6 Leadership Styles and How to be Successful

Being a good leader often means knowing what to do and when to do it. A good leader is an adaptive leader. Just like in a combat situation, different circumstances require different tactics. At times everyone knows what to do and the team members outperform themselves. That sort of situation will require a different leadership response than one in which you are dealing with a challenging project, where your team members are confused about what to do next. So, a successful leader needs to know when to give recognition, when to ‘boss people around’, when to direct efforts, or when to step out of the way and observe. That is why great leaders are comfortable changing their leadership style depending on what the goals and what the needs of the team are at that specific moment in time.

David Goldman presented the six leadership styles he found among managers, and how they can affect the future of the organization. When and if you choose to adapt these strategies is your call alone.

The authoritative leader focuses on the end goals. He doesn’t care about how everyone does it, as long as they follow his vision. It’s a style suited for situations where the team has the know-how, but needs a new outlook on things. It’s not suited for teams where the leader has less experience than the other members of the team. It bolsters initiative and enthusiasm.

The pacesetting leader focuses on speed. He expects everyone to know what to do, and he wants things done quickly. It’s great if the team is motivated and has the skill expected, but in the long run it can deter innovation and demotivate the team.

The coaching leader focuses on the people. He wants to make sure everyone reaches their full potential. It’s perfect for assessing your team or for low-paced projects. It can lead to negative reactions if the team doesn’t like change, so be careful.

The affiliative leader focuses on group structure. He focuses on getting people together and giving them a sense of belonging. It’s useful for stressful projects, or with new teams. On its own, it can lead to people feeling that low performance is tolerated, so it needs to be combined with another leadership style.

The coercive leader focuses on hierarchy. The leader expects everyone to do as he tells them to. It’s a style suited for a crisis, or for controlling a conflict or a conflict-causing team member if an amiable solution cannot be found. Used carelessly it can cause distrust, a hostile work environment, and discourage innovation.

The democratic leader focuses on empowerment. The leader will ask for the opinion of teammates, a very useful method for those situations where the leader lacks experience in a matter, or he wants the team to take responsibility and feel responsible for an idea or goal. It should be avoided in a crisis situation when it would just cost you irreplaceable time.


If you want to know why your leadership style is important, read our article – “Why your leadership style matters

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How to run a business like 3M

There is no denying that innovation is one of the most dominant forces in business, and has been for centuries, if not longer. Creativity breeds interest, which subsequently draws profits from consumers. Where many companies fall short in this department is by limiting the access points of innovation and creativity to the research and development teams, and assuming that other job descriptions don’t leave room for interesting thoughts and cutting edge proposals. Who can say that the next world-changing idea won’t come from an intern at an office supply company? That is the beautiful and fascinating component of genius; there is no telling where it might come from.

A certain office supply giant has shaped a company culture and vision around that exact fact over the past century, and 3M has empowered every employee to take a shot at changing the world, because they have seen it happen before. This quiet titan of innovation and design currently holds the patent on more than 20,000 products, many of which came from outside the box thinking from people that aren’t even directly involved in product design. 3M set the bar in terms of innovative time structures in big businesses by instituting 15% Time, which allows every employee to spend 15% of their weekly working hours on their own, independent projects and ideas. They can collaborate, use company resources, and basically veer off in unexpected directions and creative tangents without any supervision. It was this policy that resulted in the Post-It Note, one of the most widely recognized and used office supplies in the world; it wouldn’t have been possible if this company didn’t allow their workers to control their own destiny and time management within the company. Hundreds of other products have stemmed from this same liberating time structure, and not only does this give employees a sense of empowerment and value, but it also results in the overall progress and growth of the company.

There is a time and place for strict regulation of how creative time is spent, but there must also be an allotment of freedom for employees that have ideas and inklings of what the “next big thing” might be. Finding the balance between strict, hierarchical command and a free for all of pure creative license is one that every company must strike, but those that lean towards opening up their workers’ minds to new ideas and free reign over their own imagination tend to succeed in the marketplace.

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Why Your Leadership Style Matters

The first step in building not only a functional, but also high-performance team is to acknowledge the difference between managing and leading.  We often tend to discuss these two concepts as being one and the same thing, but the fact is that being a manager is not necessarily the same thing as being a leader.

The manager is mainly an administrator. He ensures that his team has what it needs to reach the goals of the company. That, of course, applies not only to office supplies and the like. A good manager needs to also ensure that his team is properly trained, that the members of the team are happy; he needs to be aware of any dysfunctions within the team, and help solve the conflicts smoothly in order to maintain productivity. He is also responsible for providing positive or negative feedback, and guidance to the employees.

The leader is a motivator. He can be anyone in the team, regardless of position in the hierarchy. His authority stems from people’s respect of his abilities. He has the leadership skills, the charisma, and the experience to motivate, guide, and give people purpose.

A good manager needs to also be a leader. But he needn’t feel threatened by other emerging leaders. Instead, he should make use of this situation. A leader will give the team a new perspective, fresh ideas, and will inspire those around him. A managerial position in a firm doesn’t mean you know everything. It’s worth asking for a second opinion – it not only makes you lose less time and make better calls, it also earns you the trust and respect of those who feel empowered this way.

The decisions you make as a manager directly influence the success of the business. However, Daniel Goldsman’s research, “Leadership that gets results”, has uncovered that a business’ success was also directly influenced by the manager’s leadership style. In fact, leadership style accounted for 30% of the profitability of the business. That’s huge.

So what is the best leadership style for a manager? Find out in our article, “6 Leadership Styles and how to be successful”.

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Open your ears and mind to input

Your business is the result of your vision. However, no vision can be realized in a vacuum. The minute you bring your business to the real world, you need to open your ears and your mind to input. This input will come from all quarters: board members, customers, employees and partners. All of them have a stake in your business and all of them bring a unique perspective to its operation. This input is essential, and your success depends on you weighing every opinion. When you disagree with that input, listen even harder. Chances are you’ll be able to glean value from even the most strident criticism.

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The rise of networked management

It can be hard to objectively appraise how different the nature of daily human interaction has become due to the rise of social media and social networks. We now have measurably more contact with other human beings than we’ve ever had before. Not only that, but our social networks have infiltrated every aspect of our lives. They define the kind of political messages we are exposed to, the entertainment we consume, the jobs we apply for and everything else. An understanding, on a scientific level, of the emerging dynamic of social network interaction will be a vital survival tool for any business that hopes to survive in the coming century.

This means much more than just “social media marketing.” It means understanding your company’s place and function within an increasingly lush and densely layered digital network. More thinking time is spent engaging with social networks than any other form of social interaction. We need to study them the way marketers studied the dynamics of suburban life and the nuclear family in the 50s. They are just as definitive of our modern lifestyle as the rotary club was back then. Taking a superficial or half-hearted approach to this may not show its effects immediately, but will absolutely harm your ability to function in the long term.

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How to invest in employees

This is intimately related to Value Creation. Just as you have to believe in the value of your product, you have to respect the value your employees bring to that product and ensure that they continue to do so. This can often come with a hefty price tag and lengthy time commitment. Finding the right person to add to your team can be a grueling, painstaking process. Don’t just think of hiring as filling vacancies. Think of it as adding unique and valuable talent to your organization.

The most successful organizations find ways to tap into the inherent talents of every person on their team. If you do this successfully, not only will you get the best work possible for your money, but your employee will feel recognized and validated as an integral part of the team. This promotes employee loyalty and productivity, which are values in themselves. I don’t need to tell you how destructive and expensive it can be to lose an employee, especially during a critical transition period. Unfortunately, difficult times are when it’s most likely for employees to leave. Avoiding this requires giving your employees an emotional and practical stake in the success of your business.

Achieving this requires a hands-on approach by management. Knowing the strengths and limits of each employee and tailoring educational and promotion strategies to them is essential. Equally essential is understanding the career goals of your employees: will you be able to offer them a satisfying job in the long term? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself every day.

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5 amazing things I have learned from Warren Buffet

Being the smartest person in the room makes everything easier. Unfortunately, most of us will never be the smartest person in the room or company. So how do you get ahead when you know there are other people around you who are smarter than you, or who simply know more?

Specialise. Learn what you need to know and then understand it completely. Make your knowledge matter. So much of management seems to forget what it’s like to be an employee working hourly and so they don’t know the struggles that job entails. Be the person who knows the company from the ground up. Say you’re managing a team of carpenters. What good is your managerial experience if you don’t know what a carpenter has to do day in and day out? How can you manage people you don’t understand? How can you make them successful?

Warren Buffett is one of the wealthiest men in the world, and is one of the most well regarded business mentors you can find. Forbes magazines considers his entire fortune to have been made through investment. While that’s not the whole story, it shows that Buffett knows what he’s doing in the business world. He didn’t become a billionaire by simply buying and selling stocks. He built Berkshire Hathaway into a wildly successful company and used its success to buy other companies. Warren Buffett doesn’t invest in stocks. He buys businesses. Because of that, he’s more interested in knowing how a business works and why it’s successful. He learns a business inside and out, to make sure he knows exactly what he’s getting and what he can do with it. I’ve collected some of his best business advice here.

1. Understand your business.

For your company to work, you need to understand it from the ground up, from the most basic to the most complex. If Buffett knows anything, he knows Berkshire Hathaway and that’s why he’s a success. He also never invests in a business he doesn’t understand. With your company, know it inside and out. If you become a success and come into the market for acquiring new companies, don’t just listen to advice or pitches. Make certain you understand how and why that company works or you’ll end up with a mess.

2. “Accounting is the language of business.”

Know your numbers. Everything a company does must be reflected by the accounting books. How well do you understand that end of business? How well do you understand that element of your ow company? Business is all about the numbers, and if you don’t know the numbers then you don’t know business. You don’t need to be your own accountant, but it’s absolutely imperative that you be financially literate.

3. Management is fundamental to success.

An entrepreneur can start a successful business, but it takes a great management team to sustain that company and make it grow. Buffett always pays a lot of attention to management because without good management, your business has nothing. Great management can turn a mediocre company into a great one, but bad management can take a hugely successful company and ruin it. This comes down to you as a hirer and owner. Management is there to take care of your business, and if they can’t do that, then you need to find someone who can.

4. Only work with people you trust.

Who is your partner? Who will you do business with? This is related to the previous one, but at a deeper level. You need to trust your employees, but you really need to trust and know your associates. Entering into a partnership is like a marriage. If things don’t go as planned, it will eat at that relationship, so pick a partner you have a long friendship with. Pick a partner with a positive outlook. Pick a partner who complements your abilities.

5. Think long term.

Today’s successes may be tomorrow’s failures. While there may be huge short term opportunities, be sure to understand where those lead. You need to look at your company and your interactions in terms of years, not in terms of months.

Warren Buffett won’t make you successful, but he gives you a roadmap. If you can follow his advice, you’ll be a step ahead of the competition. Know yourself. Know your business. Know your employees and partners and colleagues. Other CEOs may have flashier advice about success, but most of them aren’t the richest man in the world.

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The end of pure profit-machines

If I asked you what the bottom line in any business should be – what represents the cornerstone and standard measure of success in traditional business theory – I’m sure that you would quickly and assuredly answer: “Profit!”

Traditional business models take profit to be the ultimate goal of any business plan. The standard methods purported to be most effective in generating profit are reducing costs, increasing prices, and maximizing productivity. Unfortunately, this model can be extremely damaging to businesses in the modern corporate landscape. (more…)

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How to run a business like Facebook

Adults spend more than 60% of their waking lives working, which is a staggering number when you think about all of the other diversions that there are in life. Many people think that spending the majority of your waking life working for someone else is unfortunate, and if you are working in a job that you truly dislike, or for a company that doesn’t care about your individual happiness, then yes, it can be quite a horrible fate. Luckily, in many of today’s most exciting and dynamic industries, talented and intelligent people are given the opportunity to choose where they want those talents to be directed. The most valuable assets on the market will base their choice for future place of employment on a number of factors. One of those very important aspects, considering they might spend more than half of their waking hours at work, is the social dynamic of the company itself.

The fact of the matter is that we are social creatures, and we bond with those around us who face similar challenges and understand the intricacies of our lives, because they share those same complexities. Our friends often include the people we work with, and we build social networks based on the people we have the most contact with. If you could work with friends as often as you see them out in public, the daily commute might not be so bad. Our generation of social networking platforms and interconnectedness make it easier to stay connected outside of work, but working at a place like Facebook means you are not only working for the largest social network in the world, but you are also living in a professional environment where friendships, social connections, and constant collaboration is encouraged.

Your company can increase its overall happiness by urging workers to bond and share ideas, go out for coffee, meet socially and professionally outside the walls of the office, and create an ongoing atmosphere of progress and creativity, no matter where they are. Some might argue that the workplace is for work, and personal life is for yourself, and while that remains true, the lines are increasingly blurred as we begin to use personal applications and platforms both for business and pleasure. If you can shape your company culture to integrate social networking and boost interconnectivity and trust between workers, you might see a major increase in productivity, innovation, and progress.

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Are you ready for virtual workforce?

The new generation of managers must be adept at managing a wider variety of relationships outside of the confines of the company and around the world. Telecommuting is just the tip of this iceberg. The team members on an individual project might be scattered across the globe from Hong Kong to New York, and managing them requires skills in collaborative thinking and decision-making. More importantly it requires the ability to know how to motivate people whose goals and ambitions are very different from your own. You need to be comfortable with the prospect of trusting people who you may never meet in person.

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