Leadership style matters as much as training

I remember a colleague who was promoted to a director position she’d long sought. She was confident about her skills and expertise. Yet she didn’t yet know her leadership style and she felt a nervous energy about being effective as a team leader.

This nervousness was good news for a couple reasons. It is good to have a desire to perform well. Even better is a manager who understands how important her leadership effectiveness is to everyone’s success.  A noticeable and conscious energy around knowing it was up to her to lead well was a sign that she had good instincts regarding the effect her actions might have on others.

Lack of a Training Program Caused Worry

She was a little worried about the “how” of her leadership impact.  There was no management training program in place for her. She was new to everyone on the team and had no established relationships there. And she felt that she herself had not yet worked for someone who had modeled strong leadership. She had learned a few examples along the way about what NOT to do as a manager. Just as important, she had her own personal frame of reference about what she had wanted most in her supervisors.

She had a good basis from which to start. First, she knew she wanted to lead with empathy and transparency. Second, she knew she wanted to share goals and results. Her goal as a leader was to create a collaborative and dynamic team relationship. Without realizing it, she was forming her leadership style.

Her Leadership Instincts Centered on Open Communication

Her instincts were to describe the team relationship she envisioned and to define the type of working relationship she wanted to build. She asked them advice on how best to really have that and how to best define goals that would be meaningful for each of them. And she put in place an immediate communication structure, including regular team and individual meetings.

There was a lot she didn’t know about the company, the team’s projects and technical information. Her priority of meeting with her team regularly helped solve this deficit. Several of her team members readily volunteered information and knowledge regularly. These exchanges began naturally occurring in meetings and general conversations.

She kept her promise to value their time, and never moved team meetings or individual meetings without unavoidable reason. Her team felt respected and developed an easy trust that she was interested and engaged. They learned from her transparency and the open communication that she modeled. They responded in kind and she built her leadership style with continual self awareness and personal growth.

Learning on the Job Created Confidence in her Style

She had learned by applying herself and relating to her team. She had wanted more training in the beginning. Now she knew that learning by doing was more valuable. She was becoming more confident in her own leadership style.

One key to her success was learning that her best leadership style was one that played on her natural strengths. That’s a lesson that can be valuable for any leader. Coaching is an effective resource for leaders to find their own best style and learn how to grow their skills naturally.

Your best leadership style will come from who you are, as well. Your instincts will give you the best starting point, and your potential is your most powerful leadership tool. A coach can help you recognize, focus and implement that potential for the results you want.

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