How To Become A Leader: A Guide (With Leadership Styles)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The role of a leader is crucial for organisational growth and leveraging human resources. Companies usually offer leadership roles to professionals with strong communication, team management, organisation and analytical thinking skills. Learning about different leadership qualities can help you develop these skills and secure a leadership role at the workplace. In this article, we discuss the definition of a leader, explain different leadership styles and share the steps to help you learn how to become a leader.

What is a leader?

A leader organises, manages and commands a group or company. They are goal-oriented and focus on inspiring and guiding their team to maximise efficiency. They are usually responsible for identifying opportunities and resolving obstacles. Leaders define the goals, processes and strategy of their team and oversee its execution.

A leader keeps their team motivated and ensures that all team members complete their tasks within the stipulated time. They also typically handle complex decision-making for the team or organisation. Most managers develop leadership skills by taking responsibility for smaller projects and learning from experience. Leadership requires continuous learning and motivation, alongside a commitment to excellence.

Related: Boss Vs. Leader: What Are The Fundamental Differences?

How to become a leader

Follow these steps to find out how to become a leader:

1. Communicate efficiently

Communication is an essential skill for a successful leader. It is vital to interact with your team to communicate goals, track progress and offer feedback. Communication skills are also vital to manage clients, contractors and other crucial stakeholders. As a leader, engage with the team through different communication channels such as email, online messaging and face-to-face meetings.

2. Give your team a shared goal

Communicating the goal to the group or the organisation is a crucial aspect of being a leader. Sharing it provides the team with a purpose and helps motivate them. It can be beneficial to form a vision statement and define your values to avoid overwhelming the team.

Related: Is Teamwork A Skill? Definition And Examples

3. Be confident

The role of leaders during a challenge or time of distress becomes crucial. It is critical for them to stay calm in high-pressure situations. In some cases, a leader may doubt their ability and judgement, but being confident and trusting the team's ability is essential to achieve the desired outcome.

4. Learn to listen and solve problems

Leaders consider all relevant aspects of a problem and take a timely decision. By encouraging people to participate and contribute in discussions, leaders can learn their perspectives. Listen to all stakeholders, such as customers, clients investors and employees, before taking a decision. Ensuring that people feel heard is a powerful method to make effective decisions and become influential leaders.

Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition And Examples

5. Foster creativity

A charismatic leader creates a space for their team to collaborate, ideate and implement new solutions. A leader encourages new methodologies for problem-solving. This also helps build a workspace where employees become better at creatively solving issues and feel challenged to be better at their jobs. Collaborative workplaces may also retain employees for a longer duration and reduce attrition rates.

Related: Creative Thinking: Definition, Development And Advantages

6. Take risks and demonstrate accountability

Leaders are confident in their decisions and take responsibility for their results. A strong leader learns to take calculated risks. It demonstrates an ability to recognise opportunities and may result in high returns. In case the risk does not result in the intended outcome, leaders h

7. Set an example for your team

An able leader is willing to do any task their team may do. They do not consider any job more important or superior to another. A leader identifies opportunities to guide their team and achieve their goal and may even support their team members to learn a new skill or solve a problem.

8. Demonstrate balance

Striking a balance between being firm and flexible, authoritative and approachable and traditionalist and innovative can help leaders manage different situations effectively. This can help them offer a nuanced solution to various problems. Establishing this balance usually comes with experience and critical leadership roles.

9. Act according to the situation

Leaders recognise that all teams and organisations function differently. They understand the requirement of the situation and respond accordingly. In some cases, a collaborative approach may be beneficial, while assigning specific tasks to a team in other situations might work better. An agile method of leadership helps in the holistic growth of the team and the organisation.

10. Encourage growth

A leader focuses on the personal and professional growth of their team members. Effective leaders encourage their team members to become future leaders and mentor them. Identifying traits and empowering team members with the right skills, resources and tools is a crucial leadership skill.

11. Delegate responsibilities

A vital leadership skill is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of team members and delegate jobs accordingly. This improves team efficiency, prioritises urgent tasks and sets up a systematic workflow. It makes each team member accountable for their work and may also increase productivity and the quality of work. The ability to delegate tasks shows how well a leader understands their team and manages strict deadlines.

Related: The Importance Of Delegation Of Authority In Management

Types of leadership

The methods and behaviours of managing others vary with every leader. It is essential to identify your leadership style to understand its impact on the people you manage. Understanding the various leadership styles can help you develop your skills effectively. Here are some common leadership styles:

Democratic leadership

Democratic leadership is a popular leadership style that many leaders prefer. It fosters a collaborative environment where the leader encourages input from their team before decision-making. It is effective as it creates active communication channels and encourages employee participation.

Strategic leadership

Strategic leaders take responsibility for executive interests to maintain stable working conditions. This type of leadership support all types of employees but can be challenging for the leader. It identifies the best for the organisation while making the team a priority.

Coach leadership

This leadership style focuses on the development and growth of team members. The leader provides regular feedback and guidance to their team members to help them improve their skills. It is a compelling leadership style that makes a leader empathetic and approachable. Additionally, a team that regularly improves their skills can be more productive, creative and responsive to new challenges.

Autocratic leadership

In autocratic leadership, the leader makes all executive decisions without any consultation. It may be effective at an organisational level, especially while making policy decisions. This type of leadership relies less on inputs from stakeholders and more on the leader's ability in decision-making. Additionally, it defines roles within the organisation and encourages accountability.

Transactional leadership

Transactional leadership relies on a short-term transactional benefit that leaders may impose on their team. Team leaders may adopt this style to increase employee performance and benefit the organisation in the short term. The leader decides the reward and instructs the team members in every process. It provides stability and is effective in achieving short-term goals.

Bureaucratic leadership

Bureaucratic leadership follows a strict chain of command and implements the same set of rules and processes consistently. It defines the role of the leader, their responsibilities and those of the team members. This leadership style is common in government bodies, military and public organisations.

Transformational leadership

Transformational leadership focuses on changing existing methods and increasing productivity by motivation and inspiration. Leaders adopting this leadership style help their team identify their potential and encourage collaboration. It provides the team with the freedom to innovate and grow by adopting new methodologies for problem-solving.

Collaborative leadership

Leaders focused on creativity and innovative thinking usually adopt a collaborative leadership style. It encourages collaboration across teams and organisations to help design effective solutions for problems. This also strengthens cross-team relationships and builds trust within the organisation. A collaborative leader guides their team by fostering participation.

Servant leadership

This leadership style focuses on the requirements of the employees, organisation and other stakeholders. Leaders improve performance and innovation by enabling their teams to collaborate and function. These types of leaders are usually empathic and have a participative approach.

Laissez-faire leadership

This leadership style focuses on providing freedom and autonomy to team members. Leaders provide their team with the necessary resources and encourage independent thinking. It empowers individuals and helps them become leaders. Leaders do not usually participate in the day-to-day affairs of their team while ensuring there is accountability.

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