The Art of Authentic Leadership by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
As you strive to excel as a leader in your company, you’ve no doubt been inundated with prescriptions on how to be a good leader. There’s no question that you can learn valuable skills from the leadership advice you’ve read and heard. However, it’s also important to understand that there really is no “one size fits all” when it comes to leadership. If you try to lead exactly “by the book” or exactly as prescribed to you, it’s really difficult to be true to yourself. Being an authentic leader means learning to lead in your own style, being true to your personality, while still ensuring that you practice positive leadership traits.
There are essentially five leadership styles. It’s common to be a mix of one or more, as well as to be true to a single style. Which of these styles is most authentic to you?
1. The Visionary The visionary leader is inspiring. He or she is quick to tell the team where they are headed as a group, but they leave it to each individual to determine their own path to get there. Visionaries are very empathetic.
2. The Coach– Coaches love to bring out the best in their teams. These leaders are encouraging and tend to spend a lot of time talking with their employees, getting to know them well, and helping them focus on their individual goals.
3. Affiliative This leader focuses on the group, rather than individuals within that group. They emphasize teamwork and harmony.
4. Democratic Democratic leaders look for consensus among the team on where the group is going and how it should get there. This leadership style works best when the group is experienced, and each member is able to make a significant contribution.
5. Commanding This is the authoritative, military style of leadership. It focuses on correcting things that are going wrong. This style should be used with caution, as too much of it can cause employees to be dissatisfied. If this is your natural style, be certain to learn the art of praise to ensure your employees know that you appreciate them and their skills.
Once you determine your authentic leadership style, those “how to” suggestions may seem more relevant to helping you improve your skills as a leader. You’ll be able to adapt suggestions to your own personal style, making yourself the leader you were meant to be.