Business Owner Upskilling Part 1: Define Your Leadership Style


Business Owner Upskilling Part 1: Define Your Leadership Style

As a business owner, you’re also the visionary and leader for your business, and your leadership style sets the tone not only for the operations and management of your service or product, but for the quality of customer engagement, how your team interacts with one another, and how your brand is perceived in the public eye.

leadership style

Gone are the days when faceless companies ruled – today, customers want to know who they are buying from, and to connect with the story behind the brand. Humanising a business and sharing your leadership values and style is a key way that customers connect with you, as well as a way to differentiate yourself in the market.

It’s therefore essential to be able to articulate your values as a leader, a business owner and a “face” of your business.

So, how do you establish, enhance and continue to develop your own leadership skills?

Assessing your current leadership style

As we head into the end of 2022, leaders and business owners have had to grapple with managing teams in a hybrid world, and as such, dozens of new leadership styles and models are emerging. For now, let’s take a look at some of the core leadership styles, and it’s likely you’ll find one that resonates most with you:

Authoritarian leadership (also known as autocratic)

An authoritarian leader will make most decisions without consulting the wider team, so you’re likely someone who is experienced within your industry and wants to guide the trajectory of your business. It’s not the most modern of leadership styles, but it certainly can be beneficial to have authoritarian qualities if and when your business hits rough waters – what’s important to recognise is that without feeling heard and listened to, your team may suffer in their morale levels and motivation if they feel they have no input in the direction of the business.

Participative leadership (also known as democratic)

Most leaders would like to consider themselves participative, meaning that they take into consideration the opinion of their employees – they understand that the collective mind can have insights that the leader alone cannot glean. More and more, employees today want to work for a business where they feel they can make a difference, so will seek out leaders who encourage their opinions and ideas.

Delegative leadership (also known as ‘laissez-faire’)

Done in the right way, a delegative leader will empower employees with autonomy and the ability to get their work done to their schedule as long as the outcome is successful. Importantly, remote work has meant many leaders have had to come to terms with handing over more control to their employees – thankfully, with several years of remote working now completed, it’s clear that this hasn’t meant the bottom line for businesses has suffered.

Finding balance is key here, giving your employees flexibility as to where and when they work, but also encouraging times when colleagues come together to brainstorm, make important decisions and reconnect with one another.

Transactional leadership (also known as managerial)

If you’re a transactional leader, you’ll likely have rigid frameworks that your business runs by and be target and KPI driven. This can encourage high sales in the short term, but it’s a surefire way to see long term employee burnout and high attrition rates – in other words, control today can mean out of control tomorrow. Finding the best parts of transactional leadership and “cherry picking” them for your business is key – setting your team clear goals and the consequences of not meeting them keeps everyone on the same page, but know that productivity can also thrive within a middle-ground environment, offering some freedom and creativity to employees to try new things and accommodate to changes.

Transformational leadership (also known as visionary)

When we think of inspiring business figures like Richard Branson, the word ‘visionary’ is likely to come to mind. While not all business owners may consider themselves transformational leaders, it’s a quality that can and should be encouraged. A transformational leader will bring energy and excitement to their teams, and often pull great talent into their business even in the early days, as employees are keen to be involved with the visionary leader and learn from them.

What makes transformational leaders so potent is their ability to connect the employee to the brand, the business and the cause – companies like Google do this very well, offering unique perks and flexibility to their employees, and creating a sought-after workplace where colleagues feel like family, supported and encouraged in not only their roles but their other goals in life.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll look at how to know if your current business style is serving you, what your perceived leadership style offers your employees, and what changes you should consider in order to position your business to thrive.