Is “Not My Style!” Holding You Back

Thu, 4 Apr 2024 Updated By: Brett Lyons

How many times have you heard someone say  ‘Not my Style’ in a business or social situation?

However, if you are a business leader perhaps you should change ‘Not my style’ to ‘Is that a style I should develop?’.

The reality is that if you are a ‘Leader’, your leadership style impacts positively and negatively on the business environment and the performance of your team. However, when asked about their leadership style, many leaders answer

  • Firm but fair
  • Do as I do’
  • I lead by example’
  • I coach.

Clearly, all these approaches are relevant, but many leaders are not aware of the range of leadership styles they could develop.

The reality is that if you want to be an outstanding leader you need to use a range of leadership styles to get the best performance from the team. Imagine you lead a team of 10 people, ask yourself:

How many of my team will react positively to the same leadership approach?

The answer is probably two or three, leaving the rest of the team at best neutral. The same leadership style doesn’t bring out the best in everyone, something often demonstrated when a new leader is appointed and an ‘average’  team member suddenly team becomes an outstanding performer. The reason, a new leader brings a new approach!

Many things make outstanding leaders, but leadership styles are key. Think about two things:

  • First: Understand Leadership Styles

Most business leaders consistently use two or three leaderships styles, usually these are a consequence of upbringing, education and business experience. So, the first action is to develop an understanding of seven leadership styles and identify those that are your strengths and those you need to develop:

    1. Directive: ‘do as a I say’
    2. Visionary: ‘we work to achieving a shared vision’
    3. Coach: ‘skill development is the key to performance’
    4. People: understanding people is my objective’
    5. Mutual: ‘we share responsibilities and decisions’
    6. Role Model: ‘I show the way’
    7. Mentor: ‘I will help you find your own way’
  • Second: Use Different Styles

Develop the ability to use the styles that will get the best performance from each member of the team. On a recent project, I was working with Jane, a very experienced second-line manager who is a respected performer that leads a team of first line managers.
Jane predominantly used the directive, coach and visionary styles. Jane knew what she expected from each individual and where she wanted to take the team.
As we discussed her approach to leadership, Jane became defensive when we discussed how she could become a better leader by developing new styles. It was a natural reaction, her team was performing so why should she change?
However, Jane was settling for the status quo and not asking the question ‘What could be?’
To develop this conversation, Jane divided her team into three groups:

    1. Enthusiastic Beginners
      People new to a management role and facing a steep learning curve. They enjoyed working with Jane and her natural leadership styles provided the direction, coaching and vision that was a perfect match for their needs. It is not surprising that Jane has a great reputation with people new to role.
    1. High Performers
      Established managers who were leading high performing teams. This group reacted well to Jane’s visionary approach as they liked the shared sense of the future and in turn communicated this to their own teams.
      However, Jane’s directive style caused frustration with this group. The high performers did not like being told what to do, they were happy to listen but they wanted to be consulted and to contribute to the vision, something the mutual or mentor style would deliver. There was also the danger that Jane’s approach could be the catalyst for high performers choosing to leave the business.
    1. Mid-Level Performers
      Established managers who were average performers and could be described as having a very complacent view of things.
      Jane found this group difficult, their performance was average, they resisted change and had an excuse for everything. In reality, this group:
      • Had disconnected, they viewed Jane’s vision as unreachable, and avoided direction rather than acting on it.
      • Understood what Jane wanted, but they were not committed or motivated to deliver.
      • Needed a leadership approach based on the the people, coach and visionary styles of leadership. Jane’s directive approach was acting as the catalyst that produced excuses for performance shortfalls and rationalised why new ideas would not work.  The result was dissatisfaction and poor performance.

The challenge for Jane was to do three things:

First: keep doing what works
It was important that Jane continued to develop the ‘Enthusiastic Beginners’ using her natural leadership styles of directive, coach and vision.

Second: consult with the High Performers
Jane began to develop the mutual and mentor styles of leadership. An approach that encouraged this group to contribute ideas to achieve her vision. This included group and one-to-one sessions which helped the group decide their personal goals and explore ways to reach them.
Follow-up revealed that this team became engaged and most importantly the risk of losing high performers was mitigated.

Third: develop the Mid-Level
Although the visionary style was still appropriate, Jane needed to develop the coach and people styles to lead this group. It was an approach that reconnected this group and helped them deliver improved performance.
Equally as important, follow-up revealed that the commitment and capability of this group significantly improved which delivered improved performance from their respective teams.

Jane became a better leader by developing her ability to use different leadership styles and her management team delivered improved performance. So, the next time you find yourself saying ‘not my style’ think again and ask yourself ‘Is that a style I should develop?’.

Brett Lyons

Want to Get Started?

If you want to start a consultancy project to transform your business then call us to arrange
an initial consultation to discuss your needs, your objectives and how we can help.