In a world where the modern workplace is continually evolving and leaders are faced with ever-increasing pressures, the question of what leadership styles work has never been more pressing. Faced with the need to build high-functioning teams and deliver consistently competitive results, leaders are also required to know how to support and maintain both their own and their teams' wellbeing and performance.
Research has shown that effective leadership is a critical part of organisational health which, in turn, impacts shareholder returns. It is therefore no surprise that over 90% of CEOs are investing heavily in developing their leaders in the expectation that it will pay dividends through the performance of its workforce.
According to an article by McKinsey, traditional top-down leadership styles (such as planner, director and controller) are increasingly considered outdated and not always effective in today's global climate of geopolitical turmoil, economic instability and climate change. This latest piece of research identifies some of the key styles which are considered more effective in the current climate, that of visionary, coach, architect and catalyst.
The ability to shape a clear and compelling purpose that resonates throughout the team and beyond. To be able to draw this out through observation and listening to people, inviting others to present ideas for consideration and integrating those perspectives into the vision and then translating them into measurable outcomes that empowered teams can work towards.
Once a clear vision and objectives have been set, leaders must take on the role of designing an organisation to be a system that is able to plan, execute and act with agility to adjust the flow of resources in pursuit of those goals. They must create space for teams to reimagine how best they might work innovatively and efficiently. It requires leaders to be able to let go of limiting assumptions and beliefs to allow for new models to emerge.
As their teams are empowered to achieve their organisational and personal goals, they must learn new capabilities to be able to think more strategically. A leaders' role is to create a culture of learning, where it is comfortable to experiment and where they encourage formal and informal learning initiatives. They should initiate discussions that assess what works well and what could work better. By building a coaching mentality into interactions where they ask more questions than prescribe solutions they will expand the space for their team to develop.
As catalysts, leaders can release energy throughout the system. There are four primary ways for them to do this:
- Remove roadblocks - that inhibit empowered teams to bring ideas to reality.
- Foster connections - across the team to generate more cohesion and greater collaboration.
- Help people connect - the work their team are doing to the greater vision and goals of the organisation.
- Encourage inclusivity - by cultivating an environment where people can be themselves at work and can work in ways which work best for them.
In a study of over 200,000 people they discovered four types of behaviour that account for 89% of leadership effectiveness.
1. Solving problems effectively
Leaders that are able to precede any key decision-making with the process of gathering, analysing and considering information and outcomes are considered to be highly effective. This requires a commitment to be open-minded and conscious of drawing information from multiple sources and stakeholders. It depends on a leaders' ability to be able to play out multiple scenarios before deciding on what will have the most successful outcome for all involved.
2. Operating with a strong results orientation
Effective leadership is not just about being able to develop and communicate a vision or set objectives it is about the ability to follow through to achieve results. Leaders must have an ability to emphasise the importance of efficiency and productivity as well as prioritising the highest-value work.
3. Seeking different perspectives
Successful leaders encourage employees to contribute ideas that could improve performance, accurately differentiate between important and unimportant issues, and give the appropriate weight to stakeholder concerns. Leaders who do well typically base their decisions on sound analysis and avoid biases.
4. Supporting others
Leaders who are supportive understand and sense how other people feel. By being authentic and demonstrating a sincere interest in those around them, they build trust and inspire and
help colleagues to overcome challenges. They promote organisational efficiency, are able to allay fears about external threats and prevent the energy of the team from dissipating into internal conflict.
A leadership approach that focuses on co-creating meaningful value with and for all stakeholders is critical to retaining talent in organisations. By listening to what matters most to those that they work with and seeking to meet those desires, leaders will cultivate teams of high-performing people who come to work to feel energised and satisfied. In doing so, leaders will find that organisational success will inevitably follow.
The Conscious Leadership Co. seeks to help leaders to develop these skills through a series of lessons and reflections. By offering leaders the opportunity to assess their levels of consciousness through our psychometric we are able to identify areas of strength and areas for development. Through our learning platform, Consciously, we are able to deliver coaching to leaders through micro-lessons and space for reflection and experimentation.