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Finding Your Leadership Style

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You’re on the rise. You’ve got the skills, the drive, and the ambition to make your mark, but the path to leadership isn’t always straightforward.

The world is facing complex challenges, and a new breed of leader is emerging: the social impact leader. These leaders are driven not just by profit, but by a desire to create positive change in their workplaces, communities, and the world. They leverage their business acumen and aim to leave a lasting positive impact. It’s someone who can be adaptable, inspiring, and comfortable navigating uncertainty. But with all this pressure, you might be wondering – what kind of leader am I?

Forget the corner office and barking orders. Let’s unpack the core traits that define effective leadership so you can feel empowered, inspired and motivated to thrive in the modern workforce.

Step 1: Self-Awareness is Key

The first step is understanding yourself, including your strengths and weaknesses. Are you a natural decision-maker, or do you prefer a more collaborative approach? Do you excel at motivating others, or do you find strategic planning more energizing?

There are many leadership style assessments available online, but a good starting point is self-reflection. Here are some questions to consider:

  • When am I at my best, or at my worst?
  • Do I draw energy from being around others, or do they drain me?
  • What kind of work environment do I thrive in?
  • How do I typically handle conflict?
  • How do I like to receive feedback?

Step 2: Leadership Archetypes: A Starting Point

There are a variety of leadership styles that thrive in today’s workplace, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. In fact, many leaders don’t identify with just one of these styles, but pull from, two, three, or more of these categories. Think about it like cooking – you wouldn’t use the same recipe for every dish! The most successful leaders are flexible and adapt their style to each unique situation and team.

  • Transformational Leader: The visionary who inspires and motivates teams to achieve extraordinary things. They ignite a passion for a shared purpose and empower individuals to stretch their capabilities. Think: charismatic leader who brings a clear vision of the future.
  • Servant Leader: This leader prioritizes the needs of their team, fostering a supportive and collaborative environment. They focus on growth and development of their people, creating a space where everyone feels valued and empowered with constructive feedback and continuous learning.
  • Democratic Leader: This leader values collaboration and consensus building. They involve their team in decision-making processes, fostering a sense of ownership and accountability.
  • Agile Leader: Adaptability is key in today’s fast-paced world. This leader embraces change, thrives in uncertainty, and readily adjusts strategies as needed. They are quick to learn and experiment, encouraging innovation within the team.

Step 3: Make it Human

Today’s workforce craves authenticity, connection, and a leader who understands their humanity. Whether you’re leading a non-profit, a for-profit, or a department within a larger organization, people want to be treated with respect and dignity. These social impact leadership principals are key to creating an environment of understanding, innovation, and collaboration:

  • Strong Vision and Mission: Social impact leaders have a clear vision for a better future and a compelling mission to guide their team.
  • Empathy and Social Responsibility: They understand the needs of others, the impact their business has on the community, and are committed to making a positive difference.
  • Collaboration and Relationship Building: Building strong relationships with diverse stakeholders is essential for creating impactful solutions.
  • Innovation and Problem-Solving: Social impact leaders are creative and resourceful, tackling complex challenges with fresh perspectives.

Step 4: Never Stop Learning

Leadership is a journey, not a destination. As you gain experience, reflect on what works and what doesn’t. Seek feedback from your team and mentors, and be open to adjusting your approach.

Here are some resources to keep you on your leadership development path:

Ready to deepen your social impact leadership skills? Learn more about our community leadership cohorts.