How to Develop Your Leadership Style

One of the dirty secrets of management is that once you get good at something, and get promoted to manager, you stop doing the thing that you were good at and start figuring out how to manage people. When this happens, most people are usually elated to get that promotion, title, and pay increase, but don’t always realize how different a management position is from what they were doing before.

How to Develop Your Leadership Style

We’ve all heard the horror stories of toxic bosses who micromanage and create terrible work environments, but what about the amazing bosses and managers? How do you become someone with a strong leadership style who inspires and mentors you?

Having an effective leadership style can elevate your career. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses in the presence of others is key to driving success within the workplace. It is important to understand your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as your teammates, to complete tasks more efficiently. Having an effective, productive workplace environment comes from the habits in which you demonstrate to your team. People will pick up on 20 percent of your good habits, and 80 percent of your poor ones, so make sure you are present when at work. Pay attention to your own habits, as they set a standard and example in the workplace.

What Kind of Leader Are You?

It is important to first understand what kind of leadership style you currently possess. HubSpot put together a great overview of different styles to aspire to and a few to avoid. Self-assessment is key in a leadership position and it’s not something you will perfect overnight. Think about the best bosses you’ve ever had – what are some things they did that impacted your growth? Take an informal poll with friends and colleagues and gather information. Start looking at famous leaders like Sara Blakely, Sheryl Sandberg, Whitney Wolfe Herd, and more. Compile a vision of what type of leader you want to be.

As a leader, it is your job to make your team feel valued. The best managers are those who lead from within and clearly communicate with their teams. Are you a democratic manager or more of a coach? Do you prefer weekly communication or a monthly touch base? Whatever style you employ, make sure you and your staff are on the same team.

If you have no idea where to begin, I highly recommend reading Radical Candor by Kim Scott as a starting point in developing your leadership style. Kim was a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and other tech companies. She was a member of the faculty at Apple University and before that led AdSense, YouTube, and DoubleClick teams at Google. Kim has seen it all and has a great understanding of what works in many different types of work environments.

Kim Scott Quote

Learn Strengths and Weaknesses in the Workplace

Learning your colleagues’ strengths and weaknesses can be a daunting task. An easy way to find out is to simply ask. Schedule one on one meetings with your core work team. Discuss what tasks they like completing, versus things they dread, or find daunting. Branching out, combine a team meeting maybe once or twice a month to fill any possible gaps that may be occurring in completing various projects and assignments. Another way to become a more impactful leader is to use one of the many personality tests available. These can be great tools to help you make decisions or figure out your communication or leadership style. They are also a great opportunity to connect with like-minded people or people who have a complementary personality to yours. There are a ton of different ones including the Enneagram Test, DiSC Assessment, Myers-Briggs, and many more.

If you’ve taken one in the past, I would love to know what category you’re in. As for myself, I’m an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs, a D on the DiSC and my top 5 CliftonStrengths are command, strategic, learner, activator, and achiever.

The Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a powerful tool that increases self-awareness and helps people become better communicators and more effective team members. Since 2004, I have administered this assessment to large (60+) and small groups (5-10) and can tailor workshops to meet any group’s training needs as a certified MBTI administrator and consultant. MBTI workshops can be half or full-day, depending on the size and developmental needs of your group. The workshop topics include but are not limited to self-awareness; leadership development; career development; conflict management; and teamwork.

MBTI Leadership Style

Build Value in Your Team

To build trust, you have to show empathy and show that you care about your employees. Be interpersonal on a professional level where your team can feel safe to come have a conversation with you, and you will not leave them astray. Being a manager is difficult because not everyone is a fit for each role or company. Having conversations highlighting each colleague’s goals is a great way to determine if they will feel fulfilled under your leadership. If you know they are in the wrong place, address the challenge or situation that is present. Be honest with everyone around you. People are more willing to do hard work for you if they feel it is reciprocated.

Help your “right hand” get that promotion if possible. Challenge your team to do something new for the next week to see if they find any effective outcomes. The Radical Candor philosophy allows everyone to feel like they are personally being cared for while being challenged directly on the area they would like to change/ focus on. Plan strategically for ways to interact with your entire team and understand the goals of everyone you are a manager to. Help them get to that next level. When you help others succeed, they will want the same for you. Being known as a leader who promotes, challenges, and changes people’s positions in the workplace is something everyone should strive for.

Being a manager is a lot like being a mentor. Help those around you, just as someone has done for you to advance your career. The skills that come from being a manager come from experience. Knowing how to plan strategically, resolve conflict, praise effectively, and getting out of your own way are the key pillars to being a good worker. Being a good manager comes from being able to teach everyone those skills, and how to capitalize on them.

Capitalize on Your Skills

If you have been in a manager position previously or were a leader/ supervisor, odds are, you have the skills necessary to drive success within your team. To be an effective manager that can capitalize on everyone’s strengths, one needs to have the ability to make effective decisions on the fly, be self-aware, be trustworthy, manage time accordingly, and possess interpersonal skills.

The common theme is simple. Start with yourself and spread the wealth. People who work for you want to see you succeed for them to strive for greatness. No one wants to work for a manager who is not producing effective results or challenging their team to better themselves. Set goals for yourself, the company, your team, and ask everyone what their goals are. Find ways to unite the workplace to become more collaborative, rather than competitive. Strive to challenge your team to do things more effectively and push their limits. Being a good manager starts with being a good example. Lead with habits and perform with skill. Practice everyday helpful habits to set a precedent, then hone your skills. Whatever you know, make sure you teach your team.

If you’re looking for more information on how to develop your leadership skills, I offer several different opportunities via individual and group coaching. Let’s create a leadership legacy you can be proud of!