This article unveils the four types of leaders defined by the Berkeley Leadership Matrix and offers insights into how to identify the style that suits your personality.
In the dynamic world of business and team management, understanding your leadership style can be your key to success.
Be prepared to embark on a self-discovery journey that could transform your leadership approach, by understanding the matrix of leadership.
The silent leader: embracing introverted leadership
Silent leaders are the unsung heroes of the corporate world. Their strength lies in their deep thought process and ability to make significant contributions behind the scenes. Silent leaders, like the former CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop, prefer to steer their team subtly, employing a minimalistic approach to verbal communication.
However, the key challenge for silent leaders is ensuring they don’t come across as aloof or absent. Their silence, while a potent tool for introspection, can be misinterpreted as a lack of engagement or interest in the team. Thus, silent leaders need to find unique ways to connect with their teams, such as one-on-one check-ins or written communications.
The questioning leader: cultivating an atmosphere of curiosity
The questioning leadership style is founded on intellectual curiosity. Leaders following this style, like former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, are known for their probing questions that inspire innovation and foster a learning culture. They believe in challenging the status quo and encouraging their team members to do the same.
However, questioning leaders must be careful not to come off as unsure or indecisive. While questions can ignite curiosity, too many questions with few answers may make team members feel directionless. Thus, questioning leaders need to balance their inquiries with clear guidance to ensure the team remains focused and goal-oriented.
The answering leader: offering vision and direction
Answering leaders are the traditional visionaries of an organisation. They have clear directions and answers for their teams, setting the path for everyone to follow. These leaders, such as the late Steve Jobs from Apple, are often charismatic, leading their teams towards ambitious goals with a clear, definitive vision. By the way, if you haven’t found the vision for your business, I recommend this vision statement template.
The challenge for answering leaders lies in avoiding the ‘know-it-all’ persona. While providing clear answers is vital, they must also ensure their teams have the room to express their creativity and contribute ideas. Hence, answering leaders need to maintain an open channel of communication, welcoming feedback and suggestions.
The conversational leader: encouraging dialogue and collaboration
Conversational leaders are the epitome of balanced communication. They adeptly juggle asking questions and providing answers, fostering an environment of open dialogue and collaboration. Leaders like Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel, exemplify this style by consistently encouraging strategic debates and discussions within their teams.
The danger for conversational leaders, however, is falling into the trap of being ‘all-talk, no action’. They must ensure that their conversations translate into actions and tangible results to maintain their teams’ respect and motivation.
Decoding your leadership style: a step-by-step guide
Understanding your leadership style is a process of self-reflection and feedback. Here’s a simple step-by-step process to help you identify your style:
Self-assessment: Begin by introspecting about your communication preferences. Do you prefer to work behind the scenes, ask questions, provide answers, or engage in conversations?
Feedback from Peers and Subordinates: Seek constructive feedback from your team members and peers about your leadership style. They can provide valuable insights into your communication habits and their impact.
Align with your Personality: Assess if your leadership style aligns with your overall personality. Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you enjoy debates and discussions or prefer to guide with clear directives?
Adapt and Learn: Once you identify your dominant leadership style, don’t hesitate to learn and adapt elements from the other styles. Great leaders are always evolving and learning new ways to guide their teams.
Leadership styles and organisational culture
It’s essential to remember that your leadership style can significantly influence your organisation’s culture. For instance, a questioning leader might foster a culture of curiosity and continuous learning, while an answering leader might promote a culture of clarity and goal orientation.
Hence, be mindful of the matrix of leadership and how your leadership style is shaping your team’s work environment. Ensure that it aligns with your organisation’s values and goals, creating a harmonious and productive workplace.
When managers adopt a different leadership style
Organisations often have a predominant leadership style, influenced by the top management and the organisational culture. However, individual managers within the organisation may have their unique leadership style, different from the prevalent one.
Having a different leadership style isn’t inherently problematic. In fact, it can bring in diversity of thought and approach, fostering innovation and adaptability. For instance, a questioning manager in an organisation led predominantly by answering leaders can add an element of curiosity and exploration, potentially leading to new ideas and solutions.
However, this contrast can also cause friction and confusion. If a manager’s leadership style clashes significantly with the organisation’s culture, it can lead to misunderstandings and misalignment. Employees may struggle to reconcile the contrasting expectations, leading to stress and reduced productivity.
Effects on employee engagement and productivity
The leadership style of a manager significantly influences employee engagement and productivity. A leader who maintains open communication, encourages curiosity, and provides clear direction can boost employee engagement, leading to increased productivity.
Conversely, leadership styles that don’t resonate with the team can lead to disengagement. For instance, if a team thrives on collaboration and open dialogue, a silent leadership style may not engage them effectively, possibly leading to decreased productivity.
Implications for employee turnover and morale
Leadership styles also impact employee turnover rates and morale. A supportive and engaging leadership style can boost employee morale, leading to increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover. On the other hand, a leadership style that doesn’t match the employees’ expectations can result in low morale, potentially leading to higher turnover rates.
For example, an answering manager leading a team that values autonomy and exploration may see high turnover rates as employees may feel their ideas and contributions are not valued.
Influence on teamwork
A manager’s leadership style also shapes the team’s dynamics. A questioning or conversational leader is likely to foster a culture of collaboration, promoting teamwork. On the other hand, an answering leader may create a more hierarchical team structure, which may or may not favour collaborative teamwork, depending on the team’s nature.
It’s important to note that none of these leadership styles are inherently ‘bad’ or ‘good’. Their effectiveness depends on the team’s composition, the tasks at hand, and the broader organisational culture.
Finding the sweet spot: aligning individual and organisational leadership styles
While it’s beneficial for managers to stay true to their leadership style, they also need to align with the broader organisational culture to prevent friction and confusion. Here are a few strategies for managers to find this balance:
Understand the Organisational Culture: Gain a deep understanding of the organisational culture and leadership style. What values are prized? What leadership behaviours are encouraged?
Self-Reflect and Seek Feedback: Identify your unique leadership style. Seek feedback from your team members and peers to understand how your style influences them.
Find Common Ground: Look for overlaps between your style and the organisational culture. Leverage these commonalities to create a cohesive leadership approach.
Get Team Feedback and Adapt: Be open to adapting aspects of your leadership style to better fit the organisational culture. Learning and growth are integral parts of being an effective leader.
Educate Your Team: If your leadership style differs significantly from the organisational norm, educate your team about your approach. Clear communication can help prevent misunderstandings and set clear expectations.
Leveraging peer recognition, surveys, and reports in identifying leadership style
Leadership style isn’t merely a theoretical concept; it’s a practical tool that influences real-life outcomes in the workplace. Therefore, it’s crucial to have tangible, reliable methods to identify one’s leadership style. Peer recognition, surveys, and reports can play an invaluable role in this process.
Peer recognition is a powerful tool in identifying leadership styles. The way team members recognise and appreciate a leader can shed light on the leader’s dominant style.
For example, if a leader is often praised for their thought-provoking questions that stimulate innovation, they might lean towards a questioning leadership style. On the other hand, consistent recognition for clear direction and decision-making might indicate an answering leadership style.
Surveys offer an effective way to gather feedback about one’s leadership style. By asking team members specific questions about the leader’s communication style, decision-making approach, and problem-solving strategies, you can gain insights into their leadership style.
Leadership style surveys should be anonymous to ensure honest feedback. The questions should be designed to capture the nuances of the leader’s approach, aligned with the dimensions of the Berkeley Leadership Matrix.
We at RecurPost wanted to rank one of the listicles on hootsuite alternatives higher. We were trying hard, but it was not budging. We then decided to conduct a survey across our marketing team and found out that two teams were competing against each other for the same keyword for two different pages resulting in none of them getting better due to keyword cannibalisation.
Reports, especially those about team performance and employee engagement, can also provide clues about a leader’s style. High engagement and productivity levels might suggest a leadership style that resonates well with the team.
For example, if a team consistently meets its targets and shows high levels of satisfaction, the leader might be employing an effective answering or conversational style. On the other hand, high innovation metrics might suggest a questioning leadership style that encourages curiosity and exploration.
360-degree feedback involves gathering feedback from a leader’s superiors, peers, and subordinates. This comprehensive feedback can provide a well-rounded view of the leader’s style. Like surveys, 360-degree feedback should be anonymous and designed to capture the leader’s approach along the dimensions of the Berkeley Leadership Matrix.
Leadership isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. The matrix of leadership and four types of leaders – silent, questioning, answering, and conversational – offer distinct perspectives on how one can guide their teams effectively.
By understanding these styles and identifying your own, you can enhance your leadership skills, creating a thriving team and a successful organisation. So, embark on this journey of self-discovery and unlock your true potential as a leader.
About the Author
Debbie Moran is a Digital marketing strategist with 5+ years of experience producing advertising for brands and helping leaders showcase their brand to the correct audience. She has been a part of RecurPost, the complete social media scheduler, since 2019 and handles all the activities required to grow our brand’s online presence.