When you reach the point in your career when you are guiding others toward their upward mobility and trajectory, you feel the pressure. Not only do you have to answer to your bosses (or investors) but you are also responsible for the professional health of those reporting up to you. Everyone leads differently, and everyone prefers to be mentored at various levels.
Finding the happy medium between what you’re comfortable with and what motivates your team is tricky but the first step is identifying your leadership style. If you’re not sure what your characteristics say about you as a boss, check out our guide from experts and psychologists:
The Transformational Leader
If you moonlight as an ‘unofficial’ motivational speaker as you lead morning meetings, you may fall under the ‘transformational’ category of leadership. Amy Cooper Hakim, Ph.D., an industrial-organizational psychology practitioner, and workplace expert says this type of manager helps their teams do more than they ever thought possible. “Do you like to inspire others? Do you take pride in noting growth in your followers? If you focus more on the growth of your employees than on task completion, per se, you may be a transformational leader,” she explains. “If you like to inspire your followers with meaningful quotes and messages, then you may have a transformational style.”
This type of leader is also referred to as ‘charismatic’ since they have the ability to shift employee’s attitudes and beliefs in a meaningful way. Psychologist Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. says they are often seen as an uplifting personality that’s enjoyable to be around and may even create friendships in the office.
The Democratic Leader
As the name suggests, you may be a democratic leader if you always ensure a consensus before moving forward. This type of mentality often yields an ever-connected team that functions with a positive mindset. Psychotherapist and author Jenny Maenpaa, LCSW, EDM says this leader wants to value everyone’s individual opinion and give a voice to those who aren’t always heard. As with anything, there are pros and cons to this approach. “The benefit to working under this type of leadership is that they want everyone at every level to feel a sense of ownership and investment in the company,” she explains. “The drawback to working under this type of leadership is that simple decisions can take longer than necessary to confirm and execute while waiting for everyone’s input.”
The Inclusive Leader
When your boss is an inclusive leader—you’ll definitely be engaged during meetings. As executive career coach and author Ivy Slater explains, this type of boss is known for their ability to communicate, often asking open-ending questions and leaning in when someone is talking. They don’t want all-eyes-on-them, but rather, want the team to be given gold stars for their work. “They recognize that success is often the result of a brainstorm of ideas and are happy to share credit with their team, rarely highlighting themselves. They believe in the power of collaboration, bringing various departments together on key decisions,” she explains. “They explore non-traditional options and operate from a place of curiosity and creativity.”
The All-In Leader
Or, a less friendly way to describe this approach is: micromanaging. Maenpaa says this leader not only wants to be involved in everything but insists upon it. They are the ones who tend to feel like the success of the company is directly related to every decision they make, so they rarely give away any control. Though many people struggle under this type of leadership, Maenpaa says bosses who operate in this fashion are passionate and they truly care about everything, usually making them adopt a ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ like manner. “The drawback to working under this type of leadership is that decisions can often languish in limbo while the leader tends to other things, since the employees can’t move forward without the leader’s approval. If you prefer to be copied on every email or present in every meeting, you may be this type of leader,” she shares.
The Authoritative Leader
You’re not in the office to make friends—you’re there to do work. Does that sound like you? If so, Hakim says you might be an authoritative leader who not only gets a job done—but does it with control and precision. “Do you prefer to tell people what to do instead of leaving them to make their own decisions? If you find yourself commanding your employees to complete tasks in a certain way, then you may be an authoritative leader,” she explains. “Certain industries and positions require authoritative leadership. If you like feeling in control and take pride when you can orchestrate a successful plan, then you may be an authoritative leader.”
The Hands-Off Leader
Pretty much the opposite of the all-in leader, this personality prefers to let employees do their thing. They respect and honor that they hired the right people who know how to use their skills effectively. “The benefit to working under this type of leadership is that they trust in their hires and believe that everyone brings necessary skill sets to the company,” Maenpaa explains. “The drawback to working under this type of leadership is that employees may feel directionless or abandoned when they would actually appreciate the leader’s input. If when asked questions that aren’t high-level, you direct the questioner to someone else for insight, you may be this type of leader.”
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