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What's your leadership style?

What’s Your Leadership Style?

Have you ever wondered how your employees or your team look at you as a leader?

Your leadership style can make a huge difference in how successful you are at motivating people to complete certain types of projects or learning new skills at work. A better understanding of how you lead others can only have a positive influence on your career.

Although there are countless types and subtypes of leadership styles, these six descriptions are used and referred to often:

Authoritative/Visionary. Authoritative or visionary leaders are focused on the problem at hand, but not too worried about the method of solving it. They’re looking at end goals and allow their team to innovate and work out their own processes for reaching them. This type of leader is perfect for inspiring enthusiasm among a team, but doesn’t do as well when the team they’re trying to motivate is made up of experts that have a great deal more experience with the subject matter than they do.

Affiliate. Leaders who demonstrate an affiliate style try to create emotional bonds and promote a real team atmosphere. When projects have failed or the team is on shaky ground, an affiliate leader can bring them back into a cohesive whole. However, since this leadership method emphasizes team performance over individual accomplishments, some workers may perceive affiliate leaders as being tolerant of mediocrity.

Democratic. A team that thinks together stays together, or so the democratic leader would have them believe. They lead through consensus, deferring to the team for help in determining the direction of a project. Democratic leadership can be invaluable when you have the time to make slow, group decisions, but if you’re handling an emergency or your team doesn’t have much experience with the subject matter at hand it’s not the best choice.

Coaching. When you have a lot of experience in your area, coaching can be a great way to connect to your team members on an individual basis. Instead of focusing on the group, a coaching leader focuses on developing individual team members and helping them connect their professional goals to the goals of the team. Employees who aren’t interested in personal or professional growth may perceive coaching as excessive micromanagement, however, so it’s best used with highly motivated team members.

Pacesetting. Talented teams that are already motivated and skilled can benefit from a pacesetting leader. Instead of just telling these teams what to do, a pacesetting leader models the behavior they expect, as well as demonstrating the high standards they require. Although this leadership style can be highly beneficial to the right group, too much of it with the wrong team can create a toxic work environment where employees feel like innovation is being squelched and that they are consistently failing to live up to expectations.

Coercive/Commanding. Stiff and domineering, coercive or commanding leadership is one of the oldest and least flexible leadership styles. Instead of relying on praise and team building, coercive leaders command their workers and correct problems through criticism. This approach may be effective in times of crisis or when you’re forced to correct a problem employee and should be considered a leadership style of last resort.

What’s your Leadership Style? Knowing a little more about leadership styles can make it easier to understand why your team responds to you in the way that they do. Of course, most people use a combination of leadership styles, so if you’re still not getting the results you’re after, trying out another form of leadership better suited to the situation might make all the difference.

Work Life Balance Begins With You

Work/Life Balance Begins with You

I know it can be difficult to put your job down at the end of the day, especially when you have so many things left to do and so much work that can’t stay in your Inbox another minute. But once that’s finished, you can go home and unwind, right? Just as you get through the door, though, your phone will undoubtedly ring or your email will alert you to yet another message waiting for you – sometimes it seems as if the time and attention your work demands is never-ending.

Or is it? The truth is that although you may have a very important and very demanding career, you could be doing more to help yourself achieve a better work/life balance. You deserve a life outside of the office, one that’s every bit as fulfilling as you imagine it might be.

Ways to Achieve Better Work/Life Balance

Yes, it can be easy to let work dominate your life to the point that it feels like you’re always working and never living. This is why professionals like yourself are at such high risk for work-related burnout. After all, if you’re thinking about work all the time, you never have a chance to recharge your batteries!

But don’t worry — there are several easy ways to put your life back into balance. These are some of my favorites:

1. Hire an Assistant. Having a “right hand” to help you stay organized, sort your important emails and screen phone calls will free up a surprising amount of your time. With the ability to focus on the work in front of you uninterrupted, you’ll be able to put more projects to bed faster, leaving time at the end of the day for your own pursuits – and your life.

2. Schedule Time for Yourself. If you’re anything like me, you cling fast to your calendar — if there’s something penciled in, you’re going to make sure it gets accomplished. It may sound silly, but if you schedule time for yourself every day and keep that appointment, you’ll soon find doing for yourself becomes a habit. Whether you start the morning with an appointment for breakfast with your kids or schedule time at the gym after lunch, giving yourself permission to be away from work is a great start to a healthy work/life balance.

3. Learn to Say “No.” You may be the most talented person on the team, which is why everybody comes to you for help in the first place, but you don’t always have to say “yes” when someone demands your attention. In fact, you may want to think about saying “no” much more often than you do, both to give yourself some breathing room between big projects and to give the other people on your team a chance to develop their skills as well. When you start saying “no,” you also give yourself a chance to take back control of your schedule.

What’s next for your life’s balance? I know it can be hard to put work away long enough to do anything else, but work/life balance is crucial for your long-term success. It’s simply not worth feeling stressed out, overworked or taken advantage of because you can’t pull yourself away from your job. (It’s not healthy or sustainable, either.) Instead of falling into that trap, take control and give yourself permission to rest, recharge and enjoy life outside of your office. Go ahead and turn off your Smartphone, just for tonight, and give it a try.

6 Ways to Be a More Motivational Leader

6 Ways to Be a More Motivational Leader

When you’re the one asked to lead a group of people, it can be a tricky line to walk.

After all, you’re the one responsible if your workers fail to see a project through to the finish, but motivating your team to greatness is more than just giving out assignments and punishment. In fact, motivational leaders, by and large, are the unsung heroes of the business world. They’re also the cogs that hold great teams together.

Being a motivational leader is a lot more work than simply ordering your team around. In fact, this type of leadership creates a sense of loyalty and cohesiveness that ensures success far beyond your current project. Here are six ways that you can become a more motivational leader right now:

Be yourself. Your team (and people in general) can smell a fake a mile away. If you’re behaving how you believe you have to in order to gain respect, you’ll do anything but. Be genuine with your employees, be yourself and they’ll have no reason to worry that you’re hiding anything from them.

Tackle every problem honestly. Along with being your genuine self, it’s important that you approach every problem honestly. Skip the business clichés and empty buzzwords and spell out the problems and rewards that lie ahead, even if you think your team won’t like hearing what you have to say. Employees by and large appreciate honesty, whether the news is bad or good – and having all the information makes it easier for them to make the right decisions and take the best actions.

Model the behavior you’d like to see. In management, it’s often the case that leaders ask employees to do things they’d never do themselves. For example, if a project is behind schedule and you ask your workers to stay late in order to catch up, you should be right there with them. Instead of leading from afar, lead by example and you’ll inspire your team to greater heights.

Take an interest in your employees. There’s a fine line between being interested and being overly interested, but knowing your employees on a personal level can help you form stronger team bonds. In addition, getting to know the people you work with can reveal hidden talents or interests that might come in handy at some point in the future. Treat your employees like trusted friends and you’ll be surprised how much harder they work to try to impress you.

Help employees develop new skills. Mentoring is a tried-and-true way to develop new employee skills, but the often under-celebrated side effect is a team that’s always ready to learn and tackle new challenges. If you give your employees a chance to learn new skills under your watch, you’ll not only benefit from their new found expertise, but you’ll find that they’ll be more motivated to push themselves in order to access even greater opportunities.

Celebrate team accomplishments. Money will only buy so much effort from your team, but truly celebrating their victories like they were your own can create waves of motivation throughout your department. Show your team members how much their work means to you by acknowledging it in a very visible and satisfying (for them) way.

What does being a motivational leader mean to you? Being a motivational leader comes naturally to some people, others need more practice. But if you treat your team members like they’re your equals, learn more about them and show them how much you truly appreciate their work each and every day, you’ll soon be the inspirational leader you’ve always dreamed of becoming.