Leaders of companies big and small are always looking for ways to better communicate with their employees. A major question I am often asked is what is the best leadership style for engaging employees.
While opinions espoused by thought-leaders may differ, it does spark a deeper conversation into identifying your leadership style to determine how your style affects daily communication with your colleagues.
Rick McDaniel, author of You Got Style: How Discovering Your Personal Style Impacts Your Faith, Family, Finances & Much More and sought-after speaker to Fortune 500 companies, wrote an entire book about personality styles and specifically how those styles affect leadership in business.
"How leaders make decisions, motivate followers, manage change, launch initiatives, and handle crises is determined by their leadership style," writes McDaniel. "Leadership styles have a direct impact on the office environment, and each style results in a unique way of communicating."
5 Personality Styles
McDaniel shares five styles that will make a transformative difference in how you lead other human beings and propel your organization forward.
Visionary leaders have a crystal-clear picture of what they want to happen. They cast vision powerfully. They show how each person's role fits into the larger vision for the organization. "When people work for this kind of leader, they believe what they do matters," notes McDaniel. By framing individual roles within a larger vision, this leader establishes standards that support the vision. The result is a greater commitment to the organization's goals.
Harmonizing leaders value a person's emotions more than tasks and goals. This leader wants to form emotional bonds that create a strong feeling of belonging to the organization. This style leads to strong communication because people who like each other talk a lot. "They share their ideas, they are more open, they trust one another, and this results in greater innovation," shares McDaniel, adding, "This is very effective in seasons of high stress or when there is some type of trauma."
Producer-leaders focus on getting results. The producing leader sets high standards for performance and expects his employees to model them. This type of leader models these standards and is focused on doing things faster and better. But there is a downside, explains McDaniel: "The producing leader may know what he wants but not communicate it clearly. He expects people to know what to do. This can lead to employees second-guessing what the leader wants and wondering if the leader trusts them to do their job."
Collaborator-leaders forge consensus through participation. It is democracy in action -- spending time getting people's ideas and, ultimately, their buy-in. The collaborating leader builds a great amount of trust and commitment. McDaniel explains: "By letting employees have direct input into decisions that affect how they do their job, the collaborator increases their ownership. And by listening to employees' concerns, this type of leader learns what is needed for morale to remain strong."
Coaching leaders focus on developing people. Leaders with this style may at times function more like a counselor who listens to concerns and then guides team members toward a better future path. Coaching leaders help team members identify their strengths and weaknesses. They show how to use them for their personal and professional success and encourage the development of long-term goals and a plan for reaching them. And along the way, they give plenty of input and feedback.
"There is not one single leadership style that stands above the rest but having a firm understanding of the different styles will help you adjust your own to better communicate with your employees," explains McDaniel.
Finally, knowing how you usually communicate with your employees will provide space to alter that style when needed to handle a situation. In turn, an effective leader will choose the right leadership style based on the circumstances.