What makes someone an effective leader? It seems like a straightforward question, but there are numerous ways to think about the subject.
We observe leaders from a young age. Leaders in the playground, such as the kid that organizes everyone else for a game of soccer. There are leaders in your family too, like that special aunty who plans all the Eid get-togethers.
As we grow, some of us fall into being a leader naturally, and some of us have to work at it. But anyone can become a great leader with the right training and focus. The question is, what type of leader do you want to be?
It is also important to think about how leadership requirements will change in the future. Omar Najjar, Chief Programs Officer at Misk Foundation, gave his insightful thoughts on this topic recently in Arabian Business:
“... Future leadership will not just be defined by ‘what’ leaders do, ‘why’ they do it, or ‘who’ they do it for. More importantly, it will be defined by ‘how’ leaders think, shifting between mindsets and perspectives … Having a flexible command of their psyche, so they can let go of limiting beliefs. Knowing how and when to think like a scientist, an artist, an entrepreneur or a consultant, they can start to lean into ambiguity with the confidence to adapt their behavior to any given context or situation,” he said.
It is helpful to understand the range of leadership types before developing your own personal, successful approach. You might feel you resonate better with qualities in one particular style and try to adopt them instead of another. This means you can either become the type of leader you want to be, or you might find a unique blend!
When people think of a great leader and what characteristics they should have, often the word ‘strong’ comes up. Autocratic leaders embody strength and are known for being highly decisive and forceful.
Their mantra is "do as I say," and there is no doubt they get things done! Strength in leadership is necessary. The only downside, however, is that sometimes this style can eliminate the reception of useful input from other team members.
If you are the type of person who always gets tasks completed on deadline and is mindful to comply with rules at all times, you may naturally adopt a ‘bureaucratic’ leadership style.
This type of leader gives their team a sense of stability since you are unlikely to wander from the set procedure or change any policies suddenly. A slight downside to this leadership approach is that it can be too rigid and does not allow room for employees’ creativity or ideas.
Empowering, coaching leaders
Coaching leaders are all about empowering employees and trying to unlock their potential. They apply encouragement as a leadership tool – rather than strict authority – using phrases such as: “Have you considered trying this?” A coaching leader gives people a little direction to help them tap into their ability to achieve, and then lets people find their capabilities.
This type of leader tends to be very popular with their team. The only downside is that sometimes they can lack strictness when it’s required.
Paternalistic leaders encourage workers to discuss and comment, responding to all their questions. Nevertheless, the decision-making remains with the person at the top. This style of leadership yields high employee loyalty due to people feeling like they’re being heard and their needs are being met.
A possible downside is employees becoming too dependent on the ‘paternal’ leader, causing a need for a lot of supervision.
How to stay relevant
To stay relevant, you need to develop your leadership skills over time and be adaptable to different work situations. The best way to keep learning and growing is to mix with other like-minded people. Misk offers a fantastic opportunity for leaders to network through programs like the Saudi National Experts Program and the 2030 Executive Leaders Program.
Having awareness will give you an edge!
Knowing some of the standard leadership types will raise your awareness of your natural leadership style as you go about your day-to-day life and allow you to alter your behavior where necessary.
Working environments are becoming more multicultural. Therefore, as a leader, you need to be able to adapt your leadership style to support colleagues from different backgrounds. This will give you a real edge in the workplace of the future!
Tip: Try taking a DiSC assessment as a starting point!
If you’re serious about enhancing your leadership skills, it might be worth taking a DiSC test. This non-judgmental personality and behavioral assessment is used by more than one million people every year to improve teamwork, communication and productivity. It is a useful starting point for figuring out your natural style!
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