So what is leadership? Leadership FAQs answered.

leadership faqs

Leadership FAQs asked by you, answered by the trainers.

We’ve put together our favourite leadership FAQs and provided in-depth answers. There is no perfect ‘leader’. Remember that we all have our quirks and in order to grow, we must learn from our mistakes. These q&a’s should work as a guide to make you more aware of leadership generally and it’s positive impact.

What is leadership?

Leadership is the ability to lead or drive a group, individual or team forward to a defined goal. Over time, the definition of leadership has evolved to include the individual characteristics of being a leader, such as; empathy, motivation, effective communication and creativity. Additionally, new forms of leadership have derived from the original definition, such as; empathetic leadership, post-heroic leadership, mindful leadership etc. At its core, leadership is a skill needed by managers to achieve a goal or objective.

Can leadership be taught or trained?

Leadership is a characteristic that can come naturally to some, whilst others need leadership training to help develop their skills. Innate leaders naturally are great orators. They are able to succinctly and effectively communicate business goals to their colleagues and inspire them to work more effectively.

For others training and practise may be required in order to grow their leadership skills. Training may come in the form of reading online content, coaching and practising what they’ve learned within their working environment. Additionally, there are leadership training courses for all levels that help to grow and refine your leadership skills.

As with anything, if you’re trying to grow or train your leadership skills, this is will take time and practise makes perfect. As a recommendation, practise one facet of leadership one week at a time. For example, communicating like a leader. Start by practising using words and terminology your leaders also use, and in a confident manner, to come across more authoritative within your team.

What are the four leadership styles?

There are four traditional leadership styles. The first three; Autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire are the result of a research study in 1939, led by Kurt Lewin, which identified three common leadership styles. Later on, ‘paternalistic’ leadership was added as some leaders acted as a patriarch and treat their team like family.

Autocratic leadership is a style that is referred to as the McGregor ‘Theory X’ management style, where power and control are the main vices for managing people. Autocratic or ‘authoritative leaders’ see communication as a one-way channel, often micro-managing their teams using the archaic motivation 2.0 strategy in order to motivate their teams. These types of managers often have formal and strict systems and processes in place, leaving teams disengaged with their work.

Paternalistic leaders lead in a way similar to a parent with a child. Whilst they are still authoritative and show little delegation, their approach is much softer and this results in a much more engaged workplace. This leadership style often expects loyalty as a result of their consideration towards their team.  This leadership style can often result in a work being delivered efficiently and effectively by members of the team.

Democratic leaders are often more collaborative, showcasing a style that is popular with the wider team. Whilst the leader is the key decision maker, the team tend to have much more involvement within their work. Whilst this can make things slower, the trade-off is, of course, a much more motivated team.

Laissez-faire leaders leave the day-to-day decision-making to their team. This style really provides autonomy within roles and can increase motivation and employee engagement exponentially. Additionally, their delegation style is to provide freedom to the wider team – relating back to the ability to have autonomy.

How leadership differs from management?

Traditionally, management was seen as running the machine, whereas leadership is seen as actively leading a group to achieve a goal. Managers that have little or no leadership skills believe that the machine holds the power, whereas leaders believe the people power the machine.

Additionally, managers without leadership skills often micro-manage and struggle to delegate tasks, taking up time, stifling creativity and reducing employee morale. Leaders, on the other hand, work the opposite way and utilise a desire for purpose, mastery and creative input on work to drive inspiration and motivation within their team.

Each is effective in its own way; however, if engagement and turnover are internal business KPIs, taking a leadership approach will bring greater results.

How does leadership affect development?

When the world innovates and changes, you can often expect it to be the result of a leader’s actions. Great leaders are not afraid to gamble and take risks and this impacts development for the better. The desire to push boundaries, challenge their talent and motivate their team to bring their idea to life drives knowledge and experience, enhances individuals talents, opens minds and generally develops not only the people within the team but the final project/product being delivered.

How does leadership affect culture?

The internal culture will naturally reflect the leaders within the organisation. If you have a particularly creative leader, the delivered output and the office culture will often be more creative. If you have a workplace with a lot of office politics, this may be reflective of a leader who gossips.

Within many teams, there are individuals who aspire to achieve more and drive their careers forward. They will often look to the team leader to see how they act and determine which parts of their style they can use to inspire their own work and character within the office. This means potentially negative traits can cascade from the top down and spread across the team affecting the culture within and creating a negative place to work. Alternatively, the same can be said about positive characteristics continually improving team culture and performance as a result of cascading from top to bottom.

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