Which Leadership Style Aligns With Your Core Values?

Which Leadership Style Aligns With Your Core Values?

A leader's leadership style is a crucial aspect of business as it impacts a company’s systems, relationships, culture, employee well-being, and so much more. In essence, leadership style is a compilation of a leader’s methods, personality, behaviors, tendencies, and characteristics when leading and guiding a team. Leadership styles can vary depending on the organization, team, industry, leader, etc.

Determining and executing our leadership style can make or break our success as a leader, so it’s imperative that we find our style based on our natural values, and lead with them every day for the sake of our team, our reputation, and our impact, which should always be positive.

8 Common Leadership Styles

It is important to learn the common leadership styles so that we can pinpoint which ones we (and our organization) align with and which ones we should avoid due to poor fit.

  1. Coach - coaching style is all about guiding your team members to their goals and working long-term to develop their skills and performance. This style requires a thorough understanding of the organization’s goals as well as employees’. In this role, leaders must be encouraging and create a space where goals feel achievable and relationships at work feel supportive and empathetic.
  2. Visionary/authoritative - leading in a visionary or authoritative role requires a strong sense of motivation and consistent encouragement. Learning how to provide quality feedback is imperative so that leaders can guide their employees to success. This leadership style can be successful when making big changes at work, yet it requires a clear vision and confidence to execute. Leaders must be able to provide empathy to their team members and inspire them to reach their goals, but not hold their hands every step of the way and instead provide autonomy.
  3. Affiliate - an affiliative leadership style is all about connection and relationships. A good affiliative leader knows how to connect workers, how to include everyone, and how to manage conflict through proven and practiced methods. This leadership style requires a leader to value emotional needs and meet them, especially during hardship.
  4. Commanding - a commanding leadership style must be executed well to not harm the team. Those who take on a commanding style must be strict and have control over the team, using punishment as a motivator. This style is best used in the short term to manage crises or inspire fast change. A commanding leader must understand how to function under high pressure and quickly find solutions.
  5. Democratic/participative - this leadership style is all about communication and inclusion. To be a democratic leader, one must learn and use good communication and listening skills to delegate responsibility and foster accountability. This style often builds a strong sense of trust in a team and breeds high employee satisfaction as all team members are included in decision-making when possible.
  6. Transformational - transformational leadership is centered around energy and inspiration. A leader needs to know how to keep their team energized and excited so that they reach higher achievements and create change. A transformational leader knows how to channel their passion to motivate employees to think about their future and make changes to achieve more than they think they are capable of.
  7. Servant - a popular topic among professionals, a servant leader always puts others first and empowers those around them to reach their full potential. A leader who invests time in building quality relationships and making ethical decisions will succeed in increasing workplace productivity, creativity, and loyalty.
  8. Transactional/managerial - managerial or transactional leadership is based on reward and punishment systems. A transactional leader encourages the practice of strict routines and establishes well-defined tasks to accomplish clear goals. Creating a reward-based environment can help keep the structure intact and ensure teams consistently follow procedures.

How to Identify Your Core Values and Find Your Leadership Style

Choosing a leadership style can be difficult if we do not understand our core values. Core values are principles that guide us through our daily lives - they are at the root of our behaviors, motivations, relationships, beliefs, and more.

Values-driven leadership  means leading with purpose and integrity, aligning actions with values, and working as our most authentic and trustworthy selves. When we indulge in our values at work, we become more passionate, committed, and purpose-driven, which impacts our team in powerful ways.

For us to be value-driven leaders, we need first to define our core values before we can communicate them to our team, incorporate them in our procedures, and lead our employees by example.

There are multiple ways to identify our core values. Since these values already govern our day-to-day lives, we should instinctively be able to choose which values resonate with us most. The easiest way to do this is simply by reading a list and narrowing down the ones that resonate most to 6 or 8 personal values. These are our core values.

Some common values leaders resonate with most and choose to help guide them to manage their teams effectively are influence, vision, passion, empathy, resilience, and humility.

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, has compiled a phenomenal list of common core values in leadership. Check them out and choose your values here.

If using a pre-made list doesn’t jive with you, there are other ways to identify our core values. We can consider people in our lives who we admire and pinpoint what qualities they possess that make them so admirable. Compile a list and choose which ones you also live by. You can also start with your team and determine what is most important to you, your team, and their success. The values that you find will match your intentions and also give you a leg up in incorporating the values at work, as you already know that your team values (or needs) them too.

For example, the seven core values I’ve chosen for my personal brand are dependable, committed, broad-minded, connection, excellence, optimism, and reflective. For me, these values promise my clients a standard of care. They know what to expect from my work, how I work with others, and what influence I have on projects. I’m dependable as I always achieve results promptly, I’m committed and dedicated to getting the job done, I’m broad-minded in how to create results from big ideas, I nurture connections to allow for honest communication and collaboration. I pledge to execute excellence when perfection isn’t practical, I vow to stay optimistic and keep a positive frame of mind among challenges, and I reflect at every stage to ensure end products are tailored and true to my clients.

Core values can be used in many ways to guide your work, team, personal endeavors, relationships, and more. We only need to make sure we have a firm grasp of our values and consistently practice executing them.

Finding Your Leadership Style

After identifying our core values, we can then choose a leadership style that works with our values. It is important to choose values before a leadership style as choosing a style first could stray us from our values or force us to lead in a way that is not authentic.

After defining our core values, we can then use them to narrow down leadership styles. Begin by eliminating styles that do not mesh with your values or your team, then choose a style that incorporates as many of your core values as possible. Below is a quick guide matching leadership style to core values that can help in choosing one style.

Hone and Practice Your Leadership Style Through Team Training Videos

Looking for ways for you and your team to exercise your leadership style? Consider the following comprehensive meeting modules to hone your team’s skills while leading an impactful and efficient meeting.

Coaching leadership style: Strengthen Skills: Play Ball from the Team Building Series

Visionary (Authoritative) leadership style: Enhanced Focus: Power of Ten from the Workplace Productivity Series

Affiliate leadership style: Build Relationships: Breaking Bread from the Employee Empowerment Series

Commanding leadership style: Optimize Performance: Crew Skills from the Team Building Series

Democratic (Participative) leadership style: Shifting Perspectives: The Big Picture from the Leadership Development Series 

Transformational leadership style: Cultivate Presence: Owning The Stage from the Leadership Development Series

Servant leadership style: Power of Positive Influence from the Employee Empowerment Series

Transactional (Managerial) leadership style: Get Organized: Mise en Place from the Employee Empowerment Series or Maximize the Minutes from the Workplace Productivity Series


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