#MTtalk: Exploring Leadership Styles » Mind Tools Blog

#MTtalk: Exploring Leadership Styles

May 31, 2016

©iStockphoto/PsychoShadowMaker

There’s a well-known quote by E.M. Kelly that says, “Remember the difference between a boss and a leader. A boss says ‘Go!’ A leader says ‘Let’s go!'” In reality, this is a differentiation between two distinct leadership styles. The first is a commanding leader; the second is probably a servant leader or a transformational leader.

The topic for our latest #MTtalk Twitter chat, held on Friday (May 27), was “Exploring Leadership Styles.” Almost 40 people participated and shared more than 500 tweets during the hour. A recurring theme was that leaders need to be able to adapt their style.

Here are the questions and some of the responses from the chat.

Question 1: What does leadership style mean to you, and how fixed or flexible can it be?

@Dwyka_Consult: “‘Leadership style’ is how a leader chooses to handle people and make decisions. It’s the leader’s ‘walk’, not his talk.”

@Stagefrightcure: “Leadership has to respond to the inherent goals in a situation and to the people working toward them. Sometimes flexible, sometimes not.”

Question 2: How can the external environment contribute to a person’s leadership style?

@SayItForwardNow: “If a leader is open to learning and growing, the external environment provides inspiration.”

@temekoruns: “Politics, new competition, economic factors, and executive pressure require leaders to be more creative in their approach.”

There was a consensus that emotional intelligence has a huge influence on the quality of leadership.

Question 3: How are leadership style and emotional intelligence related?

@ninadaranke: “Emotional intelligence is of prime importance.”

@amypen64: “It’s how they keep their cool and lead others in the heat of the battle. I’ve seen leaders lose it and others shine.”

Question 4: Have you ever worked with a leader you didn’t trust? What leadership style did they use mostly?

@Dwyka_Consult: “Yes. A charismatic leader, but it was all talk and no walk. She loved her own voice so much that she couldn’t hear anybody else’s.”

@jprofNB: “Unfortunately, yes. The style was one of intimidation and compliance. There was very little trust or collaboration.”

Because a leader’s default style often shows under pressure, we wanted to know how participants deal with it.

Question 5: When under pressure, which leadership style do you revert to?

@Singh_Vandana: “I oscillate between transformational and servant leadership, as per the situation.”

@harrisonia: “When under pressure, my leadership style is ‘enhanced democratic.’ At those times, I want to deal with the problem solvers.”

Question 6: How does your default leadership style influence your team?

@temekoruns: “A default autocratic leader creates a complacency in the workplace to complete tasks for financial incentive and nothing more.”

@KrisGiere: “Servant leadership brings out the best in others once they feel safe and that they belong.”

Question 7: Think of the best leader you’ve ever worked with. What did he/she do so well?

@amypen64: “Let me do my work. Was there when I had questions and made the job fun.”

Many participants shared the sentiment that good leaders don’t micromanage.

Question 8: How do generational differences influence leadership style?

@Midgie_MT: “I believe that the younger-generation leader gives more autonomy to employees and allows creativity to flourish.”

@Yolande_MT: “As leaders: make the best of youth’s creativity and older people’s wisdom and experience.”

Question 9: How do your senior leaders influence your leadership style?

@MicheleDD_MT: “Regardless of the CEO’s style, I stay true to how I lead. I may not get promoted, but the team is engaged and we achieve our goals!”

@jprofNB: “They remind me to zoom-out often and to look at the big picture. It’s great advice!”

Question 10: How can you learn new styles of leadership?

@harrisonia: “Learn new leadership styles through researching them and honestly understanding your personality.”

@Lovemyproxy: “I went to school and am continuing, but there are tons of books out there and things that are as simple and fun as Twitter chats.”

We’ve heard all the stories about team building: from the hopefully never-to-be-repeated ones to the positively life-changing ones. During our next #MTtalk chat – on Friday, June 10, 2016 – our topic will be, “Team Building: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” As always, it will take place at 1pm EST (5pm GMT). We’d love you to join us on Twitter and to share your team-building experience with us.

To join the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Tap on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the chat feed live. To participate, simply include #MTtalk in your tweet and it will show up in the chat feed.

In the meantime, here are some more resources on “Exploring Leadership Styles” for you.

Path-Goal Theory

The Seven Transformations of Leadership

“Laissez Faire” versus Micromanagement

Six Emotional Leadership Styles

Lewin’s Leadership Style Framework

Leadership Style Matrix

What’s Your Leadership Style?

Fiedler’s Contingency Model

Leadership Styles

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