Five Leadership Styles That Inspire Exceptional Performance
By: Roberta Matuson
Developing your own leadership style, one that inspires exceptional performance from your workforce, is an on-going process.
The fact is, successful leadership styles are never a “one-size-fits-all” affair. They often reflect the leader’s unique approach to business. When formulating your own style of effective leadership, why not learn from the best?
Here are five examples to help inspire and motivate you that will also generate employee engagement.
1. People-centric leadership. In 2014, Arthur T. Demoulas, CEO of family-owned Market Basket grocery-store chain made international headlines when employee protested when the company’s board fired him.
As a leader, Demoulas was so well loved that employees followed him out the door and went straight to the picket line and protested — for six long weeks.
Eventually Arthur T., as he’s commonly referred to, was reinstated as CEO. His people-centric leadership style is certainly worth noting.
Arthur T. is one of those rare leaders who consistently puts people over profits while offering customers low prices. What is truly extraordinary is the level of allegiance that his leadership has generated from both employees and customers alike.
Leaders who adhere to a people-centric style of leadership put their people first. These are leaders who pay a livable wage because they want to — not because they have to. They offer hourly workers benefits such as profit sharing. They treat their employees like they matter, because they do.
In return, their employees are willing to sacrifice everything on behalf of their leader. They work hard and give their all — without ever being asked to do so.
2. Charismatic leadership. Charismatic leaders are those who are naturally charming. They demonstrate confidence and easily draw people towards them.
These leaders have similar qualities as those who excel in sales. They easily engage people in conversation and tend to be more like a favorite uncle than a boss. They work the room well and seem to put others at ease.
Entrepreneur Jim Berluti, co-founder and president of Woburn, Mass, Eastern Connection is a great example of a charismatic leader.
His engaging leadership style has helped him garner support from employees at all levels of the organization, during some tumultuous economic times. Under his leadership, Eastern Connection has grown from a small business to one of the largest regional, small-package carriers on the East Coast.
Charismatic leaders are passionate about their vision and are well skilled at workplace communications. Their passion is intoxicating, which means they easily attract others to follow their calling.
This style of leadership works particularly well in organizations that are going through change or crisis. The leaders persuasiveness helps to swiftly move the team forward.
3. Disruptive leadership. It’s easy to follow the crowd, although it’s not always effective. Today, leaders are expected to slash a new path in the marketplace for their organization, to disrupt business as usual. Disruptive leadership is about going against the grain. It’s what happens when a leader realizes he or she needs to take matters into his or her own hands and shake things up. These leaders say the unthinkable to spark transformation.
Leaders who have a disruptive leadership style are considered to be bold. They have a compelling vision and are relentless in their approach towards achieving success. Leading-edge companies are often started and run by disruptive leaders.
Virgin founder and CEO Richard Branson is a perfect example of a disruptive leader. He shakes up every market he enters. Along the way, he works towards building trust with customers and employees. He encourages inventive and unorthodox action. His excitement is contagious.
4. Quiet leadership. Some of the best and most productive leaders aren’t necessarily the loudest. They go about creating change in a quiet way.
These type of leaders value thinking before action. They often go out of their way to create an environment where ideas have time to marinate before being cooked up and served.
You might not expect the founder of Facebook to be reserved, but Mark Zuckerberg is a classic quiet leader. He works quietly behinds the scenes, carefully orchestrating his company’s next move. In spite of what you may personally think of Facebook, his company is wildly successful.
Leaders who subscribe to the style of quiet leadership don’t seek a lot of fanfare. They gain satisfaction knowing they are creating a workplace where people are judged on their talent, not their politicking.
Quiet leaders succeed by acting rather than talking. Their actions inspire others to do the same. They also give credit where credit is due, which results in additional exceptional employee performance.
5. Collaborative leadership. The collaborative leadership style of management is based on the belief that the sum is more valuable than the parts. Team building and power-sharing replace the traditional style of “Do What You Are Told” leadership.
Collaborative leaders recognize that brainstorming and different perspectives can bring unique insights to problem-solving as well as new product development.
Transparency is the corner stone of collaborative leadership. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is the first person that comes to mind when talking about transparency and collaborative leadership.
Zappos’ corporate culture includes all-hands-on employee meetings are streamed live on the Internet so that everyone, including outsiders, can see into the workings of the organization. Anyone can tour the company at their headquarters in Las Vegas, for a small fee. What a terrific way to see first hand how powerful collaborative leadership can be.
Education is part of the DNA of this leadership style as decision-making is often shared. Employee “crowdsourcing” is opening up new paths to exceptional performance and growth.
Employees find this particular style of leadership quite satisfying, as they feel more in control of their lives both professionally and personally, which yields greater productivity all around.
As you develop your personal style of leadership, you’ll be faced with many choices as your business goes through its lifecycle. Successful leaders recognize that their style will indeed need to change in response to both internal and external forces.