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Characteristics of a Good Leader: Leadership Styles in the Workplace
Leadership in the Workplace
When most people hear the word leader in reference to the workplace, they often assume that you are referring to the boss or manager of the company. Although this is a position of power, it is not necessarily a person who is a leader. Leaders come in many forms and positions within a company. A leader is anyone who engages the people around them to bring a shared vision to the forefront of the company in order to achieve success.
What makes an effective leader?
Good leaders or bosses have certain characteristics. I'm sure that you can think of bosses who have been great leaders that you have worked for and you may have had bosses who are not great leaders and seem to take your place of business in a direction on his or her own. So what makes the good leaders stand out from the others?
- Leaders are good listeners. It behooves the leader to listen to the concerns along with the compliments of every employee within the company with an open mind.
- Leaders encourage others to be their best by setting a positive example. No one wants to hear a leader complain or nag. Criticism is important, but it must be done constructively. If an employee continually feels attacked or under the radar, he or she will not put forth his or her very best.
- Leaders know the difference between when it is important to step up and take charge and when to let others have an opportunity to shine.
- Leaders recognize hard work. Everyone wants to be noticed, it is human nature.
- Leaders are self reflective and encourage his or her employees to do the same.
Types of Leaders
My master's degree is in educational leadership. We spent much of our course work discussing types of leaders within a school system. The two types of leaders that were discussed were transactional leaders and transformational leaders. Although this was a course in educational leadership, I think that the basic principles of the two styles can be applied in any work setting. Of course there are always leaders who will fall specifically into one of these categories, but more likely than not, they will be a blend of the two.
Transactional leaders are the old do what I tell you type of leaders. In fact, they are not really leaders in the sense of having the knowledge of how to bring a group of people to successfully accomplish a goal. They are merely a boss who tells a group of employees how to do their jobs.
Transactional leaders operate from a system of networks that move from the top down. Those in the ivory tower and making the decisions for those in the trenches. I'm sure that many of us can relate to this type of boss.
Books on Leadership Qualities
A transformational leader does just that. He or she transforms the current bureaucratic system of operations to one that is collaborative and reflective. The transformational leader is not interested in the immediate rise in profit or productivity but is much more interested in working as a team to build moral and capacity within the organizational system. Once the group feels that they have a stake in this company, the rise in productivity and profit will come naturally as this will often be part of the shared vision of the entire group. This type of leader believes that we are all in this together. Transformational leaders create buy in among employees.
I always enjoy watching the tv show, Undercover Boss. Although there are times when the bosses get upset with what they see some employees doing in their company, most of the time they realize that many of the practices and policies that they have set up or enforced are not reasonable or good for the average employee and ultimately for the company as a whole. They often walk away thinking about the change that can be made because of the experiences that they had as an average employee within the company and listening to the concerns of those who are working those jobs on a daily basis.
If you are looking to improve your practice as a leader, look to your employees. They will provide you with a wealth of information if you are willing to listen.