An effective leadership style can inspire employees. A leader faces a constant challenge to drive different minds collectively and towards a direction. Successful leaders can bring productivity, while improving the bottom line of a business.
Leadership styles are often related to a personality type or are influenced from previous mentors. Organisations tend to label their leadership styles, which is a general practice, but every leader needs a different orientation to manage their teams.
This is a style of leadership that changes according to the needs of the organisation and the given situation. This style works on the principle that there is not a defined rule of leadership. Leaders must understand when to change their management style and which strategy needs to be implemented. A right kind of leader for this style would be one who has the right attitude and the flexibility to change styles as per the situation.
However, this style has the tendency to divert attention from long-term strategies and policies. This style of leadership also depends on the competence and maturity of the team on which it will be applied.
Leading from behind
This leadership style was practiced by one of the most influential world figures, Nelson Mandela. The term was introduced in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, where he compared leaders to shepherds. A leader’s role is to be behind the flock, overviewing them but also allowing the smarter ones to go ahead and take the lead, while others follow, but the leaders always maintain control.
Here is the psychology: As people are now looking for more meaning and purpose from their work, they increasingly expect to be valued for their efforts made for the organisation. This theory provides a sense of authority and belonging to the organisations' purpose, with a high sense of positivity. This doesn’t indicate that the leader’s responsibilities are aborted. At the end, it is the leader’s job to make sure that the team stays together with designated goals.
Leading from the middle
Leadership required on-ground for an organisation doesn’t come from top-level executives, as the board itself is divided or has different goals to achieve. For a specific initiative, it could be that the agenda is not as important to the board as it is for the team under them. In these situations, the organisation is led from the middle. Here, the senior and middle managers in charge provide the drive to keep moving towards the set target. This leadership provides the opportunity to define strategies and objectives of those above, around and below you; at the same time, you can communicate on-the-ground insights to those at the top.
This is a common style of leadership. The leaders here set extremely high-performance standards and become obsessive about getting things done better and faster from everyone around them. Often, the pacesetter misses out on rewarding their team with feedback or appreciation and shifts directly to the grey area. Instead of increasing the results, it dims the team spirit and destroys the work environment. It increases aggression, as the teams don’t get their space to work and feel overwhelmed by the expectations of the pacesetter. It also makes employees feel that their senior/pacesetter does not trust them to work in their own way. To make matters worse, instructions from such a leader are always hurried and in haste, which makes it unclear for team members to follow. There is also a negative impact where the team starts perceiving the leader as lacking patience with his decisions.
There are many downfalls to it but one of the pros of this leadership style is that it allows achieving the business goal in a short term. After all, there will be a set of highly energetic people who will be able to drive and complete the process with their commendable performance and quality of work. The sense of motivation that the leader has should be induced in the followers as well. But it is not advisable for long-term application and can be used only when it is really required for the good of the business.
The transformational leadership is based on a leader’s ability to bring change through their articulated vision and challenging goals. They are idealised as a moral exemplar working for the benefit of their organisation with the ability to change the organisational culture. The magnitude of the leaders’ influence can be measured through their followers.
The followers are loyal, trust, admire and respect their leader and due to these they have the urge and willingness to work harder. It has the power to motivate, drive morale and performance of the followers through various mechanisms. These include connecting the follower's sense of identity and self to the mission and the collective identity of the organisation; being a role model for followers that inspires them; challenging followers to take greater ownership for their work, and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of followers, so the leader can align followers with tasks that optimise their performance. In this style of leadership, the leaders encourage followers to come with unique ideas or solutions to challenge the status quo and to alter the environment to support being successful.
All the above-mentioned leadership styles can be adapted by a leader depending on the industry type or the crisis the company is facing, like to keep a quivering team from falling apart, which would demand for a quick shift in approach. With the right leadership skills, one can create an encouraging and productive work environment, and earn the love and respect of team members.
The author is a Managing Director at O.C. Tanner.
The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.
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