Every leader has an individual management style that is a blend of their innate personality traits, communication style strengths, work history, and life experience. The question is, do you know yours? And, is it always effective?
Effective leaders know their strengths, and they build a team around them that can compensate for their limitations. They know how to lead from their strengths, without turning a blind eye to their weaknesses.
Here’s six things you can do to ensure that your personal management style will help your company achieve its objectives:
- Know your specific management style: Step one is to find out how you are hardwired to lead. What are your strengths? What management style do you default to? An assessment can help you see this objectively in black and white. For instance, you can take the Forte Communication Style Survey to learn both your communication style and your management style.
- Know how you’re being perceived: The second step is to discover how you are coming across to those you work with. The adapting portion of the Forte Communication Style Survey also shows you this in black and white. Or you can ask some trusted peers or direct reports for honest feedback. For an even more thorough evaluation, use a 360 leadership assessment to see the full picture.
- Understand that your biggest strength can hold you back: It’s common for professionals to figure out what they’re good at and then run with it. In fact, when problems arise, we often pour on more of the same, only stronger. A planning style manager may bog the team down in plans and details, while an influencing manager may talk past the point of helpfulness and slow the team down. Sometimes, less is more – even of strengths. Remember that those around you have different defaults and needs. Your goal is to adapt. So first know your strengths, and then recognize when to throttle them back. Forte Adapting updates can help.
- Don’t hire in your own likeness: We tend to gravitate towards people who are similar to us. In fact, studies show that managers often rate more highly employees they perceive as “like” them. This birds-of-a-feather phenomena may help you build enjoyable friendships, but always hiring employees with traits like yours will build a lopsided work team. Hire, and then value, a diversity of opinions and strengths, matching each person’s strengths to the role they fill.
- Know those you hire: Each person on your team has a way that they like to lead and be led. There are specific ways you can communicate with each of them to best reach them and motivate them. Sound like a lot of work? It doesn’t have to be. Effective leadership is not just about knowing and using your style, but also about adapting your style as needed to best lead the team. Give your team members the Forte Communication Style Profile to learn how to communicate and motivate the individuals around you.
- Get a wingman that is opposite of you: One smart thing you can do for your company and your growth as a leader is to build a relationship with a peer who complements rather than mirrors your management style. They can help you see your strengths and your blind spots. They can suggest alternative approaches you might not think of. And they can tell you how you really come across to the world.
To lead at optimum levels you need – chances are – information that you don’t currently have … like how you tend to lead, how each of your employees prefer to be led, and how you are currently coming across to them. The Forte Institute tool suite can easily put that information in your hands.
If you are in senior management, you’ve already seen time and again that people skills are key to effective leadership. Yet strategy and market positioning tend to occupy the thoughts of most C-level leaders. If you will take the extra step of understanding your own leadership style, then use it and also compensate for it, you will not only help your company excel, but your career as well.
For more information on how leadership assessments can help you hone your leadership style, see this article at HR.answers.com or give us a call at the Forte Institute: 910-452-5152.
The Forté Institute’s Rachel Olsen is on faculty at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in the Communication Studies department. She is a communication specialist, and a trained and certified coach.