When it comes to leadership styles, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. The most effective leaders are those who are able to adapt their style to the specific needs of their team. However, there are four main leadership styles that are commonly used in the workplace:
- Autocratic – Absolute power
- Democratic – Supporting democracy or similar principles
- Laissez-faire – Less interference, letting things take course
- Transformational – Creating individual and social system change
There are a ton of articles that outline the differences between them — each having their own pros and cons. However, regardless of the “type” of leader you are, in today’s world, it’s imperative to be a thoughtful leader above all else.
What Is a Thoughtful Leader?
Thoughtful leaders are not only willing to learn and grow themselves but are also connected to something bigger. In short, a thoughtful leader can take a step back and put themselves in their employees’ shoes when viewing certain scenarios.
Every situation and every individual usually requires a different style of leadership or guidance to either resolve the issue, or provide the necessary insight to guide the employee to understand and blossom.
Try to Relate
When you put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you can understand more about their experiences and how they problem-solve. Their decisions may come across completely ludicrous — but deep down — they may have a completely logical reason for developing a certain judgment.
To assist your employees, you must first be able to truly understand them, to do that, you must truly understand yourself. That includes understanding your strengths and weaknesses.
Nature Can Teach Us Anything We Need to Know
I recently helped my daughter grow butterflies. We purchased six larvae and watched them grow their cocoons. Once they hatched, it was time to release them. We had six butterflies in a netted cage, and when the time was right, we opened the top and let them all out.
- Butterflies 1, 2, and 3 flew out immediately, never to be seen again. It was off without a single worry, and never looked back. These butterflies were like extremely independent, confident employees who needed no guidance to flourish.
- Butterfly 4 flew out and landed on a tree leaf, where it stayed for a long period. This is like the employee who just needs to gain confidence before attempting anything.
- Butterfly 5 flew out, landed on my daughter’s shirt, and stayed there for a long time. Butterfly 5 is like an employee who needs a little extra hand-holding. It required one-on-one attention from someone before being willing to take off on its own.
- Butterfly 6 would not leave the cage. It had to be coaxed out — and then it stayed right where it sat for a while. It was extremely scared and nervous, and we eventually placed it on a flower before finally flying off. Butterfly 6 might not have made it.
Each of the butterflies had the same opportunities as the others, yet each one had a different approach on how it would leave the cage. Your employees and those who look up to you are the same. If you see them all flourish — you have to be willing to meet them where they are.
Recognizing When Someone Isn’t a Fit
It’s also important for a leader, especially a thoughtful leader, to recognize that not everyone may be a fit. Just like Butterfly 6, you may find yourself unable to provide someone with the tools necessary to succeed. They are either in the wrong role or don’t have the proper mindset to do what’s needed.
Five Things You Can Do Today
Based on this article, I want to leave you with five things you can do today to become a more thoughtful leader.
- Be Empathetic as much as possible. You cannot understand if you cannot feel empathy for your employees and colleagues.
- Practice more introspection. It will be impossible to be a thoughtful leader if you aren’t first aware of your limitations.
- Become more perceptive. Sometimes, noticing something before it is brought to your attention can make all the difference in how you are perceived.
- Stand up for yourself but also for others. Nothing is more powerful than an employee or team member knowing their leader has their back.
- Learn your team’s learning styles. To make an impact, you must first understand who you are working with and how you can deliver that impact to them.
Working in Operations or with human capital is a huge responsibility. Payroll, benefits, and other employee expenses are most likely the highest bill you have in your organization. Doesn’t that mean it should require a little bit more of your attention and finesse to help groom the future? I think you can handle it.
Last modified: June 28, 2022