7 Signs You Need to Change Your Leadership Style

change leadership style

Effective leaders come in many shapes and styles. But the kind of leadership style that helps someone advance in a career is not always the same style that he or she needs in a new role. Sometimes, it’s time to change leadership style.

There simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all leadership style that universally inspires, motivates, and directs people. So it’s really important to recognize when the time has come to make adjustments to how you lead others. Here are 7 signs you need to change your leadership style.

1. You’re out of touch with the people you lead.

Leadership requires information from and an understanding of the people you lead, no matter the styles you use. If you are finding yourself increasingly disconnected, in the dark, or perplexed by those you lead, it’s time to adapt your style.

2. The people you’re leading are frustrated (and so are you).

The limitations or familiarity of a leader’s style over time can lead to teams that stop working to improve or to resolve disputes, exasperating everyone. If the ways you’ve handled conflict and irritation as a leader aren’t overcoming those frustrations, it’s time to adapt your style.

3. You are served more than you serve.

Eventually, every successful leader will be tempted to get too comfortable in that success, and everything becomes more about the leader than the team. If you find your teammates helping you look good more than you help them, it’s time to adapt your style.

4. People are not following you.

Leaders who say “let’s go!” only to find that no one is getting up to go aren’t really effectively leading anymore. They may be leaders in title, but not in function. If fewer people are responding to your leadership the way you intend, it’s time to adapt your style.

5. The people you lead aren’t improving as people.

Effective leaders don’t just get production from a team—they also develop the people on the team. If your team is full of people who have become stagnant in their personal and professional growth, it’s time to adapt your style.

6. You don’t listen to other people’s thoughts and opinions.

Sometimes, success causes leaders to assume they have gained enough knowledge and experience to discount the advice and perspectives of others. But true leaders keep learning and growing through those team inputs. If you are asking for less input, or your team members are offering less input on their own, it’s time to adapt your style.

7. You always want the credit and limelight.

Effective leaders share accolades and bring attention to the stars on the teams they lead. But whether intentionally or by necessity, sometimes the leader becomes the face of the story too often. If the people you lead aren’t also the people you celebrate and spotlight, publicly and privately, it’s time to adapt your style.

There are many different lists of “leadership styles” out there—an internet search shows this to be true. One of my favorites is my friend and NFL great Tony Dungy’s “mentor leader” style. But leaders usually combine aspects of more than one leadership style. As you consider these signs indicating the need to make changes, look for ways to adapt your core style without having to fully abandon what still serves you well. You don’t always have to radically change your entire style of leadership; sometimes you just need to tweak some aspects of the styles you naturally use.

What advice would you give to a leader who wants to change leadership style? Share in a comment.

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