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What Are the Different Leadership and Communication Styles?
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Recruiting & Hiring

What Are the Different Leadership and Communication Styles?

One-Minute Takeaway

  • Leadership styles are the unique ways individuals communicate, motivate, and provide direction to others.
  • Communication style plays a crucial role in exhibiting leadership. There are 9 common communication styles: Experiencing, Imagining, Reflecting, Analyzing, Thinking, Deciding, Acting, Initiating, and Balancing.
  • The best leadership or communication style depends on the situation and individuals involved so it’s important to be flexible.

An individual’s leadership style is the way they communicate, motivate, and provide direction to those around them. Just like a personality, each person’s leadership style is made up of a complex number of factors like their level of empathy, how they communicate, or how they motivate people. While we each have a leadership style we naturally lean into, we can develop and flex our style with the right leadership training.

When most people hear the word “leader” they immediately think of people in high-level positions. Their mind wanders to the CEOs, VPs, and other executives making high-stakes decisions and calling all the shots.

But leaders exist at every level of an organization, regardless of role or title. Simply put, leaders are people who take responsibility for not only themselves but for those around them. They understand that they need to master both the “doing” and “being” aspects of whole person development.

Exhibiting leadership can be as simple as picking up a piece of trash on the sidewalk or jumping in on a project to help out your team. It doesn’t always mean being in charge of a large group of people and delegating their actions.

What are the 8 leadership styles?

While you can’t really lump each individual person and the way they exhibit leadership into a set classification, it can be helpful to have a general idea of how you lead so you can identify areas for improvement as well as the leadership skills areas where you’re already succeeding.

There are many assessment styles that each offer their own unique perspective on the different leadership styles, but for this article’s purposes, we’ll use the DISC leadership style model. The DISC model factors in dominance, influence, steadiness, and compliance.

The combination of the prominence of each of those factors results in the following types of leadership:

  • Pioneering: Pioneering leaders tend to be charming, bold, and passionate. At times they may come across as overconfident or impulsive, but they’re great at encouraging others to try new things.
  • Energizing: Energizing leaders use their popularity and energy to motivate those around them. They know that excitement around a shared goal can drive people to succeed. At times, they may seem unorganized or erratic because they move at such a fast pace.
  • Affirming: Affirming leaders are very supportive and do their best to create a positive environment where everyone is happy. This behavior can also cause this leadership type to beat around the bush or avoid giving hard or constructive feedback.
  • Inclusive: Inclusive leaders are big on collaboration and work hard to accommodate the needs of everyone around them. Sometimes their inclusive behavior can cause them to let others take advantage of how willing they are to support.
  • Humble: Humble leaders are reliable, modest, and fair. They succeed with the mantra “slow and steady wins the race” but can also be overly cautious and afraid to take risks.
  • Deliberate: Deliberate leaders are very analytic, disciplined, and organized. They often display perfectionist tendencies and can forget to be empathetic towards others in their effort to achieve high standards.
  • Resolute: Resolute leaders aren’t afraid to question the norm or do things differently in order to achieve better results. Because they’re always open to questioning questioning how things are done, they can sometimes come across as negative or pessimistic.
  • Commanding: Commanding leaders know what they want and how to get there. They’re great at sending a powerful message of action to motivate their teams, but can also come across as bossy or demanding if they don’t make a conscious effort to focus on team happiness.

Which leadership style is best?

Honestly, there is no overarching “best” leadership style. The best leader is one who can adjust their style to fit the needs of the role they’re in, the people they work alongside or above, and the job that needs to be done.

Having a general awareness of your own leadership style allows you to flex your style as needed. For example, if you have one team member who is most motivated by affirming praise, and another who works best with clear and concise direction and feedback, a good leader would be able to flex between those styles to best serve their team. The ability to flex your leadership style can be honed with the right leadership training.

What are the 9 communication styles?

A large piece of the way you exhibit leadership comes down to the way you communicate. Similar to leadership style, your communication style might not fit perfectly into one box or description. You might use a number of the styles listed below at any given time or flex your communication style depending on where you are or who you’re talking to.

Let’s take a look at some of the commonly identified communication styles:

  • Experiencing: Someone with the experiencing communication style is highly empathetic and aware of the emotions of others. They thrive on relationships and human connections.
  • Imagining: Those who display the imagining communication style like to reflect on experiences. They appreciate diversity, new ideas, and are open to new possibilities.
  • Reflecting: The reflecting communication style typically doesn’t act until they have sound results they can count on. They prefer to observe, look at a situation at all angles, weigh their choices, and then act.
  • Analyzing: The analyzing communication style consists of making systematic assumptions based on observations they make. This style involves a lot of planning and attention to detail.
  • Thinking: The thinking communication style uses quantitative information to analyze and communicate. They often focus on a single piece of information or goal at a time.
  • Deciding: The deciding communication style involves strong problem solving and goal setting. This type of communicator will set goals and analyze progress based on their results.
  • Acting: The acting communication style consists of goal setting and execution. This personality type balances accomplishing goals and facilitating relationships well.
  • Initiating: Those with the initiating communication style are big on networking and influence. They’re not afraid of taking risks and can think and react quickly to new opportunities.
  • Balancing: The balancing communication style weighs reflection and action equally. They’re great at being flexible and can easily find opportunity areas through reflection and act on correcting them.

Take some time to think through what your leadership style and communication styles are naturally, and which styles you can flex into to better serve your team. This can be accomplished with self-reflection, by asking for feedback from those you work with, or even by taking a “what is your leadership style” quiz to get a baseline understanding.