A “style” is a manner of doing something. There are music styles, art styles, martial arts styles, communication styles, cooking styles, thinking styles, learning styles, work styles, organization styles, writing styles, and yes, leadership styles…among many other subjects of style. Styles can merely be an expression of like and dislike. Styles can also be deep manifestations of a person’s core—their very being. Let’s look at art styles, for example.
One of my favorite things to do when visiting Maui, Hawaii is to roam the art gallery/stores in Lahaina. (The picture above is of Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii.) Julie and I could never afford one of these pieces of art, but a wonderful evening can be spent just looking at the art. As I walk through an establishment, there are many about which I could say, “I like that.” (And even more that I don’t.) I may like a given piece because the subject is whimsical, beautiful, or thought provoking. There are some, though, that I could stare at (and have) for a very long time. These are my style of art.
I can’t explain why this happens, but there are some paintings and photographs that just pull me in. My mind goes on a journey within the art. I’m thinking right now of a painting of a very old European city street lined with cafes, flower shops, bakeries, and other businesses. On one corner, there is a cafe with outdoor seating—all tables for two. Benches and hanging flower pots punctuate the sidewalks. Everything is pleasant and serene. At the back of the scene, the street bends to the right, out of view behind one of the buildings. There are no people in the picture. The painting is, in effect, inviting me to bring someone special to wander the street designed for our exclusive enjoyment. And, perhaps, we will journey down the street to find out what beautiful scene is around the bend.
That’s my style of art.
Does a certain kind of music often bring you to tears or make you feel exuberant with joy? That’s probably your style of music.
If you like to cook, there is probably a certain type that you enjoy the most and want to share with your friends, not just because you know it will be a good meal, but because you know the meal will bring them almost as much joy in the tasting as you had in the preparing. That’s your style of cooking.
Are you a teacher, leader, pastor, or trainer? When you communicate with people there is probably a mode of communication that comes naturally to you. When you engage in this communication, it is effortless, people engage with your message, and you feel strongly connected with them. This is your style of communication.
What about leadership? Are there styles of leading? There most certainly are.
You may not be a cook. You may not have a style of cooking. You might not be an artist and you may not enjoy art. You might not have a style of art. However, you are a leader. You do have a style of leadership.
There are several different ways to classify styles of leadership. For now, in this series of posts, I’m going to explore a simplified model of situational leadership. I’ll begin to get into the details in my next post. For now, I want you to consider something that is unique about leadership styles: Your leadership style may not always be the right leadership style.
Leadership is different than art, cooking, music, and many other subjects of style. There isn’t a right or wrong style of art. It’s hard to say that there is an “appropriate” style of art for my office or living room. There isn’t a right or wrong style of cooking. There isn’t necessarily an appropriate style of cooking for a party, a dinner guest, or even a wedding or funeral gathering.
There are indeed appropriate styles of leadership, though. Different situations need different styles of leadership. (Thus the name “situational leadership.”) I’m going to begin an exploration of three styles of leadership in my next post. For now, my challenge to you is to think about the following two questions:
- Is my natural approach to leading always the best strategy for the situation?
- Am I in tune with what my team members need from me as their leader?
Those questions are important because the foundational theme in this series on leadership styles is that when you lead with the most appropriate style, you help others develop their skills and they become better leaders.
Here is a summary of the articles in this series:
- Introduction (this article) – What’s Your Style?
- Mini self-assessment and short definitions – What’s Your Style? Pt 2
- Detailed definitions and applications – What’s Your Style? Pt 3
- What the mismatch of styles looks like – What’s Your Style? Pt 4
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.
Photo by author.