What’s Your Leadership Style and Why Do Employers Care?
September 3, 2019
If you’re at a job interview or in the running for a leadership position at an organization, you will probably be asked about what kind of leader you are, how you lead in failure, or about a time you led a team to success.
Questions about your leadership style come up for management or executive roles, but it’s not always the case. In today’s job market, we’re all expected to exhibit certain leadership qualities such as the ability to influence a team, client, partner, or decision.
In that sense, leadership isn’t a title, but a skill and function that can be honed and used in different situations.
So how do you address a question about your leadership style?
First, identify your leadership style
Find out what leadership style you naturally lean towards. Do you lead by example? Or maybe you lead by facilitating collaboration? Figure out what aligns with your natural disposition and interpersonal style.
Here are other styles you might consider: leading by initiating; leading by delegating; leading by setting a vision; leading by pacesetting; leading by planning and executing; or leading by empathy.
Avoid weak leadership styles
Some leadership styles are considered more effective than others, though this varies by culture and company. When talking about your leadership style, avoid styles that are transactional, autocratic, laissez-faire, or Darwinian in nature. Instead, focus on leadership styles are are democratic, strategic, inspirational, and communicative.
Show how you’ve led in past jobs
Once you’ve figured out your leadership style, highlight your style by giving 2-3 specific examples from your past jobs that show you’ve used your leadership skills to drive performance, productivity, and results. You can use the STAR method to structure your answer (click here for an explanation of STAR). Whatever you do, be compelling and show comfort with the idea of leading and influencing a team.
You can find a sample answer from one of TalkMeUp’s learning modules here (link to module).
Emphasize a mix of styles, if appropriate
Good leaders adapt their style according to a situation. Perhaps your leadership style is generally democratic, but in a time of tight deadlines or crisis, you’re a results-oriented leader focused on pushing for maximum team performance. It’s ok to say you have a mix of styles you draw from one situation to the next; often, it’s seen as a good sign of flexibility and social intelligence.