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What kind of a boss are you? (and why it matters)

Published Date: 2018-03-01 | Source: Simply Financial Services | Author: Simply

What kind of a boss are you? (and why it matters)

Here's the short version of this article: imagine you walk into a room and find nothing but a bowl of jelly beans. Being a lover of jelly beans (who isn't), you take one. What colour did you choose? Click here to find out what that says about your personality and leadership style.


Read on for a more scientific way of determining what kind of boss you are. Feel free to munch on some jelly beans as you digest this article, but pay attention, because understanding your leadership tendencies can have a huge impact on your organisation and the people who work there.

Like jelly beans, we have our own natural personality flavour. It's the unique profile that shows up in tests like Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram, and it directly influences the way that we lead others. However, in his groundbreaking Harvard Business Review paper, Leadership That Gets Results, science journalist and emotional intelligence pioneer, Daniel Goleman, concludes that most managers and business leaders are mistaken in the belief that personality dictates leadership style. In fact, he says, leadership style is a strategic choice, that requires leaders to select the most effective style to match any particular situation. All bosses have a personal bias towards one style or another, but the most successful leaders don't just know one way of leading, they know several, and consciously and intelligently employ the most appropriate style at any given time. Bosses often miss how important this is. The organisational climate of a business can account for a third of financial performance, and that climate is directly determined by leadership.

The 6 basic leadership styles

The coercive style
Very effective in crises or a turnaround situation, the coercive style is autocratic and demonstrative - "Do what I say." It can also be valuable when dealing with problem employees. However, in general business operations this style closes down innovation and organisational flexibility, and often has a negative effect on morale.

The authoritative style
The authoritative leader has high standards and sets clear objectives, but offers employees freedom and autonomy in how they achieve those results. This style says "Come with me" and works well when a business is adrift, but less well when the leader is working with experts more experienced that him/her.

The affiliative style
A great morale-builder, the affiliative leader believes "People come first." However, the harmony this style often creates is threatened by a lack of constructive guidance, and poor performance often goes uncorrected as the leader focuses on praise.

The democratic style
The democratic leader invites workers into the decision-making process, thereby increasing accountability and fostering creativity. But, this style can also leave employees feeling leaderless and undirected. Companies led in this way are commonly afflicted with endless and unproductive meetings.

The pacesetting style
The style commonly espoused by very driven, high-performing leaders who set extremely high standards. Such bosses work well with employees who are self-motivated and especially competent, but they can alienate the rest of the workforce who feel intimidated by their unceasing requirements for excellence, or frustrated by their tendency to take over a task if they feel it is not progressing fast enough/well enough.

The coaching style
Excellent in situations where employees are seeking personal development and want to change poor habits, the coaching style focuses more on "growing" the employee than specific work-related tasks. Though this can yield powerful results in the longterm, it is very ineffective with individuals who do not wish to change.

So, what style of leadership do you tend towards, and which styles could you develop to suit your business? Building these muscles is not easy, but isn't that why you're the boss?


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