While a new leader may have an innate sense of what it takes to run a company, there is always more that can be learned from the tried and tested leadership methods taught in business schools and used by successful leaders. Most leaders keep an eye out for great ideas that they can use to increase their effectiveness with their employees. A new leader must also understand the difference between leading - and just managing people. Peter Drucker has noted that leadership is about choosing and doing the right things.
In my own experience as a new leader, I sought out experienced leaders who I could study in terms of the specific types of leadership methods they used to shape their own success. Along the way, I have tried many leadership methods and combined those that worked well for me and my startups to generate a combination of various styles. Even since my first startup, I continue to refine the leadership methods I use as situations change and as I startup various types of companies.
If you are a new leader, consider these five leadership methods and styles that may work for your particular approach and experience:
- Charismatic: This leadership method is designed to influence others through personality and character, leveraging values and beliefs to incite others to action. It’s an ideal leadership method for a new leader who feels passionate about their business idea and who is a high energy individual determined to motivate others. The one aspect that is important to remember about the charismatic leadership method is that it can easily turn into being just about the leader and their presence so this type of person and leadership style has to be balanced to ensure the team knows they can have their own individual passions about what they are trying to achieve, and that they can contribute in their own way in their own team.
- Pacesetter: Although a new leader may at first feel uncomfortable in this role - because it involves creating models of excellence - it is ideal for a startup. Typically, the majority of the team is remote, yet motivated and skilled, so this is idea for this type of leadership method. The Pacesetter is based on significant self-direction where the leader pushes for quick results from the team. This leader can then set the pace in terms of what is desired from the team, or what must be accomplished by the team - which can be more at one time or less at another, depending on the stage of the startup’s development. The Pacesetter also knows when and how to pour on the steam and get the desired results in a desperate, or fix-it situation.
- Innovative: When a startup is intent on disrupting the marketplace and standing out within an industry, it helps to employ an innovative leadership method that focuses on doing things entirely different from expected. A leader who uses an innovative method can see the entire situation as a whole and determine how to do things differently, especially when traditional ways are not working. An alternative, or innovative way of thinking is a good way of showing the team that everyone is free to try new things and take some risks. As a startup, a new leader can encourage a culture of innovation and creativity early on to shape how the company focuses on their disruptive capabilities for the marketplace. The innovative leader brings out needed creativity.
- Situational: Combining a number of leadership behaviors, the situational leadership method includes directing, empowering, coaching, and being supportive to the team. Since a startup is still evolving, this leadership method is particular effective because it is helpful for situations that involve ongoing change. A new situational leader just has to be careful not to change too often, too fast or be too unpredictable about what the changes are to the organizations. When done properly, this leadership method reduces the sense of uncertainty among the new team. Since this team is often remote, they may already be feeling out of the loop with what’s happening with the company so this leadership style helps by having the new leader actively involved with the developmental change.
- Affiliative: The affiliative leadership method is a way to build bonds early on and a sense of belonging that can help propel a startup through its development. While this is a good method to use to bring a team together, this style should not be the leadership method that a leader continues to utilize forever, primarily because it is based solely on praise and nurturing. There will always be the need to build and encourage, but there has to be more dimensions to the leadership method used in order to provide direction and encourage higher performance levels.
These leadership methods can inspire new leaders by giving them a roadmap for how to approach their new position and shape their evolution as their startup grows and more talent comes on board. Starting with these behaviors early on can help new leaders create the leadership habits that get the most from the team and assist in showing a new leader about how to find the right balance for the talent, the stakeholders, and the company.