Leadership Styles in Three Different Organisations
For the purpose of this blog, we’ll be comparing the Leadership styles used in three different types of organisations with differing structures:
- The Defence Force/Military and Emergency Services
- Large businesses
- Small Medium Enterprises (SME)
In the Defence Force there is a clear hierarchy which is integral to its operations. Good Leadership in that environment sees their Leaders setting a clear tone, holding the weight of decisions, and sending clear messages to their teams.
Comparatively, in a large corporate setting, good Leaders will be collaborators who know how to engage their team and understand team dynamics.
When looking at SMEs they tend to be more family orientated, meaning their Leadership styles will look different too. Good Leadership in this setting will focus on strong relationships, friendships and partnerships, differing from traditional Leadership dynamics.
The actions and activities within these different organisations, is what shapes the Leadership required for optimal operation.
In the Defence Force and/or Emergency Services, the team is looking to the Leader to be very strong, very clear and to make quick decisions. This style of Leadership does not see a lot of involvement from their team, due to the nature of the environment they’re in with a hierarchy present.
Teams in large corporate environments expect to be heard more, contributions considered, and their needs accommodated to. Their style of work thrives on collaboration and Leaders must cater to this.
In SMEs, generally, Leaders are surrounded by people they know well such as family or friends. In this environment a Leader’s style is more considerate of these relationships, as there’s more personal consequence if they fail.
Fundamentals of Good Leadership
Despite the requirement for different Leadership styles across organisations, there are still some fundamentals of Good Leadership which all Leaders should embody.
Leaders must have a great level of self-awareness. This includes awareness of Leadership style and how that fits with the workplace environment.
All Leaders should be able to read cues that tell them what the team want and what they need from their Leader.
These elements need to be present in Leaders regardless of organisation or field.
However, the way they’re utilised will be different in these respective organisations and fields.
For example, in the Defence Force/Emergency Services a team still expects to be heard but knows that they can only convey their thoughts and opinions at certain times, not in high pressure situations. Therefore, the Leader still needs to practice their emotional intelligence, but they understand their team will only give them certain cues when the environment is appropriate to do so.
Inspiration is also carried by all Good Leaders but will differ in style again. In a corporate environment Leaders can inspire their team through strong vision, clear purpose and alignment of values. While in the Defence Force a more optimistic style of inspiration is used which is promoted with high energy from the Leader.
Levels of Good Leadership
Now that we’ve established that Leadership will look different in every organisation, we must acknowledge that Good Leaders in each level of an organisation will look different too.
These are Leaders who are working with their team on a day-to-day basis. Their Leadership requires a balance between technical hard skills and soft skills (communication). They need more creditability at a technical level than a CEO does, while working closely to meet individual needs. This means they need to know their team well and their needs in detail.
Their technical skills are still needed but they can get away with having less technical skill than the front-line Leaders below them. They should know the general needs of the teams but what’s more fundamental is knowing their needs of their Front-line Leaders.
Senior Leader/CEO/Managing Director:
The style of Leaders in these positions becomes more inspirational and influential. They may not know much about individuals needs but they understand what the organisational, cultural and team needs are.
To summarise, when trying to identify what a Good Leader looks like in your organisation, you must consider three key factors:
- How well adapted are they to the environment they Lead in
- fundamental qualities of a good Leader
- Are they fulfilling the unique elements of Leadership required at their level of seniority
It’s only once these elements are assessed together that an assertion can be made to whether a Leader is Good and what a Good Leader in your organisation looks like.