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How To Answer “What Is Your Leadership Style?”

In today’s business world, one of the biggest challenges faced by companies is the development of the right sort of leaders. There was a time when all ‘leaders’ had to do was shout. Not a skill that is worth anything; thankfully, for the most part, those days are gone.

At your interview, you may well need to know How To Answer “What Is Your Leadership Style?”. The interviewer will ask because they want to know how you see yourself. They will need to know that you will fit into the style of management that currently exists.

what is your leadership style

Developing Leaders

This is already known to be an area that will be critical to the success of any business. And not just right at the top. Companies need people with certain leadership skills right through the company at every level. Because of that, employers are looking for people with certain skills and attributes. But before we start to talk about how you answer the question, let’s just clarify something.

Leadership versus Managing

Some people refer to these two subjects as the same, but they aren’t. If you are a Manager, then you do have to show leadership skills. But you don’t have to be a Manager to do that. There are different types of leadership styles that do not rely on managing.

Leadership is about being able to influence people. It is about encouraging them and, if possible, helping them to become better.

what is your leadership style answer

Have You Considered If You Have a Style?

If not, then how are you going to answer the question? If you haven’t considered if you have a style, then maybe now is the time. And if you think you have, let’s see where it fits in.

There are considered to be five different types of leadership styles, these are:

Transformational

Those who serve as role models to others improving morale and therefore work performance.

Participatory

Lead with a hands-on approach; they empower and include those who might be affected by internal decisions.

Value-Based

Leaders who exemplify the values of the business and encourage others to do the same through example at the workplace.

Situational

Leaders who can identify the strengths and weaknesses of those they work with and assign them to be most effective.

Servant

Servant leadership is about putting the needs of others as a driving priority, instead of trying to accumulate power, they share it to achieve performance.

There isn’t room here to attempt a concise description of each. But there should be just enough to let you identify which group you fall into.

Being A Good Leader

But having good leadership skills isn’t just about how you behave and act. To be a great leader, you need to develop an understanding of others, especially those around you. Whatever leadership style you relate to and/or practice, there are some other qualities that you need to include.

Compassion

Over the last twenty years, there has been a change in how our most efficient leaders behave. The ‘big shot I am the Boss’ attitude, thankfully, has been replaced by more worthy attributes. One of those is Compassion.

It creates a feeling of appreciation amongst subordinates and colleagues. And it is certainly responsible for an increase in more productive performances. Showing and not being afraid to show compassion is one of the great strengths good leaders have.

what is your leadership style answers

Vulnerability

For many years there was this feeling that leaders should not be seen to be vulnerable. It didn’t fit the image that had been created for them. But showing vulnerability is actually a strength. No one is infallible, and it is not a bad thing to show you don’t actually know the answer at that precise time.

There is actually a thought that says there is no such thing as a failure, just another part of your learning curve. Our mistakes add to our experience, which makes us better leaders.

Emotional Intelligence

Not a phrase that is particularly attractive or even explanatory. It might have been better just to call it empathy, which is essentially what it is. Eighty percent of all communication does not involve speaking. So being able to gauge the mood of a room of people or just an individual is important.

This is where the title comes from because you need to learn to be emotionally intelligent. But that is just refining your empathetic feelings. That way, you can positively influence others, and they will respond.

How To Answer “What Is Your Leadership Style?”

You are sitting at your interview, and it all seems to be going quite well, and then they hit you with that one. What are you going to say? Your answer will depend on whether you have actually had an experience of leadership or not. Let’s look at both scenarios.

No Experience In Leadership Or Management

Despite what I read in some articles, tell the truth. If you have no experience, tell them. It is going to be very apparent anyway to experienced interviewers. They are asking you for a reason.

That reason could well be that they are thinking about taking you now to prepare you for a future position. They might not be expecting you to have the experience now. They might just be considering how you will handle it once you were given the role.

What Do You Say?

  • You can talk about any situation, even a non-work situation, where you might have had some responsibility.
  • You can talk about how you would handle leadership based on the five options I have already mentioned.
  • Knowing which style suits you, you can talk about how the style works in practice and how you feel it will produce results.

what is your leadership style answer guide

But Remember This

They have seen your application form and know any leadership opportunities may not have arisen for you yet. So, they are not expecting you to come up with a stack of leadership successes. But they still called you in. That means something, so don’t blow it by giving them a load of invented nonsense. Concentrate on what you consider the important aspects of good leadership.

Some Leadership Of Small Groups Or Management Experience

This is where you can talk about what you’ve done and how you did it. Was success gained? How was that achieved? You may be unaware of what they are thinking at this stage. Are they looking to appoint you to a position? Or are they hoping that you will be able to mentor new staff? Both situations take specific leadership skills.

Widen the Answer

Don’t just talk about what you have done; there are other aspects you could mention. As part of the answer, you can outline your leadership style. Emphasize the important aspects and how you get the best from people.

Let’s Look at Some Don’ts

  • Don’t create something to make the answer look good.
  • Don’t say to the interviewer that you have never considered yourself a leader.
  • Do not answer with a smile and say you have a system that works for you and leave it at that.
  • Don’t sound dictatorial.

Show An Element Of Confidence

It is important to come across as confident but without too much self-importance attached to it. Even if you are in a position where you may not have a lot of experience of leadership, in that case, you still need to exude certain modest confidence in how you would handle it.

If You Have Specifics Keep The Answers Brief

You don’t need a life story, just a summary of what you feel you achieved in previous leadership positions. Being able to summarize is an important leadership skill. The interviewer will want to hear how you handle that.

You might be particularly happy with an aspect of what you have mentioned. If so, you can always ask the interviewer if they want you to elaborate. If they say no, move on. You don’t want to irritate the interviewer by pursuing something they don’t need to hear.

Being A Good Leader

Good leaders all know themselves very well. And they have achieved that knowledge using the experiences of successes as well as failures. They have learned how to handle both and use both to help them develop personally. To be a good leader, you have got to learn about yourself, and that is something only you can do. You can’t go around asking friends and family what your leadership qualities might be.

If they don’t think you have any or are poor at the ones you do have, are they likely to tell you? Probably not. They don’t want to upset you, which is quite understandable. So, not a set of opinions that can be accepted as realistic or considered.

Be Prepared

You do need to be prepared to face this question. The company wants to know what you think of yourself. And, of course, they are looking to see how you articulate that. If you come across with confidence and incorporate those qualities that are important in your answer, you will do fine.

Sounding good and looking good…

It is also important you look like you have the qualities they require. A classy briefcase such as the Tassia Luxury Leather Executive Case Attache Briefcase might help you, as well as a nice pen like the Parker IM Fountain Pen if you need to sign something.

And it’s always worth being prepared for a shower, so stay dry with a Lilyxin Premium Automatic Compact Umbrella Windproof.

Need More Interview Info And Advice?

Look no further, just check out my advice on What Are You Most Proud Of, How to Answer Why Best Candidate Position?, Why We Should Hire You, How Do You Handle Stress, What Are Your Career Goals, How Do You Handle Conflict, as well as the Best Questions To Ask In An Interview to help ace that interview.

Before your interview, you might want to research which Leadership style suits you best with The 9 Types of Leadership, The Leader You DON’T Want to Be, Leadership Styles: How To Discover And Leverage Yours, The Leadership Style of Jesus: How to Make a Lasting Impact, Discovering Your Leadership Style as well as The Power of an Authentic Leader online books to help you decide.

We also have some great finds such as the INTERVIEW with DESIRE and GET HIRED!: How to Ace the Interview, Sell Yourself & Get Your Dream Job, How to Answer Interview Questions: 101 Tough Interview Questions, Hiring Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions to Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent, and lastly the Amazing Interview Answers: 44 Tough Job Interview Questions with 88 Winning Answers, Get That Job!: The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview all available online in 2021.

Final Thoughts

There is no one-size-fits-all style for leadership. But there are some trusted methods that many people use. The five I have included will help you to define your style. All you have to do then when asked the question is articulate that to the interviewer.

Take the initiative to prepare some questions of your own if given the opportunity at the end to do so. And always remember to be polite and professional.

All the very best with your Interview!

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About Carmen Smith

Carmen grew up in San Diago but now lives in Boston. She loves traveling, experiencing other cultures, and basically exploring the world, be country at a time.

Her other passion is helping people find the perfect career. We spend 33% of our working lives at work, so it's ridiculous that many people do jobs that they do not enjoy. Carmen wants to change this and thinks that anyone who isn't happy in their employment should keep looking until they find something that they really enjoy. 

She firmly believes that "Everyone's perfect job is out there; it's just a case of continually looking until you find it."

Carmen lives with her husband Johnny, a keen birder who also loves to travel. He finds birds while Carmen makes plans for where they will be eating next...

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