As employees, we’re pretty good at describing a boss’s leadership style. We use descriptive terms like:
- My way or the highway
- People person
And a lot more colorful expressions I’m certain you can add.
Managers do indeed have specific styles. You might wonder whether those approaches to leadership are instinctive or acquired — are they born or made?
I believe it’s a combination of both. We bring certain internal characteristics to our work as managers and we are influenced by external forces. Here’s a look at both:
- Our personality preferences. As I’ve written before, I know from my work with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® that some of us are more naturally inclined to be hard liners, others to be soft touches.
- Our emotional intelligence. Our self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management all play into our approach to management.
- Our values. There are certain things each of us consider core values and principles — from “playing to win” to “serving the greater good.”
- Our role models. We are influenced by the best and worst leaders we’ve experienced. I often hear managers talk about wanting to emulate a leader (relative, clergy, teacher, coach, boss) who had a great positive influence on them — or to never, ever behave like the worst of the bunch.
- Our environment. Managers can be influenced by the culture of an organization, for example, to be more collaborative or more controlling than they’d like.
- The situation at hand. Our approach to management can be influenced by the specifics of a situation we face. Change management and crisis management, for example, are two entirely different challenges.
So, leadership styles are born AND made — and great bosses understand how to take the best of their internal characteristics and adapt to the external needs they ascertain in the workplace.
How do you know your style — and whether it’s the best for a situation? Take a look at this video for some insights: