture is an integral part of business. It affects nearly every aspect of a company. From recruiting top talent to improving employee satisfaction, it’s the backbone of a happy workforce. Without a positive corporate culture, many employees will struggle to find the real value in their work, and this leads to a variety of negative consequences for your bottom line.

According to research by Deloitte, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to a business’ success. Deloitte’s survey also found that there is a strong correlation between employees who claim to feel happy and valued at work and those who say their company has a strong culture.

There’s a reason why companies who are named as a Best Place to Work see so much success. These organizations tend to have strong, positive corporate cultures that help employees feel and perform their best at work. Research gathered by CultureIQ found that employee’s overall ratings of their company’s qualities – including collaboration, environment and values – are rated 20% higher at companies that exhibit strong culture.

But why is corporate culture such an important part of a business? Take a look at some of the benefits of a positive company culture:

    • Recruitment. Many HR professionals agree that a strong company culture is one of the best ways to attract potential employees. A positive culture gives an organization a competitive advantage. People want to work for companies with a good reputation from previous and current employees. A company with a positive culture will attract the type of talent that is willing to make their next workplace a home, rather than just a stepping-stone.
    • Employee loyalty. Not only will a positive culture help recruitment efforts, it will help retain top talent as well. A positive culture fosters a sense of employee loyalty. Employees are much more likely to stay with their current employer when they feel they are treated right and enjoy going to work every day.
  • Job satisfaction. It’s no surprise that job satisfaction is higher at companies with a positive corporate culture. Employers who invest in the well-being of their employees will be rewarded with happy, dedicated employees
  • Collaboration. Employees are much more likely to come together as a team at companies with a strong culture. A positive culture facilitates social interaction, teamwork and open communication. This collaboration can lead to some amazing results.
  • Work performance. Strong company cultures have been linked to higher rates of productivity. This is because employees tend to be more motivated and dedicated to employers who invest in their well-being and happiness.
  • Employee morale. Maintaining a positive company culture is a guaranteed way to boost employee morale. Employees will naturally feel happier and enjoy their work more when they work in a positive environment.
  • Less stress. A positive company culture will help significantly reduce workplace stress. Companies with a strong corporate culture tend to see less stressed employees, which helps boost both employee health and work performance.

One great example of a positive company culture comes from Sweetgreen. This fast-casual health foods restaurant believes that the most important ingredient to success is a positive company culture. Sweetgreen promotes a positive corporate culture by offering special perks that help boost positivity and morale throughout the company.

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez (2nd L) and Representative George Miller (D-CA) (L) order food at... [+] a Sweetgreen restaurant June 16, 2014 at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. to discuss minimum wage. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Some of Sweetgreen’s hallmark initiatives that have helped create a positive company culture include:

  • Family Fund: Sweetgreeen provides emergency financial support for employees during times of need. It’s funded through voluntary paycheck deductions from corporate employees. The Family Fund has assisted team members in paying for temporary housing due to a fire and has also helped assist an employee who needed to travel to care for a sick loved one.
  • Notes of Gratitude: Employers host a “Gratitude Night” to thank employees for making a positive impact on their customers. The corporate office reviews letters sent in from happy customers and writes personal, handwritten notes to employees who have helped these customers. This type of event highlights employee achievement and gives them some public recognition for their hard work.
  • Working with Impact Projects: Sweetgreen offers employees the opportunity to get involved with impact projects to support the community. Sweetgreen recently partnered with the LA Food Policy Council to revamp a small, family-run grocery market.

Sweetgreen is just one example of the many forward-thinking companies that are dedicating their time and resources into building a positive company culture and supporting the well-being of their workforce. Other companies would greatly benefit from following the lead of these companies and building their own unique, positive culture.

One of the best things about building a positive culture is that it can be done with any budget, at any size company and within any industry. As long as employers take the time to genuinely invest in the happiness and well-being of their workforce, a positive culture will grow and thrive.

Employers can use the following tips to help build a positive corporate culture at their workplace:

Emphasis on employee wellness. No organization can expect to foster a positive culture without healthy employees. Employees need to feel their best – physically, mentally and emotionally – in order to contribute to a positive culture. In many ways, employee wellness is a foundation for a positive corporate culture. Leaders should ensure that employees have the resources, tools and on-site healthcare opportunities they need to live their healthiest life – inside and outside of the office.

Grow off your current culture. Building a positive corporate culture doesn’t mean employers should completely scrap everything their company currently stands for. Rather than expecting employees to do a complete 180, employers should work on enhancing the current culture they have. Ask employees what they do and don’t like about their current culture and work environment. Leaders should use these suggestions to help create a positive corporate culture that’s appropriate for their workforce.

Provide meaning. Meaning and purpose are more important in the workplace now than ever. A majority of employees crave meaning and purpose in their work. Without it, job satisfaction takes a major hit. And a company certainly can’t build a culture without any meaning behind its work. Create a mission statement and core values and communicate these to employees. Give employees specific examples of how their roles positively impact the company and its clients.

Create goals. No organization can have corporate culture without clear goals in place. Employers should gather with their team to create goals and objectives that everyone can work towards. Creating a company goal brings employees together and gives everyone something specific to work towards – other than a paycheck.

Encourage positivity. In order to build a positive culture, employers need to start by encouraging positivity in the workplace. It’s essential to promote positivity on a daily basis. Employers should lead by example by expressing gratitude, smiling often and remaining optimistic during difficult situations. Employees are much more likely to engage in positive behavior when they see their employers doing so.

Foster social connections. Workplace relationships are an essential element to a positive company culture. When employees barely know their colleagues and rarely interact, there’s no possible way for a strong culture to grow. Leaders need to provide employees with opportunities for social interactions in the workplace. Consider weekly team meals, happy hour excursions or even a book club to get things started.

Listen. Being a good listener is one of the easiest ways employers can start to build a positive culture. According to research gathered by CultureIQ, 86% of employees at companies with strong cultures feel their senior leadership listens to employees, as compared to 70% of employees at companies without strong culture. Listen to employees, and make sure they feel their voices are heard and valued.

Empower “culture champions.” Similar to “wellness champions,” culture champions are employees who embody the values and missions of a company. They are excited to promote a company’s aspirations and encourage others to do the same. Identify these employees and encourage them to keep spreading the cheer.

One of the most important roles a leader has is creating a positive culture. Be sure to cultivate a positive culture that enhances the talent, diversity and happiness of your workforce. Building a unique, positive culture is one of the best – and simplest – ways to get your employees to invest their talent and future with your company.

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Leaders: Man Management.

Leaders: Man Management

The Secret to Managing People

For 10 years I’ve been using a secret for managing people.

Early on, this management “trick” helped me overcome a lack of experience. It worked like a compass… always pointing me in the right direction and giving me tools for digging myself and my team out of holes.

Later, as I taught this trick to others, I came to better understand its subtle power. It helped me to better understand and manage myself as well.

The trick eventually became a habitual practice for me. Now, when I’m thrown into any leadership situation, I rely on this tool more than any other to find my way. I’ve wanted to share this trick with my team for years. Last month I had my chance, as we hosted a leadership workshop for 23 managers in our business.

My trick is something called Situational Leadership.

It’s not something you can fully learn in a 2-day seminar, let alone a short essay, but it will still be helpful to give you a brief overview…

The basic idea behind Situational Leadership is that there is no single perfect method of leadership. Instead, managers should be flexible and train to adapt their leadership style to the individual and the task. Whenever somebody starts talking about management, people wonder, “What does this mean for me? Is my life going to get harder? Is it going to be more work?”

Let me ease your worries. This approach to management makes your job better, not worse. Situational Leadership is about giving team members what they need to succeed and feel great about their work.

Have you ever felt micromanaged? Have you ever felt overwhelmed in your work and gone to your boss for help only to have your comments fall on deaf ears? Have you ever wondered what it is your boss does all day as you plug away, bored with the same old tasks you mastered long ago?

If so, your boss was not a Situational Leader.

Situational Leaders engage with their direct reports. They understand the work they do and the challenges they face. They provide encouragement. They teach new skills. They advocate for you and your career with their peers and supervisor. And Situational Leaders leverage their authority to overcome team challenges.

Being a Situational Leader begins with diagnosing the development level of a team member. This typically happens by asking questions and observing the work of the team member.

For example, imagine you’re responsible for planning the company’s holiday party this year. In order for me to use the right style of leadership, I might ask a series of questions like, “Have you ever organized an event before? If so, tell me about that event? What was the hardest part? What did you like about it? What would you do different next time?”

All of these questions give me insight into your level of competency and motivation related to event planning. This is important to understand.

People often get defensive when asked probing questions. It’s natural to feel this way, but it’s a mistake. You see, there is no wrong answer. There is no judgment. Instead, it is an effort to understand so we can serve you and our mission properly. It takes a leap of faith at first, but I implore you to try it. I’m certain you’ll see the benefits.

Situational Leaders identify the development level of their reports by asking questions and observing behavior over time.

From there, Situational Leaders adapt their management style to provide what’s needed to reach the goal and move the individual to the next stage of development.

There are four leadership styles: Coaching, Directing, Delegating, and Supporting. Each style is a different blend of support and direction.

Let’s return to our holiday party example. Consider these two scenarios.

Scenario A: During my questioning I learn you’re excited about the opportunity to plan the party. I also learn you have planned parties in the past for groups of 20 or fewer people.

Scenario B: During my questioning I learn you have organized several events in the past. One of those events was a friend’s wedding with 200 guests. I learn you planned all the details and managed all the vendors. You’re willing to take on the project, but you understand it won’t be easy.

If I tried to manage these scenarios using the same style, I’d be making a big mistake. Clearly my report in Scenario A needs more direction. On the other hand, the more-experienced report in Scenario B only needs my support. It’s likely my report would feel “micromanaged” or “hung out to dry” depending on how I handled the situation.

Despite the leader’s faults, a committed employee could still pull it off through hard work and dedication, but it would be unnecessarily miserable. Hard work and dedication is critical, but it’s only part of the answer.

Situational Leadership is our “trick” to unlocking the best in every team member and making their progress more visible so they find their job more enjoyable. That virtuous cycle is a win-win for everyone and is the best way to manage people.

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Understanding Leadership: What you haven’t realized

Understanding Leadership: What you haven't realized

What If You Don't Want To Be A Leader?

You’ve been working hard—demolishing your KPIs, navigating the matrix, synergizing where synergy was needed, disrupting where they didn’t even know disruption was needed, nailing all the other corporate buzzwords, getting noticed by the people upstairs.

Here’s the kicker: You’ve gone and gotten yourself promoted to be a manager. Of people. So why does something that’s supposed to feel like a celebration leave you feeling as deflated as the listless “Congratulations!” balloon bobbing around your office?

Let’s all acknowledge something right off the bat: Work is weird, and not just because we have dress codes (even if you work in a hoodie-wearing culture, don’t kid yourself—you’ve got a uniform, too) and have to craftily pretend we aren’t browsing online a fraction as much as we really are all day.

The way we’ve set up career succession plans is inherently weird, too. We’ve been raised to believe that our careers are only progressing if we’re getting promoted to be the boss of people (even if it’s just the intern), and leadership has long-since subscribed to the belief that the best way to reward and keep the keepers is to give them other people to keep watch over. It’s just the way the weird world of work works.

We think we’re supposed to want to grab that Boss brass ring, because many our co-workers are clamoring to break out of the cube farm and earn the right to an office with an actual door. But what if the glamorized idea of leadership just isn’t for you? What’s a stellar individual contributor in a workplace that’s all about climbing the ladder, not contentedly camping out on the third rung, to do?

Give it a try.

If your boss is enthused to promote you, you’re either the best of the worst, or they might just have decent management radar and see potential in you. Why not step into the role for nine months while negotiating that you get some decent leadership development?

Many people bail on the management thing because they’ve been thrown at the wolves with no training at all and wonder why It’s So Hard. Be assertive and ask for more 1:1 time with your manager, arrange a mentor in another department, read classic books like “The One Minute Manager,” take a training class (like Lynda.com), or get a coach. Give it an honest try to make sure Imposter Syndrome isn’t getting the best of you.

Know you’re not alone.

The number of leaders who secretly yearn for the days when they were responsible for themselves—and themselves alone—it’s staggering, really. It’s one of the number-one reasons people come up to talk to me after I give leadership presentations.

I always throw out the idea that there’s no shame in not wanting to lead. They sheepishly whisper, “That’s me—I don’t really want to be a boss anymore. And I don’t think I ever did.”

Own your choice.

I’ll say it again: There’s no shame in not wanting to lead. The real shame is not wanting to lead and staying in a leadership role.

Step into your decision and be honest with your manager. Make sure you’re doing a bang-up job as an individual contributor—so good they couldn’t imagine the office without you—and talk to your boss about a future that involves you leveraging your strengths, independent of leading people along the way.

Lean…out?

Women have been encouraged to lean in and go for the opportunities—all of them!—and that’s amazing, and also not mutually exclusive to the point of admitting (notice I didn’t say “apologizing”) that leadership just isn’t the right fit for you, right now.

Making that decision doesn’t mean you’re blaspheming Sheryl Sandberg; it means you’re confidently asserting your own needs.

Career-killer vs. Career-cultivator.

Could it limit your options where you work, to opt-out of the management track? Probably. Could it get you escorted out the door by a burly security dude? Likely not.

Most companies are happy to have hard-working, achievement-oriented professionals who take on increasingly challenging tasks, even if they aren’t senior to anyone on an organization chart. You’ll need to map out what advancement opportunities look like—in terms of role, compensation, and title—with your boss and HR.

Some companies are all about the “up or out” philosophy, and if you’re in one of those environments, you’re obviously feeling itchy there by now. Scratch the itch and find a company where you can do great things, even if it’s not as a boss…maybe even on your own as a solopreneur.

If leadership isn’t for you, take the bold step to remain in or recreate a role where you can be an integral part of the team as the boss of no one, without a whiff of defeat or apology. Enjoying what you do and being spectacular at it means you’re taking control of your career, which is both inspiring and empowering.

The irony of all ironies? Putting the leadership track aside might be the boldest #GirlBoss thing you could ever lean into.

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Types of Leadership Styles

Types of Leaders

The 8 Most Common Leadership Styles & How to Find Your Own

"A good leader should always … "

How you finish that sentence could reveal a lot about your leadership style.

Leadership is a fluid practice. We're always changing and improving the way in which we help our direct reports and the company grow. And the longer we lead, the more likely we'll change the way we choose to complete the sentence above.

 

But in order to become better leaders tomorrow, we need to know where we stand today. To help you understand the impact each type of leader has on a company, I'll explain what a leadership style is, then share eight of the most common types and how effective they are.

Then, I'll show you a leadership style assessment based on this post's opening sentence to help you figure out which leader you are.

Why It’s Important to Know Your Leadership Style

Knowing your leadership style is critical because it can help you determine how you affect those whom are under your direct influence. How do your direct reports see you? Do they feel you’re an effective leader?

It’s always important to ask for feedback to understand how you’re doing, but knowing your leadership style prior to asking for feedback can be a helpful starting point. That way, when you receive junior employees’ thoughts, you can automatically decide which new leadership style would be best and adopt the style’s characteristics in your day-to-day management duties.

Knowing your leadership style may also remove the need for getting feedback. Each leadership style has its pitfalls, allowing you to proactively remediate areas of improvement. This is critical because some employees might hesitate to speak up, even in an anonymous survey.

Ready to find out which leadership style you might currently have? Check out the eight most common ones below.

1. Democratic Leadership

Commonly Effective

Democratic leadership is exactly what it sounds like — the leader makes decisions based on the input of each team member. Although he or she makes the final call, each employee has an equal say on a project's direction.

Democratic leadership is one of the most effective leadership styles because it allows lower-level employees to exercise authority they'll need to use wisely in future positions they might hold. It also resembles how decisions can be made in company board meetings.

For example, in a company board meeting, a democratic leader might give the team a few decision-related options. They could then open a discussion about each option. After a discussion, this leader might take the board's thoughts and feedback into consideration, or they might open this decision up to a vote.

2. Autocratic Leadership

Rarely Effective

Autocratic leadership is the inverse of democratic leadership. In this leadership style, the leader makes decisions without taking input from anyone who reports to them. Employees are neither considered nor consulted prior to a change in direction, and are expected to adhere to the decision at a time and pace stipulated by the leader.

An example of this could be when a manager changes the hours of work shifts for multiple employees without consulting anyone — especially the affected employees.

Frankly, this leadership style stinks. Most organizations today can't sustain such a hegemonic culture without losing employees. It's best to keep leadership more open to the intellect and perspective of the rest of the team.

3. Laissez-Faire Leadership

Sometimes Effective

If you remember your high-school French, you'll accurately assume that laissez-faire leadership is the least intrusive form of leadership. The French term "laissez-faire" literally translates to "let them do," and leaders who embrace it afford nearly all authority to their employees.

In a young startup, for example, you might see a laissez-faire company founder who makes no major office policies around work hours or deadlines. They might put full trust into their employees while they focus on the overall workings of running the company.

Although laissez-faire leadership can empower employees by trusting them to work however they'd like, it can limit their development and overlook critical company growth opportunities. Therefore, it's important that this leadership style is kept in check.

4. Strategic Leadership

Commonly Effective

Strategic leaders sit at the intersection between a company's main operations and its growth opportunities. He or she accepts the burden of executive interests while ensuring that current working conditions remain stable for everyone else.

This is a desirable leadership style in many companies because strategic thinking supports multiple types of employees at once. However, leaders who operate this way can set a dangerous precedent with respect to how many people they can support at once, and what the best direction for the company really is if everyone is getting their way at all times.

5. Transformational Leadership

Sometimes Effective

Transformational leadership is always "transforming" and improving upon the company's conventions. Employees might have a basic set of tasks and goals that they complete every week or month, but the leader is constantly pushing them outside of their comfort zone.

When starting a job with this type of leader, all employees might get a list of goals to reach, as well as deadlines for reaching them. While the goals might seem simple at first, this manager might pick up the pace of deadlines or give you more and more challenging goals as you grow with the company.

This is a highly encouraged form of leadership among growth-minded companies because it motivates employees to see what they're capable of. But transformational leaders can risk losing sight of everyone's individual learning curves if direct reports don't receive the right coaching to guide them through new responsibilities.

6. Transactional Leadership

Sometimes Effective

Transactional leaders are fairly common today. These managers reward their employees for precisely the work they do. A marketing team that receives a scheduled bonus for helping generate a certain number of leads by the end of the quarter is a common example of transactional leadership.

When starting a job with a transactional boss, you might receive an incentive plan that motivates you to quickly master your regular job duties. For example, if you work in marketing, you might receive a bonus for sending 10 marketing emails. On the other hand, a transformational leader might only offer you a bonus if your work results in a large number of newsletter subscriptions.

Transactional leadership helps establish roles and responsibilities for each employee, but it can also encourage bare-minimum work if employees know how much their effort is worth all the time. This leadership style can use incentive programs to motivate employees, but they should be consistent with the company's goals and used in addition to unscheduled gestures of appreciation.

7. Coach-Style Leadership

Commonly Effective

Similarly to a sports team's coach, this leader focuses on identifying and nurturing the individual strengths of each member on his or her team. They also focus on strategies that will enable their team to work better together. This style offers strong similarities to strategic and democratic leadership, but puts more emphasis on the growth and success of individual employees.

Rather than forcing all employees to focus on similar skills and goals, this leader might build a team where each employee has an area of expertise or skillset in something different. In the long run, this leader focuses on creating strong teams that can communicate well and embrace each other's unique skillsets in order to get work done.

A manager with this leadership style might help employees improve on their strengths by giving them new tasks to try, offering them guidance, or meeting to discuss constructive feedback. They might also encourage one or more team members to expand on their strengths by learning new skills from other teammates.

8. Bureaucratic Leadership

Rarely Effective

Bureaucratic leaders go by the books. This style of leadership might listen and consider the input of employees — unlike autocratic leadership — but the leader tends to reject an employee's input if it conflicts with company policy or past practices.

You may run into a bureaucratic leader at a larger, older, or traditional company. At these companies, when a colleague or employee proposes a strong strategy that seems new or non-traditional, bureaucratic leaders may reject it. Their resistance might be because the company has already been successful with current processes and trying something new could waste time or resources if it doesn't work.

Employees under this leadership style might not feel as controlled as they would under autocratic leadership, but there is still a lack of freedom in how much people are able to do in their roles. This can quickly shut down innovation, and is definitely not encouraged for companies who are chasing ambitious goals and quick growth.

Leadership Style Assessment

Leaders can carry a mix of the above leadership styles depending on their industry and the obstacles they face. At the root of these styles, according to leadership experts Bill Torbert and David Rooke, are what are called "action logics."

These action logics assess "how [leaders] interpret their surroundings and react when their power or safety is challenged."

That's the idea behind a popular management survey tool called the Leadership Development Profile. Created by professor Torbert and psychologist Susanne Cook-Greuter — and featured in the book, Personal and Organizational Transformations — the survey relies on a set of 36 open-ended sentence completion tasks to help researchers better understand how leaders develop and grow.

Below, we've outlined six action logics using open-ended sentences that help describe each one. See how much you agree with each sentence and, at the bottom, find out which leadership style you uphold based on the action logics you most agreed with.

1. Individualist

The individualist, according to Rooke and Tolbert, is self-aware, creative, and primarily focused on their own actions and development as opposed to overall organizational performance. This action logic is exceptionally driven by the desire to exceed personal goals and constantly improve their skills.

Here are some things an individualist might say:

Individualist 1: "A good leader should always trust their own intuition over established organizational processes."

Individualist 2: "It's important to be able to relate to others so I can easily communicate complex ideas to them."

Individualist 3: "I'm more comfortable with progress than sustained success."

2. Strategist

Strategists are acutely aware of the environments in which they operate. They have a deep understanding of the structures and processes that make their businesses tick, but they're also able to consider these frameworks critically and evaluate what could be improved.

Here are some things a strategist might say:

Strategist 1: "A good leader should always be able to build a consensus in divided groups."

Strategist 2: "It's important to help develop the organization as a whole, as well as the growth and individual achievements of my direct reports."

Strategist 3: "Conflict is inevitable, but I'm knowledgeable enough about my team's personal and professional relationships to handle the friction."

3. Alchemist

Rooke and Tolbert describe this charismatic action logic as the most highly evolved and effective at managing organizational change. What distinguishes alchemists from other action logics is their unique ability to see the big picture in everything, but also fully understand the need to take details seriously. Under an alchemist leader, no department or employee is overlooked.

Here are some things an alchemist might say:

Alchemist 1: "A good leader helps their employees reach their highest potential, and possesses the necessary empathy and moral awareness to get there."

Alchemist 2: "It's important to make a profound and positive impact on whatever I'm working on."

Alchemist 3: "I have a unique ability to balance short-term needs and long-term goals."

4. Opportunist

Opportunists are guided by a certain level of mistrust of others, relying on a facade of control to keep their employees in line. "Opportunists tend to regard their bad behavior as legitimate in the cut and thrust of an eye-for-an-eye world," Rooke and Tolbert write.

Here are some things an opportunist might say:

Opportunist 1: "A good leader should always view others as potential competition to be bested, even if it's at the expense of their professional development."

Opportunist 2: "I reserve the right to reject the input of those who question or criticize my ideas."

5. Diplomat

Unlike the opportunist, the diplomat isn't concerned with competition or assuming control over situations. Instead, this action logic seeks to cause minimal impact on their organization by conforming to existing norms and completing their daily tasks with as little friction as possible.

Here are some things a diplomat might say:

Diplomat 1: "A good leader should always resist change since it risks causing instability among their direct reports."

Diplomat 2: "It's important to provide the 'social glue' in team situations, safely away from conflict."

Diplomat 3: "I tend to thrive in more team-oriented or supporting leadership roles."

6. Expert

The expert is a pro in their given field, constantly striving to perfect their knowledge of a subject and perform to meet their own high expectations. Rooke and Tolbert describe the expert as a talented individual contributor and a source of knowledge for the team. But this action logic does lack something central to many good leaders: emotional intelligence.

Here are some things a diplomat might say:

Expert 1: "A good leader should prioritize their own pursuit of knowledge over the needs of the organization and their direct reports."

Expert 2: "When problem-solving with others in the company, my opinion tends to be the correct one."

Which Leader Are You?

So, which action logics above felt like you? Think about each sentence for a moment ... now, check out which of the seven leadership styles you embrace on the right based on the sentences you resonated with on the left.

ACTION LOGIC SENTENCELEADERSHIP STYLE
Strategist 3Democratic
Opportunist 1, Opportunist 2, Expert 1, Expert 2Autocratic
Diplomat 2, Diplomat 3, Expert 1Laissez-Faire
Strategist 1, Strategist 2, Alchemist 3Strategic
Individualist 1, Individualist 2, Individualist 3, Alchemist 1, Alchemist 2Transformational
Diplomat 3Transactional
Diplomat 1Bureaucratic

The more action logic you agreed with, the more likely you practice a mix of leadership styles.

For example, if you agreed with everything the strategist said, this would make you a 66% strategic leader and 33% democratic leader. If you agreed with just the third statement, but also everything the alchemist said, this would make you a 50% transformational, 25% strategic, and 25% democratic leader.

Keep in mind that these action logics are considered developmental stages, not fixed attributes — most leaders will progress through multiple types of leadership throughout their careers.

Know Your Leadership Style to Become a Better Leader

Knowing your leadership style can put you on the path to become a more effective leader. Whether you manage a big or small team, your style heavily impacts how your direct reports see you and how effectively your team works together to achieve your company's goals.