Choosing the Right Approach

Develop Your Personal Leadership Style

Develop your leaders and promote your company. Successful companies and headhunters are looking for top-class leadership personalities. Personal leadership style is therefore a decisive quality which you can deliberately direct and optimize throughout your career. Successful senior managers undergo a continuous process of change.

personal leadership style

No one style of leadership fits all situations. So, it’s useful to understand different leadership frameworks and styles.

Whoever stands still and does not develop could miss interesting career chances. For companies, it is also important to rely on the right leadership personality, whose leadership style significantly contributes to strategic direction. Companies that put the “wrong” manager at the helm run the risk of losing connections to the competition and weakening their position on the market.

The Seven Types of Leadership Personalities

Bill Torbert, Professor at Boston College and successful author, and David Rooke have studied various leadership styles together. In their work “Seven Transformations of Leadership”, they classify seven different types of leadership personalities.

Through self-reflection, managers can move between the leadership types during their career, thereby optimally developing their leadership style.

The differences result less from leadership philosophy, leadership style or the individual’s personality – reasoning plays more of a central role. How does a leader interpret various influences and how do they react when personal security or position of power is under attack:

  • The Opportunist battles through and reaches his goals – no matter what.
  • The Diplomat shies away from conflict and conforms to the group.
  • The Expert uses logic and wisdom to lead and act rationally.
  • The Achiever concentrates on the strategic goals, integrates team work and is conscious of market demands.
  • The Individualist succeeds in balancing their personal reasoning with that of the company and builds structures to offset deficits between strategy and performance.
  • The Strategist understands how to empathetically use emotions as a powerful instrument to bring about change in a company and its employees.
  • The Alchemist creates social change and integrates the material, spiritual and societal change.

Torbert and Rooke describe the first four leadership personalities as the conventional leadership style, the last three as the post-conventional leadership style. As a basis for their work, Torbert and Rooke undertook a study in which they compared company managers with their success and employee leadership.

They concluded that companies whose leadership personalities correlated to the first three types – Opportunist, Diplomat and Expert – show below-average performance. 55 percent of participants were classified into these three types. A further 30 percent of participants corresponded to the Achiever personality, who delivered clearly more effective results.

Only 15 percent of senior managers could be classified as Individualist, Strategist or Alchemist. These leadership personalities have the capabilities to always keep their company in the market with innovations.

Europe is lacking good leadership personalities

According to a study by British management consultancy Ashridge, the Opportunist leadership type is most common in management. With help from the MBTI personality test, 22,000 European managers were analysed to identify the prevailing leadership type. Are there enough leadership personalities in the ranks of Europe’s leaders?

85 percent of respondents admitted to keeping a strict leadership style. Accordingly, empathy and co-operation as a basis for interaction seem to be lacking in European offices. A modern CEO with an understanding of the competencies and needs of his employees can therefore create a brand new, effective working relationship. The study showed a propensity towards extroversion and planned actions.

The subject of leadership personalities therefore shows a lot of development potential.

Courage for self-reflection

How can you improve your own leadership qualities and become a successful leadership personality? Torbert and Rooke found in their study that those managers who took time to assess themselves could develop their personality and capabilities. They rose to become Strategists or Alchemists and could therefore improve their companies’ success.

Self-reflection is thus indispensable in the development of a leadership personality. Those who admit to mistakes and show the will to innovate and change will be successful in the future.

Outstanding leadership personalities are seldom born—they learn these capabilities during their career. Therefore never be drawn to the prevailing leadership style or stay at your current level of development; instead, always progress forward.

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