Effective leaders draw out the best performance from their employees by understanding personality style and flexing to meet the needs of individual employees—who may or may not share the same personality style. Employees are motivated by different things: recognition, autonomy, close supervision, or social activities. A leader’s ability to first identify these differences and then quickly adapt to address individual needs can be the difference between leadership success and failure.
How does personality style relate to effective leadership?
Personality style is based on assertiveness and expressiveness. Assertiveness is the degree of effort someone makes to influence others. Expressiveness is the degree of effort people put forth when they reveal their emotions to others. When you combine assertiveness and expressiveness, four distinct and different personality styles emerge: Direct, Spirited, Considerate, and Systematic.
Hundreds of studies have tried to identify the primary source of effective leadership. Successful and well-rounded leaders generally exhibit four areas of focus, and who better than U.S. presidents to represent successful leaders?
Envisioning the Future = Direct
Leaders possessing this strength influence others by taking risks, and demanding action. Thomas Jefferson was a Direct leader who possessed a high level of assertiveness and low expressiveness. These leaders like to cut to the chase and tell other people “how it is.” Direct leaders possess an exceptional degree of confidence and they are not afraid to take risks to get big results. They excel at envisioning the future and lead by taking action, seeking out promising opportunities, and directing their attention toward the finish line.
Engage Others = Spirited
Spirited leaders have a talent to inspire and motivate others. They engage the people around them, generate excitement, and rally the troops to achieve a common goal. Spirited leaders like Franklin Delano Roosevelt are extremely enthusiastic and have a great ability to persuade others to see their point of view.
Encourage Others = Considerate
Abraham Lincoln was a Considerate leader whose style resulted from a combination of low assertiveness and high expressiveness. He was highly regarded for adding the best and the brightest to his staff and pulling together a team uniquely suited for dealing with the Civil War crisis. Considerate Leaders engage others and they excel at being supportive, active listeners.
Execute Results = Systematic
Leaders with this strength are detail-oriented and use informed decision-making to bring about high levels of performance. Much like George Washington, they are deliberate, accurate, and focused. While they may appear to be controlling, this is only a result of their meticulous nature.
Four effective presidents, yet four very different personality styles; how is this possible? Effective leaders know how to draw on their natural strengths—and they know how to flex their personality style to meet the needs of others.
Leadership is critical to the success or failure of a business. Understanding your own leadership style can be a critical first step to improving your abilities. What's My Leadership Style helps uncover the personality traits that define your leadership. Our leadership style assessment quickly and accurately identifies a preference for one of the four behavioral leadership styles. You never know when you’ll be called upon to lead, and our What's My Leadership Style can help you unlock your true leadership potential.