Students of leadership have differing opinions about the efficacy of changing leadership styles. One group believes that a leading style is innate while others believe a personal leadership style develops through the influence of many outside factors. Regardless of which viewpoint you adhere to, the fact is sometimes a leader and his followers do not sync. In these cases, the small business leader should change course and adjust his style to meet the current group's needs.
Identify the Leadership Style
Before you can attempt to change a leading style you need to correctly diagnose the current one. You can do this by administering a DISC -- dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance -- personality profile or use the system the small business prefers. Other ways to identify leadership style is to observe and note the leader's methods. If the leader prefers working hands-on or uses vision-casting, he is an authoritative type leader. Democratic leaders polls the group frequently and focuses on team efforts. The laissez-faire prefers to lead from a distance, depending on a team of self-motivated workers.
Assess the Team's Needs
Customizing a leader's style without observing the team is an exercise in futility. Observe the team and assess their performance abilities noting important areas like self-motivation and understanding of duties. You need to determine if the team is goal or vision-driven. Ask the employees questions about their skill levels and confirm those by administering performance evaluations or tests. It's acceptable to query the group on leadership preference but do not make style decisions based on opinions only. The group's dynamics may not be apparent to individual members of the team.
Adjust the Style
Adjusting a leader's style requires focus and practice. Some natural attributes like a tendency to question process methods and/or seek affirmation from followers takes time to alter significantly. Provide the leader with leadership books that teach the preferred method or software that gives tips for leading in difficult situations. Encourage an authoritative leader to depend on his team by decreasing the normal number of status reports. Nudge a laissez faire leader to take the initiative by leading him directly through the new protocols. Set up leadership benchmarks and protocols to measure the leader-team success.
Revisit and Reassess
An overnight fix to an important leadership issue like changing styles is unlikely. Ideally, a human resources representative or manager monitors the progress through a series of observations making recommendations for more or less change. Prepare to reassess the original problem and examine the current status every week or month, depending on the seriousness of the problem. In some cases, the leader could fail to make the necessary changes, which leads to management intervention
As a former senior sales director with Mary Kay and the co-owner of a renovation company, Monica Patrick has firsthand knowledge of small business operations. Besides start ups, she has extensive skills in recruiting, selling, leadership, makeup artistry and skin care.