Adapting A Leadership Style That Works For You – And Your Employees

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Thinking about the progression of my career, I recall the different types of leaders I reported to and which leadership styles were most impactful at each stage of my career. I believed that studying their styles would help me grow to the point that I could be successful in a leadership role – because I was mindful of the effects of each leadership style. Once I became a leader, I compiled the things I admired most from the leaders I’ve observed to develop a style that encompassed authoritative, participative and reverse leadership.

Authoritative Leadershipadaptingleaderstyle

Authoritative leadership was essential for gaining momentum in my career development. Although the sound of “authority” might not seem positive, it may be exactly what some of your employees need. For example, interns, entry-level employees or employees transitioning into a new role will rely on this leadership style for learning and gaining confidence in their ability. An authoritative leader sets clear expectations and employees know where they stand in terms of their contribution to the organization. This style can lead employees to the point where they feel willing and ready to take ownership over pieces of a project and eventually take responsibility for what you’ve assigned them. This approach creates a supportive presence and an understanding that you’re available at all times to guide your employees through the process.

Participative Leadership

Participative leadership is the foundation for a collaborative team and innovative company culture. Rather than having meetings to inform your team about a plan of action that is set in stone, take the time to get everyone involved. Creating a round-table atmosphere allows all team members, from interns to directors, to provide input in your discussions – and ultimately contribute to the decisions made. Fresh perspectives might surprise you, and they’ll help you ensure you’re making the most informed choices. More importantly, keeping everyone in the loop and inviting open discussion can unite your employees in an impressive way. Since incorporating this into my own leadership practices, I’ve seen the sense of accountability and team morale soar, which has made our work more proactive and results-oriented.

Reverse Leadership

Although your role is to lead the team, all leaders should remain humble and remember that other team members can offer new ideas too. It’s impossible to have your eyes and ears everywhere so the insight of your team can help you find opportunities that you may not have come across. Make sure you’re receptive to your team’s ideas and encourage them to have their own initiatives. In doing this, your team will be inspired to get involved beyond their day-to-day job function and continually seek learning opportunities they can be proud to bring back to the team. Reverse leadership creates an openness that will change the culture of your organization. You’ll notice an increase in employee engagement and will be able to attract more talented individuals to join your company. In my own experience empowering employees, we’ve been able to improve our services and create new offerings that benefit our clients.

To be effective, a leader has to be able to adapt to satisfy what employees need as a whole and as individuals. The levels of your employees’ passion and productivity will differ depending on your leadership style with that individual. Fulfill your employees’ needs for guidance to shine a light on their potential. Encouraging openness among the team will ensure renewed perspectives are integrated into your organization, which will be the driving force behind your competitive edge.

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Kim Pope

Vice President of Sales & Marketing at WilsonHCG
As the Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Kim leads and coordinates WilsonHCG’s sales and marketing functions. She is responsible for driving the strategy behind building the company’s brand awareness and designing solutions for potential and current clients. With extensive experience in talent acquisition and recruitment process outsourcing, Kim brings innovation to WilsonHCG. She collaborates with executive leadership to develop company strategy and implement methods for operational and process excellence. She has also been instrumental in building the framework for WilsonHCG’s global partnerships
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    gingerconsult You’re welcome! Thanks for the RT.

  • January 13, 2014


    Hey Kim,

    Another really important aspect of ‘authoritative leadership’ is that leaders are ‘authorities’ on the business or aspect of the business that they lead. This is often overlooked in advancing new managers. Although leadership sees great potential in someone that is advancing, reports are very mindful of competence and subject matter ‘authority’ – and lacking it, or inability to demonstrate it – can lead to devastating results.

  • January 13, 2014


    Kim, Very nice!
    I found myself nodding as I read your post. Too many people, especially starting today, seem to lean one way or another- from total dictatorship to a squishy mealy-mouth afraid to stand for the purpose and intention (vision?) of the company or business. Authority is so very important and I believe that it must be there, no matter how you progress.. it is an absolute for our own Trainees, where not only their own safety is paramount, but the safety and lives  of everyone that surrounds them. As they grow (learn) and take on more responsibility, the round table not only solidifies their input to the whole, but allows them to interact on an equal basis, as you say, from the trainees to the expert professionals of the field they are working towards. Thank you for a great insight.

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    marksalkeYou are so very, to use your word, devastatingly, correct, Mark. In our business, and maybe in any business, our trainees and young professionals, by their acceptance of their “Professional” license, are sometimes in our industry, our greatest threat. What we do as Professionals represents not only our industry and our personal business, but our State in our actions.

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    I have found that Reverse Leadership is most cases is key to achieving goals at large.  Appreciative of your post, Kim.  Looking forward to more.

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