Maybe you lead by the power of your personality or by recognizing which team members can best handle what tasks and letting them go.
Or do you inspire everyone to share your passion and vision?
You have probably developed a style of leadership that’s carried you this far, but is that style most effective for every task or with every group of co-workers? Probably not.
Great leaders regularly reinvent themselves because there isn't one best leadership style. In fact, staying with one leadership style can become a trap, said University of Notre Dame instructor Dr. J. Michael Crant.
Good leaders are comfortable switching leadership styles depending on the situation.
Effective leaders know the style of leadership that works with a group of experienced and motivated veterans could fail with a group of workers who have poor attitudes and don’t understand their roles.
Good leaders must constantly assess and adapt their styles to meet different situations.
But how do you know when your leadership style needs a fresh look?
It could be when a new task arises, when you work with a new group of people or when your responsibilities shift.
But which is the right style to adapt when you need to make a change? There are a number that can fit the situation and work with your personality.
These are leaders who are focused on the task. They emphasize setting schedules and give specific guidance to subordinates. They will give clear instructions and set expectations. This type of leader will exhort subordinates to achieve the goals. This leadership style may work best with a less experienced or skilled team.
These leaders are friendly and show concern for employees’ needs while working to develop relationships. Communication is open. This style is useful for forming solid relationships with subordinates. These leaders will look out for their employees and tend to create workplaces with high morale and positive employee attitudes.
Participative leaders give employees a voice in decisions and frequently seek their opinions. Then they will use those suggestions, which creates buy-in and acceptance and shows subordinates they have a value to the workplace. They may give authority to subordinates who have talents and skills to accomplish goals. This style works well with a seasoned team.
These are leaders who challenge employees and set highly difficult goals. They expect top performance from subordinates and maintain the same level of expectations for themselves. Achievement-oriented leaders try to create conditions where employees can reach those lofty goals. They lead through inspiration and example.
Effective leaders must be comfortable shifting among these roles, depending on the situation, Crant said in a lecture about leadership. The situation should determine what style a leader selects.
The ultimate lesson is that there is no secret to leadership. Good leaders know they have to constantly shift their roles based on the situation's demands. Learning what role to assume at the right time and being able to reinvent yourself are the lessons that every good leader learns.
Michael Crant is senior faculty member in the Department of Management at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. He teaches business topics in the University of Notre Dame’s Stayer Center for Executive Education’s 100% online Executive Certificate Programs in Business Administration and Management. Crant is internationally known for his research on proactive behavior at work and has developed the “proactive personality scale,” which is the most frequently used measure of proactivity in the field of management.
See Frequently Asked Questions for online requirements, accreditation, class schedule and more.