When we interact with someone whose leadership style is similar to our own, communication is relatively easy. However, when we work with people whose leadership style is different from our own, communication and cooperation can be challenging. Dale Carnegie said the most important element of working with different leadership styles is flexibility -- our willingness and ability to see things from another person's point of view. Sounds easy doesn’t it, but it is a bit harder in practice. So how do we determine our own leadership style, and more important, how do we work effectively with others who have a different style?
No single leadership style is superior to the others. Effective leaders must find ways to work with all styles and accentuate the positive traits in others, while minimizing the challenges associated with the different styles.
The four main leadership styles are:
Visionary. Individuals with Visionary leadership style are comfortable with creative thinking, brainstorming, and asking open-ended questions. They are intuitive in their decision-making, preferring to base action plans on people, creative ideas, and opinions rather than on facts and analysis. They enjoy fast-paced environments, emotional discussions, and energetic people. They do not respond well to being bogged down with details, statistics, and minutiae. These are the big picture, let’s map it out on the whiteboard types.
Achiever. Individuals with the Achiever leadership style are results-driven and most comfortable taking a direct, no-nonsense approach to decision-making and interpersonal relationships. They view situations as challenges to be resolved and want to get things done as quickly and directly as possible. They are demanding of themselves and have high expectations of others. They do not respond well to speculation, wasting time, or getting "too personal." Their mantra is "time is money" so they are always in a hurry and very conscious of how they use their time. They are assertive and are comfortable with others who are assertive, so get to the point with them and don’t waste their time.
Facilitator. Individuals with the Facilitator leadership style value relationships, dedication, and loyalty. They are motivated by a cooperative and supportive work environment that values teamwork. They thrive on encouragement and assistance, preferring a person-centered style over a strictly fact-based, "get down to business" approach. They do not respond well to being rushed or threatened. Strong opinions, loud voices, standing too close are not their cup of tea. In fact, that is what they want, to have a cup of tea and get to know you. They see the power of the group and are striving to find ways to get everyone behind the organization’s direction.
Analyzer. Individuals in the Analyzer leadership style value systematic, formal approaches to problem solving and decision making. They are more at ease with facts and figures than opinions and emotions. Relationships are a means to an end for those in this leadership style. They are likely to be reserved and professional as opposed to being warm and expressive. They want testimonials, proof, evidence, expert authority, data and statistics. Going to three decimal places is never a burden for the Analyzer!
We share many of these traits but we tend to gravitate to one more than others. The key to success is to be able to switch our communications style, when we are dealing with people who are not like us. If they are detailed oriented we should bring proof. If they prefer to get to know us first, then we should take our time. If they are fast paced, we should be the same. If they are big picture, we should not get bogged down in the nitty gritty details. When we more closely mirror their preferred style, the communication goes more smoothly, the trust is built faster and the relationship is more successful.