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Developing your leadership style

In order to improve and develop as a leader, whether at work or at home, you need to develop your leadership styles. We all have a default style, the one that we find easiest to use, but the best leaders can use any of Goleman's Six Styles, and move between them easily.

To improve your leadership skills, you need to move beyond your default style and start to use the other five styles more readily. How can you do this?

Six Steps to Developing your Leadership Styles :-

Step 1 Identify your Default Leadership Style :-
What is your preferred leadership style? How do you behave when under stress? Do you find yourself asking others for their opinions, or telling everyone what to do and expecting them to do it? Leading from the front, or worrying about where you are all going and whether there is a clear vision? Stopping to think about this next time you find yourself in a stressful situation will give you great insights into your preferred style.


Step 2 Identify and Develop your Strengths :-

Playing to your strengths is important, so make sure that you know what you're good at.


This may be your default style, but you also have other leadership skills. Others may feel that these are even more valuable. Rebecca Hourston of Aspire, writing for Forbes.com, suggests asking colleagues to tell you the five best things about your leadership style. To develop your strengths still further, you might also make a list each week of three to five things that worked really well that week, then make sure you do them again the next week.


Step 3 Work on your Weaknesses :-
Having identified your strengths, you now need to think about, and develop, the styles that you are less good at. After all, the best leaders can draw on all six of Goleman's Leadership Styles. Some of them won't feel natural, so you need to find a way to use them that feels right to you.


Step 4 Draw on Others :-
You may not have all the necessary leadership styles yourself, but as you work on their development, you can draw on others in your team to step up when necessary. Note which of your team has the skills and styles that you find particularly hard, and encourage them to take the lead when their style is more appropriate than yours.

Do you have trouble creating bonds, and developing team harmony, but have noticed that one of your colleagues can always smooth situations? Use that skill: step back and allow that person to lead whenever the situation calls for affiliative leadership. After all, the best leaders create other leaders, not followers.


Step 5 Do Something Different :-
Richard Olivier suggests that to help you develop your leadership style away from your 'favourite character', you should start new activities. He says that you should identify the character (Good King, Medicine Woman, Great Mother or Warrior) that is most unlike you, and that you find it hardest to 'channel'.

Then think of an activity that seems to you to best represent that character or potential. In general, the Warrior is found through determined and energetic activity, the Good King through order and structure, the Medicine Woman through creativity and the Great Mother through relaxation and nurture. So if you want to develop your inner Warrior, you might take up a new sport, especially a very physical one. If it's the Medicine Woman you find hardest, try painting or pottery.


Step 6 Hold Up A Mirror :-

It's really important to seek feedback when you're trying to develop your leadership styles.


We said before that you should ask what you're already good at, but you can also ask others to give you feedback about how it felt when you behaved in different ways. It may be difficult to hear some of what they say, so don't ask unless you really want to know. And while giving and receiving feedback is a whole other skill, remember not to take it personally. Accept it generously, in the spirit in which it is offered, and decide whether you want to act on it or not. Then move on.

Be Honest About Your Strengths and Weaknesses 
When you are developing new skills, remember that insincerity will stick out like a sore thumb. Like Henry V, you always need to be honest about what you are, as well as about how you want to change. People will usually see if you are putting on an act, which is why being honest about what you're trying, and practising is so important. But if you do practise, rehearse as actors do, in 'safe' situations, then when you really need the new style, it will come naturally and sincerely.



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