Leaders keep the world in motion. Their actions shape the community and work environment. However, it’s important to remember that not all effective leaders are identical. Great leaders, like great employees, come in all different shapes and sizes.

So, why do leadership styles matter? Adopting a leadership style can help position the learning leader as a strategic leader with the tools and assets to equip other leaders. It also helps with building team collaboration and work flows. Having a transparent leadership style can encourage trust between employees; however, first, the leader must trust themselves.

The leadership journey should begin with critical thinking to identify the personal and professional starting point as a leader. This is critical in visualizing where you want to go and what you’ll have to do to get there. Once the learning leader has a better understanding of their characteristics and communication style and how this influences their work, they will be able to project their core values and mission unto others with confidence.

Confidence provides the skills and coping mechanisms to turn to when handling professional setbacks. While different working environments demand different styles of leadership, a great leader begins by believing in themselves and then blending the styles that best serve them and their teams.

Let’s examine four leadership styles that learning and development (L&D) leaders can embody with their own teams, and key ways to navigate the attributes that come with each style.

Leadership Styles For L&D Leaders

1) Autocratic. Autocratic leaders are assertive and direct with a high focus on results. While some might think of an autocratic leadership approach as controlling, blending some of the qualities from this type of leadership style can be quite effective.

Autocratic leaders are constantly pushing boundaries with the mindset of producing results as quickly as possible. This style of strong leadership often expects accuracy and perfection from the people around them.

This leadership style enforces a consistent and productive environment, which is why it works well in situations that benefit from high levels of control, such as:

  • Manufacturing.
  • The military.
  • Operations where efficiency (focused on one key goal or number) is critical.

2) Influential. Influential leaders lead through powerful influence opposed to micro-managing and thrive in high-performing industries. This leadership style involves making a positive impact to influence a team’s performance. These types of L&D leaders usually have upbeat, optimistic personalities. They are excellent collaborators that often turn to grand, innovative thinking to focus on the bigger picture.

Leaders who use this style are often entrusted with moving a company in a new direction, as they champion unity and positivity during difficult times. However, influential leaders can sometimes struggle with following through on ideas, as they don’t have the patience for dealing with the smaller details. So it is important to keep this in mind when embodying the traits of an influential leader.

3) Supportive. A supportive leader is receptive and empathetic with the focus to support their employees until task completion. Their aim is to overcome workforce development challenges while empowering their team to handle tasks.

Because of their focus on employee satisfaction, they tend to garner respect and admiration from co-workers. You can often find this type of leader having one-on-one coffee meetings with their employees to hear any concerns or feedback. This style of leadership boosts office morale and increases employee engagement.

Supportive leaders can sometimes prioritize their team’s opinions over their own, so it is imperative that they continue to speak up about their own challenges and seek support as well.

4) Pacesetter. Pacesetter leadership involves leading from the front and setting high standards for their team with the expectation for minimal management or interference. Pacesetters lead with precision and are methodical about every decision they make.

However, their logical approach often helps them spot minor details that other leaders may miss. Oftentimes, pacesetters expect their team to have a high level of self-motivation. While this can help employees gain self-confidence, this distant approach can decrease morale and motivation in employees, thus creating issues with retention.

Pacesetter leaders are not antisocial, but they do prefer to work in their office alone as to create a quiet, productive space. For this kind of leader to thrive, they need to keep an open mind to new and different approaches, while setting time to motivate and hear from their employees.

Moving Forward

Remember to adapt each leadership style according to your personality, characteristics and communication style, and to be open to blending the good qualities of different leadership styles together.

To become adaptable across leadership styles, a learning leader must internalize their best assets with the mindset to continuously improve upon their skills. Through adopting this process, L&D leaders can benefit both their teams and the entire organization.

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