EDITOR’S NOTE: We officially changed our name from University of Maryland University College (UMUC) to University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) on July 1, 2019. News stories posted on the Career Connection blog are now using the new UMGC name. However, because the transition to the university’s new name will take several months to complete, you may still see the UMUC name, logo and look on our website and other materials through early 2020.
What kind of leader are you?
If you’re a manager, you’ve probably pondered your own leadership style—and with good reason. The role of a leader is to inspire and guide a team as they work to achieve a goal. To have a great team, you need a strong leader. And when your team shines, your supervisor takes notice.
“Great leaders leverage the strengths of their team to accomplish a shared mission,” explains Cathy Francois, UMUC’s Assistant Director of Career Programming, Career Services and Alumni Relations. “They possess strong interpersonal skills that include a self-awareness of their given style and are able to adjust based on what is best for their team to achieve optimal results.”
Leading in style—your style
There’s no single way to successfully lead. In fact, there are many recognized leadership styles, including authoritarian, delegative and democratic. Sometimes a leader will demonstrate traits taken from multiple styles as they work with their teams.
“The best leaders are flexible with their management style,” asserts Francois.
If you’ve ever had a boss with an authoritarian style, you’d remember it. Authoritarian leaders control all of the decision-making themselves, without asking for input from the team. This can be frustrating to employees who like to participate in the planning process and think creatively at work. However, there is an upside to this style.
“If your team lacks knowledge about a certain procedure, as an authoritarian leader you provide clear expectations for what tasks need to be done and when and how to complete them,” explains Francois. This eliminates uncertainty and doubt, and some employees thrive in that environment.
Alternatively, if your team is made up of highly qualified professionals who know more than you do about the task, then a delegative leadership style would be more appropriate. This more relaxed approach to leadership is also known as laissez-faire leadership. Essentially, with this style you empower your team members to make their own decisions and you trust them to figure out how to get the job done.
Confident, skilled employees may thrive in this hands-off environment, while inexperienced or unmotivated individuals may flounder due to the lack of structure. When choosing this style, it’s critical to have a team that has a proven track record of working well independently.
Often, leaders find that a democratic style is most effective. Also known as participative leadership, this kind of leader allows team members to make decisions, as long as they have a clear understanding of the organization’s goals and the part they play in achieving them.
Which style are you?
In order to maximize your effectiveness as a leader, it’s a great idea to learn which leadership style you tend to use. Having this self-awareness can help you leverage your strengths—and hone new skills, if needed—to get the most from your team members.
Francois suggests taking a leadership style assessment to learn more about you manage, such as one of the following:
Know your style, boost your career
Once you know your style, take some time to read about it so you can gain a better understanding of how you work with your team. Doing so can help you improve the way you communicate with your employees, lead through challenges and foster a positive work environment.
“Great leaders are often measured by the success of their teams,” notes Francois.
When you lead your team to success, you’re not only helping your organization. You’re also mastering the skills that every company wants—and needs—on its payroll. In the end, the biggest payoff is to your career.