Ever been asked, “What type of leader are you?” only to stumble over your words as you give a very vague, possibly weird answer? You may not have ever thought about your leadership style before, but if you are a leader worth your salt, you will be able to tell a hiring manager just how well you will lead a team.  Lucky for you, we have made it easy to identify your leadership style, so you’ll have a solid answer to that question at your next job interview.

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According to Dr. Jurt Lewin’s 1930’s leadership style experiment that is still used today to describe and identify leadership styles, there are three different styles in which we choose to lead by; Autocratic, Democratic, and Laissez-Faire. To give a few real world examples, Autocratic is Steve Jobs, Democratic is Richard Branson, and Laissez-Faire is Warren Buffet. You might be an autocratic leader if you tend to be on the more controlling side, making decisions in a silo. Autocratic leaders, while sometimes get a bad rap for possibly having a superiority complex, can occasionally be admired for their ability to somehow get the work done and done fast even if their method of motivation is loaded with unprofessional tactics. You are more democratic if you tend to seek the opinions and ideas of your team and feel like your team strengthens your work on the project rather than threatens it. Democratic leaders are often well liked, but if we had to find a negative, their methods of group decision making might be counteractive on a project with tight deadlines. A laissez-faire type has no ego in the game, and has no problem giving up large pieces of a project to those who will take it and run with it. Laissez-Faire leaders encourage motivation through believing strongly in their team members, however sometimes this management style is a little too lax, and can slow project timelines.

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While each leadership style can be effective, the best leaders are those that have some combination of the three, meaning they make independent decisions, but are still open to team input and have no issue delegating certain tasks to those that can do the job better than they can. The study, however, concluded that, if they had to choose just one, Democratic would be the most effective leadership style because of its ability to win over team members and build solid relationships. So which is the very best leadership style for a Project Manager? Let’s start with democratic and add in autocratic decision making mixed with a bit of laissez-faire delegating.  Most of all, choose a style that works best for you, your project, and your team.

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