When it comes to leading – either leading yourself or a team – it is clear that some people have more influence or success than others. This can cause us to question whether there is one style of leadership which is more successful than others.

In researching the various leadership styles that are available for a leader to adopt, two things become clear; 1) there are a multitude of leadership styles which have been identified through decades of study into this field, and 2) no single ‘style’ of leadership has been identified as the ideal.

If success really does leave tracks, as the well-worn quote states, surely there should be some indicators or markers which can help identify the competencies and behaviours which can lead to more effective leadership.

Understanding Preferences

Everybody has a natural preference to behave in a certain manner. That is, they prefer to do things one way over an alternative strategy. Understanding these behavioural preferences, and how they may assist or hinder your ability to lead, is an essential step in improving our self-awareness.

One such assessment tool is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which uses basic preferences of each of the four dichotomies identified by Psychologist Carl Jung. The outcome of the assessment, is one of 16 distinctive personality types. (Try the online assessment from 16 Personalities).

The Preference of Followers

If we consider reverse-engineering the traits of effective leaders, we should be asking the followers as to what makes their leaders so effective and why do they follow so enthusiastically?

One report from Harvard Business School, identified 6 key characteristics. Included in these characteristics are; transparency, ability to influence and their ability to act decisively.

In addition to these, numerous studies have identified the existence of empathy, integrity, passion for the cause, willingness to listen and their ability to build community. (Read Larry Spears article explaining this in more detail).

The Servant Leader

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.” -Robert K. Greenleaf

If any model of leadership has received more acceptance than others recently, it is Greenleaf’s model of Servant Leadership.

The Servant Leader makes sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. While difficult to assess, the real test of Servant Leadership is whether those who are served actually grow as individuals.

In Conclusion

Our preferences and our willingness to assist others, combined with our competencies, will directly influence our ability to lead others – and ourselves. Our effectiveness as leaders, is also largely dependent upon what we do for others and how we can make their lives more meaningful.

“If Your Actions Inspire Others To Dream More, Learn More, Do More and Become More, You Are a Leader” (John Quincy Adams)


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