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Read more Paul McElvaney

Co-founder and CEO

Learning Pool

Improve workplace

performance with effective

leadership

'Styles of Leadership' feature a lot in

management textbooks. It can make for a fun

exercise or teaser to discover what kind of

leader you are. But is it just a question of styles

over substance? How can leadership truly

improve performance and engagement in the

workplace?

With many stages in between, styles of

leadership run the gamut from the 'autocratic',

where the leader takes the decisions alone, to

the 'laissez-faire', where decision-making is

devolved to the collective and leadership is

parcelled out. As a theoretical concept,

leadership styles can be brutally either/or. They

also tend to be descriptive, rather than a guide

to action.

The real challenge for potential leaders is not

so much how to identify themselves on a

leadership style chart, but to practice effective

leadership. Leadership is measured by the

performance and engagement of the people

being led.

What kind of leader am I?

The problem of identifying with a style of

leadership is that it suggests leaders come

ready-made, ready-programmed. That points

to an in-built inflexibility: you're either this or

that. But leadership styles can be mixed and

matched. Some are more effective than others

- both in general and also in specific

circumstances.

What's more, styles and approaches can be

learned. Leadership training can identify

strategies and approaches that work and are

more effective in some contexts than in others.

The challenge for leaders

Leadership is a role, not a badge. As a role it

needs to be defined and have a clear purpose.

You're only really leading if you are bringing

people together and engaging them.

The modern leader faces some key

challenges. In this more democratic and

individualistic environment, employees will not

follow blindly. They are concerned to play their

part, and have it formally recognised. If not,

they'll move on. One of the most important

indicators of effective leadership is how you

retain and develop talent.

The influence of technology

The influence of technology on the modern

workplace, particularly with the arrival of AI, has

been much debated.

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