Design your leadership style

By Melissa Rosenthal

Published on 16-02-2013


There's no 'silver bullet' when it comes to designing your leadership style. Put simply, good leadership is tough.

Melissa Rosenthal, a Director at South View Consulting offers a few tips to consider when assessing your own leadership style and your team's leadership capability...

It's no secret that organisations across many industries are facing cost pressures. In these increasingly turbulent economic times, restructuring has become a common response to this pressure. Whilst driven by a cost imperative, restructuring can often provide an opportunity to improve your team's capability and culture. And this opportunity will be won or lost on the strength of your leadership style.

When thinking about your leadership style and your team's leadership capability, it's important to consider the following:

How well do you know yourself?

Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses in the context of your team is a valuable starting point. There are techniques available that can be used individually or in combination, including 360 degree feedback, personality testing (e.g. Myers-Briggs) and executive coaching.

Design your team's leadership capability

Good teams often have, by design, a range of leadership styles in order to cultivate flexibility and responsiveness. This may include balancing personality types and management styles and considering diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity and education.

I recall a successful team I worked with recently where each individual clearly played a different leadership role in their interactions with other internal stakeholders. There was the "strategic partner" whose expertise created demand as a virtual consultant to other business areas. There was the "bulldog" who was sent in to negotiate difficult decisions. And there was the "trusted friend" whose exceptional relationship skills formed the basis of her influence within the organisation.

Differentiate between proficiency and leadership

Don't assume that an outstanding performer will automatically make the transition to becoming an exceptional leader. It's important to make sure that new leaders are provided with individual leadership training and support, based on their experience and the requirements of the role.

Distinguish between the good presenter and the good leader

Recent leadership research shows that there tends to be a 'halo effect' associated with strong presentation skills. That is, the leadership skills of good presenters tend to be over-valued by organisations. There's no doubt that presentation skills are an important component of leadership, but it is also important to remember that good leadership more often requires strength in one-to-one interactions.

Recognise that the introduction of a new team member changes the team

Even the most common change, like replacing a team member, can significantly alter the team dynamic, which inevitably impacts all members of that team. A good leader will acknowledge this change openly. Addressing change will ensure that the desired team culture is endorsed by everyone.

Melissa Rosenthal is a director at South View Consulting, a Melbourne-based executive coaching firm dedicated to improving business results through leadership and management development. Please send any comments or questions you have in relation to this article to: