Careers and Enterprise Blog

Transferable skills- leadership


Transferable skills- leadership

Transferable skills series

Leadership is often discussed synonymously with the term management, although the two are quite different. Management tends to focus on the control of people, resources, capital, facilities, and equipment, whereas leadership focuses on developing a vision, values, mission, and culture that moves the business and its people in a certain direction.

The art of good leadership

The art of good leadership is balancing the needs of the business, with the needs of the individuals in your team, taking them on the journey with you and fostering a culture that allows each team member to contribute to the success of the business. This creates affiliation between the team and the business and increases job enrichment and satisfaction, whilst also increasing retention of staff and improving service delivery.

Ultimately, the most important aspect of leadership is being an authentic leader. There is no point in trying to act and behave against your own individual nature and it is important that your leadership style (which we will come on to later) resonates with your core strengths, personality type and values. Whilst this will change overtime, your style should be values based. This will invariably increase employee engagement and your team will naturally come to respect your actions and reasoning if you are being organic and genuine in your approach – this is an art and a skill that is often developed overtime and can be a continuous process.

Can you be a good manager without being a good leader and visa versa?

Whilst the two words are often closely linked, it is true to say that you can be a good manager without being a good leader and be a good leader without being a good manager. Whilst the skills of a good leader and a good manager often overlap, there are clear distinctions between the two and this can often become acutely apparent in various situations.

For example, an individual may have exemplary organisational, planning, and analytical skills (management skills), but may struggle with communication and influencing skills (leadership skills). Both are fundamental to getting the best out of your team and creating a successful business; however, often managers are trained to be managers, meaning leadership skills development often takes a back seat when considering, induction, training, and development of many managers.

Autocratic or Authoritarian leadership

An autocratic or authoritarian leader will centralise power and decision-making into themselves. The leader gives orders and assigns tasks and duties without consulting the employees. The leader takes full authority and assumes full responsibility for the business and its outcomes.

Autocratic leadership can be negative, especially when based on threats and punishment. Subordinates act as directed and must comply with orders. They tend not to seek the opinion of others, allow individuals to have a voice in the business, or contribute to decision-making.

Autocratic leadership requires close supervision, often micro-management, as well as clear and precise direction from the superior. This leadership style does not give much room for delegation and could lead to discouraging employees in providing value to the business through the exchange of ideas and open communication. It is likely to produce frustration and reduce the growth capacity of employees.

Democratic or participative leadership

Democratic or participative leaders, decentralise power and delegate responsibilities to the team. Through a consultative approach, these leaders will work with the team to formulate processes, policies and plans and will foster an environment where all colleagues have a voice and a say in how the business is run and how the team operates.

Using persuasion and example to guide the team through a values approach, this type of leader recognises the individual contribution each team member can make to improve the business. Often, they will act a mediator and mentor and become the facilitator for ideas.

This approach will increase engagement and enthusiasm from the team and make them feel valued and committed to their organisation. Through positively contributing to decision-making, individuals will have increased motivation, improved job performance and increased co-operation with management.

The laissez-faire or free-rein leadership

These leaders tend to avoid power and responsibility, often leaving the team to their own devices and passes on all duties, responsibilities, and decision-making to their team members. They do not set goals for the team, nor do they support the team with giving clear direction on how to improve and allows them to establish their own goals (if any at all).

This leader plays a minor role in the success of the team and takes minimum initiative in administration and strategic planning and exerts little, to know control over their team. Due to the lack of control and direction, inefficiency in the team and a lack of clarity of what success looks like often occurs.

What often occurs with this leadership style, is a lack of respect, possible resentment from the team and the leader feeling unable to command the team. Through being too passive and not providing the team with clear direction, service standards and business outcomes ultimately suffer, and the team become disengaged, and productivity is often low.

Paternalistic leadership

This leader assumes the role of parent. Acting in a manner as would the head of a family. They are protective, guide and shield their team from external forces and threats. This could be other colleagues outside of the team, other organisations, or their customers.

Providing the team with good working conditions and an in-group mentality, this leader can often become possessive of the team, defending them against judgement from others, therefore not allowing subjectivity in their thinking. This leadership often leads to delusion amongst the team regarding success, as they are so fiercely defended by their leader that they cannot improve or learn from feedback.

Why not take this leadership style quiz here to find out what type of leader you are or will be?

So, whilst no one type of leader would be the right approach in every situation, it is worth thinking about these different types of leadership style and the benefits they may offer to the team and the business.

It is often the case that great leaders adopt a situational leadership approach, where they adapt their leadership style to meet the needs of the business, the team, and the situation. The main characteristics of a situational leader are:

  • Insightfulness
  • Flexibility
  • Trustworthy
  • Analytical
  • Coaching

These are all great attributes to adopt when thinking about your leadership approach and it is often the simple case, and it is always worth considering when in any given situation – treat others how you would like to be treated. If you do this, you are on to a winning formula!

Want to find out more about jobs that suit your skills?

  • Go on to the Careers & Enterprise Hub, and under ‘Resources’ click on ‘Labour Market Information’. There, you can ‘explore by skills’ – just click on at least 3 skills, and it’ll show you job roles that match!
  • If you click on the job role, it’ll give you more information about average salary, what the role entails etc.
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