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Why Faking Leadership Is Doomed to Fail

Why Faking Leadership Is Doomed to Fail

Being an authentic leader requires self-reflection, an understanding of the expectations of your subordinates, and a firm grasp of your context. Different leadership styles can be effective in particular circumstances. For example, a drill instructor is expected to intimidate his or her recruits through an aggressive leadership style. If a schoolteacher used the same methods, he or she would be out of a job.

Part of the challenge of leading from a place of authenticity is understanding which approach is best for a given situation.[1] If you've ever witnessed a manager offer a tone-deaf response, you know that a leader's style can have major impacts on company culture.

There are many ways to classify leaders, but Daniel Goleman's [2] designations provide a valuable framework for our purposes.[3] You may see yourself in one or more of these styles.

Here are the 6 types of leadership styles.

Pacesetting leader

This type sets a rigorous standard for others to follow. Pacesetters work alongside their team with the intention of executing a specific objective. They have no tolerance for team members lagging behind.

Pacesetting leaders excel in the military. In this case, the team's ability to perform as a unit affects the success and safety of the mission. Ambitious entrepreneurs and high-level leadership also have this level of urgency and insistence upon meeting high standards.

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When your team is adequately prepared and you need something done quickly, this approach is most effective. This style is more concerned with forward motion than heaping on praise, which means that team members will need to be confident in their duties. Continual use of the pace-setting leader model without including other approaches can cause employee burnout. Inexperienced team members may become frustrated by limited opportunities to receive positive feedback.

Authoritative leader

Sometimes known as the visionary leader, this style is firmly grounded in a vision. Some of the most recognizable innovators, such as Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Oprah Winfrey[4] count themselves among the ranks of authoritative leaders.

This position is helpful if you are pioneering an approach. Your vision represents your values and those of your company. In the face of uncertainty, you stayed grounded in your vision. This leadership style is not effective when your team members have more experience than you.

Affiliative leader

If you consider getting to know your employees to be an important part of your leadership style, then you likely possess the qualities of an affiliative leader. This style necessitates compassion and good listening skills. These leaders see workers as people first.

If your organization has experienced an upheaval, this caring approach can put your culture back on track. The manager that has regular one-on-one meetings with staff members and takes the time to listen to their concerns embodies this style. This approach breeds loyalty because it provides encouragement and makes employees feel understood.

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If your style is too soft, you risk breeding apathy. To prevent slacking performance, you will need incorporate other leadership styles to help you demonstrate the importance of high-quality work outputs.

Coaching leader

Even though coaching requires a greater time commitment for leaders up front, the rewards are a major return on investment. Coaching creates a positive work environment in which people use feedback and support to improve their performance.

Employees and leaders who approach their work with a growth mindset[5] are more likely to feel affirmed and buy into the organizational mission. This collaborative approach does not work well if you need results in a hurry, and it is not effective if workers are unwilling to engage.

Coercive leader

The coercive leader, like a drill instructor, does not leave room for debate — they simply want their workers to follow instructions as quickly and effectively as possible. Using this approach for extended periods of time will have a negative impact on morale.

Despite the potential for negative impact, there is an appropriate context for this leadership style. During an organizational crisis or emergency, workers need a leader who can act decisively. Employees who refuse to respond to collaborative approaches may fare better with a commanding leader.

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Democratic leader

When you solicit the buy-in of others, you empower them through democratic leadership.[6] Leading through votes or by committee can foster a positive work environment because workers feel that their concerns are taken into consideration.

This style can avoid the conflict among groups in which people wish to voice their opinions, but there are contexts in which this style will not be effective. A committee full of aggressive communicators might spend more time arguing than fulfilling their duties. If employees lack access to all the information necessary to make an informed decision, then this approach is unlikely to yield the best results. For projects that require a quick turnaround, you will need to exercise a more authoritative style.

A strong leader can always apply the right leadership style depends on situations.

A strong leader will need to be able to embody different leadership styles depending on their circumstances. Consulting this flowchart can help you understand which styles you identify with most and which aspects of your personal brand of leadership will require refinement.

With so many considerations for how one can lead, finding your authentic voice as a leader can seem overwhelming.[7] So here's what you can do.

Call in the SWOT team to help you lead best.

SWOT analysis can help you understand the best leadership style for you. SWOT, an acronym for "strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats," [8] helps you understand your gifts and mitigate deficiencies. Knowing which leadership styles work best for you gives you a greater capacity to inspire workers and respond to challenges in the workplace.

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  • S – Strengths: What are the things that you can do better than anyone else? What are your greatest accomplishments? Based upon these strengths, you can narrow down the types of leadership that resonate with you the most. For example, if you are a patient, asset-based thinker, then you may find that you are most comfortable as a coaching leader.
  • W -Weaknesses: Are there certain types of interactions that you seem to flub every time? Do you have tasks that you avoid because you don't think that you do them well? In the context of finding your leadership style, this can help you understand the types of leadership that do not resonate with you. If you hate telling people what to do without providing lots of feedback, then a coercive style is going to be uncomfortable for you.
  • O – Opportunities: After you have a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, look for opportunities. Where are the places that you can use your strengths? Which leadership styles exploit your best characteristics? What can you do to improve your weaknesses? Can you attend training or find a mentor to help you improve?
  • T – Threats: External threats can impose limits on your leadership. Threats include prohibitive policies that prevent you from expressing your best leadership talents. Does the hyper-competitive environment prevent you from using coaching, affiliative, or democratic leadership techniques, which require greater time investments? Comparing the threats you face to the strengths and limitations of the leadership styles can help you find the strategy that maximizes your strengths in your environment.

Amplify your strengths, always.

After you perform a SWOT analysis, you'll have a good idea of your individual gifts, and you'll be more cognizant of your weaknesses as a leader. Knowing your weaknesses can help you avoid leadership styles that make you come off as disingenuous.

Mind your mentors.

Picture a person who epitomizes strong leadership style for you. Analyze their style using the SWOT model, and pinpoint what types of leadership they most closely represent. Acting as an observer can help you understand your own values as leaders.

And know thyself.

To be an authentic leader, you have to be yourself. Leslie Stein eloquently illustrates the gains that come from owning your truth.

If you try to adopt a style that doesn't fit your personality, it will be difficult to function in a leadership capacity. Workers can always spot a phony, and if they know that you don't believe in the way that you are leading, they will be less likely to respect you. Your authentic self is your greatest leadership asset.

As a leader, you will be faced with situations that require you to adopt specific approaches. With some self-study and a strong vision for your team, you can be yourself and take charge.

Reference

More by this author

Angelina Phebus

Writer, Yoga Instructor (RYT 200)

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Last Updated on June 29, 2020

How Does Setting Goals Lead to Success?

How Does Setting Goals Lead to Success?

As well as being the founder of Lifehack, I also help people on a one-to-one basis through life coaching.

I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years now and have helped hundreds of clients reevaluate their lives and turn inertia into progress and failure into success.

A common theme I’ve noticed with many of my clients is that they don’t have any definite goals to aim towards.

This has always surprised me, as goal setting is frequently recommended by self-improvement gurus, performance coaches, and business leaders. It’s also something that I learned at university and have implemented successfully in my life ever since.

If you’re similar to the majority of my life coaching clients and you don’t have any definite goals to aim for, then you’re missing out on what is probably the most powerful personal success technique on the planet.

The good news is—you’ve come to the right place for help with this.

In this article, I’ll explain exactly what goal-setting is and how you can put it into action in your life. As you’ll discover, it’s a key that can open many doors for you.

An Introduction to Goal Setting

Goals can be big, small, short-term, long-term, essential, or desirable. But they all share one thing: They will give you something to aim for.

This is important. As just like a ship without a destination, if you have no goals, you’ll end drifting aimlessly.

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Goals give you purpose. They also give you drive and enthusiasm. In other words—they make you feel alive!

If you’ve never spent time setting goals before, then here’s what I recommend you to do:

  1. Take some time to evaluate all areas of your life (health, career, family, etc.).
  2. Determine which of these areas need a boost.
  3. Think of ways in which to achieve this (for example, if you want to boost your health, you could eat less and exercise more).
  4. Set some definite goals that you would like to achieve.
  5. Write down these goals, including the date you want to accomplish them by.

Now, before you get started on the above, I want to make one thing clear: Goals are not wishful thinking!

By this, I mean that while your goals should be ambitious, they shouldn’t be unrealistic or verging into fantasy land.

For example, wanting to be promoted at work would be a realistic goal while wanting to be President of the United States might not be. (Of course, feel free to prove me wrong!)

If you’re new to the world of goal setting, then I’d recommend you start with easy-to-achieve goals. These could be things such as eating a healthy breakfast, walking more, taking regular breaks from your screen, and sleeping early.

These simple goals might take you a month or so to achieve, including making the daily practices a habit.

Once you’ve successfully accomplished these goals, you’ll find your self-confidence grows, and you’ll be ready to set yourself some bigger goals.

Here are a few examples that you might want to choose or adapt to your personal circumstances:

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  • Run a marathon
  • Buy a new car
  • Learn a new language
  • Travel around the world
  • Change career
  • Retire early
  • Write a book

I’m sure you can think of many more things that you would like to achieve. As the famous Shakespeare line neatly states: “The world is your oyster!”

Now, the trick with big goals (as I’ll show in an example shortly) is to break them down into small, bite-sized chunks. This means you’ll have a big end goal, with smaller goals (sometimes referred to as objectives) helping you to gradually achieve your main aim.

When you do this, you’ll make big goals more achievable. Plus, you’ll have an easy way to track how far along the road to your goal you are at any given point in time.

Let’s see this in action…

Going from an Idea to a Global Success

Everything starts with an idea.

And there appears to be no shortage of good ideas in the world. But there is a shortage of people willing to put these ideas into action!

This is the essential step that will move you from being a dreamer to an achiever.

Back in 2005, when I first had the idea for Lifehack, I really only considered it to be a platform to record some of my productivity and self-improvement techniques. I’d developed these during my time at university and as a Software Engineer at Redhat.

However, based on the number of views and positive feedback I received on the first few articles, I quickly realized that Lifehack had the potential to be a popular and successful website—a site that could help transform the lives of people from all across the world.

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It was at that point that I decided to set some goals in place for Lifehack.

The way I did this was to set specific targets for different areas of the business:

  1. Number of articles published
  2. Amount of time spent writing and promoting the articles
  3. Number of new readers
  4. Number of new email subscribers
  5. Revenue generated from ads

For each of the above, I set weekly, monthly, and yearly targets. These targets were realistic but were also ambitious. In addition, I wrote down the necessary steps to take to achieve each target within the specified time frame.

This goal setting had a powerful impact on my motivation and energy levels. Because I could clearly see what needed to be done to achieve each goal, I found a purpose to my tasks that made them exciting to complete. Each small target achieved took me closer to accomplishing the bigger goals.

For example, my initial goals for writing articles were for just five a week, which equated to 20 per month and just over 100 per year. However, as I dedicated more and more time to Lifehack, I found I was able to exceed my initial goals.

This led me to increase the numbers. Of course, there’s a limit to how many articles one person can write. So when the readership began to exponentially increase, I started to hire other writers to help me out with the site’s content.

From my initial goal of just over 100 articles per year, I’ve used goal setting to help Lifehack publish more than 35,000 articles to date. This is now the largest collection of original self-development articles in the world.

And in terms of readership—this has skyrocketed from a few dozen in 2005 to several million in 2020.

And of course, I have many new goals for Lifehack, including expanding our range of online courses.

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My original goal has always remained the same though: To change people’s lives for the better.

Goal Setting Can Transform Your Life

If you haven’t yet experienced the incredible power of goal setting, then now’s the time to get started.

Build a definite picture of what you want to accomplish, break it down into small, achievable steps, and then start taking action!

You’ll be able to change all areas of your life using this method, including boosting your health, improving your relationships, and transforming your career. You may also want to use goal setting to start a new hobby or plot a path to a prosperous and peaceful retirement.

So please don’t wait for success to drop in your lap (which it is highly unlikely to do). Instead, decide on exactly what you want, then make a plan to get it. This is the secret to lifelong success.

Legendary motivational speaker and author Paul J. Meyer said it well:

“Goal setting is the most important aspect of all improvement and personal development plans. It is the key to all fulfillment and achievement.”

Final Thoughts

Now, let me leave you with five questions that will help you think about your future:

  1. What would you like to be doing in 3, 5, and 7 years?
  2. What things make you happiest?
  3. How can you share your knowledge and experience?
  4. Who can help you achieve your goals?
  5. What would you like to be your legacy?

Take plenty of time to think about these questions. When the answers come, you’ll be able to start building a picture of how you’d like your life to be—and what goals you need to set to make this picture a reality.

More Tips on Setting Goals

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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