In studying the various leadership styles, I found that many, if not all of the styles we covered have some degree of relevance to most people’s leadership practices. A few however, seem to stand out from the rest. I will review these various styles individually.
The leadership styles and approaches that will be focused upon are: the Trait Approach (Northouse 15), Skills Approach (Northouse 39), Style Approach (Northouse 69) and the Situational Approach (Northouse 89). I will discuss the five questions every leader should ask of themselves when engaging a team to achieve a goal.Lastly, I will look at emotional intelligence leadership skills, also referred to as EQ, (Northouse 23) .
Trait Approach The Trait Approach to leadership implies that in order to be an effective leader, there are certain types of characteristics that you would have to be born with. These trait characteristics have been identified by several researchers. In my opinion, the list is so vast, one would be hard pressed to not find at least a few that they could associate with themselves.The ability to stand out among the masses appears to be a qualifier as well.
There seem to be some consistent traits present in the leadership evaluations I conducted. They are: intelligence, self-confidence, determination, integrity and sociability (Northouse 19). While there is much controversy in regard to whether or not one must innately possess these traits, there seems to be an overall agreement that the presence of them make the difference when being considered to be or not to be an effective leader. Skills ApproachThe Skills Approach to leadership shares the concept of being based upon characteristics however, it concludes that although ulitmately there are specific characteristics necessary to be a successful leader, there is opportunity to learn and develop these skills. The skills approach concept summizes that there needs to be the presence of three basic administrative skills-technical, human and conceptual. Technical skill relate specifically to knowledge and aptitude to to apply necessary techniques as well as operate specific equipment and software programs.
Human skill is the ability to work cohesively with people.Having this skill and being effective at incorporating it into your leadership style is a critical factor to the success of any goal oriented group effort. If you cannot motivate people to complete the tasks at hand, failure would be imminent. The third administrative skill is the ability to be conceptual in your thinking. You must be able to see the big picture in order to be strategic.
If one is unable to envision and embrace the overall concept, the company/organization will not succeed in meeting goals. Style Approach The Style Approach focuses primarily on behavior.Behavior in this regard is broken down into two areas. Task oriented and relationship oriented. An efficient leader finds a balance between the two. Having the ability to toggle between these two areas is only half the battle. A leader must also know when it is appropriate to apply one as opposed to the other.
There may be circumstances while working toward one goal both practices need to be applied. A good leader should be able to determine when and how that should happen. This style is one that I can clearly relate to. I work in an industry in which a big part of our success lies in our ability to manage relationships.
In order to do that, you must be able to determine the type of person you are partnering with and based upon that determination, you must adapt your approach and communication technique. Style questionnaire, Situational Approach The Situational Approach to leadership is one that I am quite familiar with however, it is one that I don’t necessarily think I embrace to the degree that I should. I find myself thinking that if a person has been hired to perform certain duties, there should be a core competency level present that enables them to complete the tasks they are assigned.I have always been opposed to micro-managing and the Situational Style of leadership felt similar to that practice. This leadership style calls for me to take who I am leading and what their abilities are and what degree of dircection I determine they would require to complete the tasks at hand without becoming frustrated by either lack of direction or lack of empowerment. If I had to equate it, I would say that it is similar to driving a stick shift. I need to know when to put my foot on the gas and when to push the clutch to get into gear.
Five Leadership QuestionsAs a leader, there are 5 questions one must ask oneself when engaging a team to achieve a goal. First, determine and take into consideration what is already working. There is an old saying if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. If there are tried and true practices and tactics that have led to achieving goals, and the goal itself has not changed, there is no need to re-create the wheel. Secondly, clarity is necessary in regard what variables drove the success. If you cannot pinpoint what varibles moved the dial, you can’t give effective direction to a team in terms of the best path to take.Third, knowing the objective is necessary to answer the first two questions accurately. If the objective is fuzzy, there is no way to determine the best way to reach point of arrival.
Fourth is defining the benfits of reaching goal for stakeholders. These include self-gratification, organizational profitability, bonuses, budget approval and respect of colleagues to name a few. The fiifh question that is necessary tto ask is what more can be done, what can be done better and what should be done differently to acheieve the highest level of success.
Once this question is posed, empower and encourage the team to share their ideas. Brainstorming sessions are an invaluable forum for developing new concepts and approaches. It is the perfect setting for determining new approaches by providing a wide array of perspectives. Emotional Intelligence Theory Emotional Intelligence –EQ or Emotional Quotient is a behavioral model that manifests 5 key competencies.They consist of being in touch with and aware of your emotions, self-regulation by manging those emotions appropriately, being able to self-motivate, having empathy by being sensitive to the emotions of others and effectively managing relationships. In addition to having a basic awareness of these competencies, it is necessary for to know how to incoporate them into a leadership style. Professional integrity is very important and a good leader will always be mindful of controlling their emotions.
An effective leader learns to step back for a moment and realize that they cannot change other peoples behaviors but they can change the way they react to them. I still hold fast to my professional opinion regarding what the I believe the best practices should be, however, learning and understanding how what drives people to do what they do, say what they say and lead like they lead is influenced by how they are “hard-wired”, has helped me to appreciate the perspective of others as well. Learning about the diversity of leadership styles has helped me appreciate the perspective of others even though they differ from mine.