How to Answer ‘What is Your Leadership Style?’

Explore different leadership approaches that resonate with your personality. In this article, you’ll find expert tips & resources!
Safa Asad
Reviewed by:
Mina Wasfi
January 10, 2024
0 min read time
Safa Asad

We often hear the saying, "People don't leave bad companies, they leave bad bosses." In the dynamic and ever-evolving world of business, leaders hold the key to unlocking an organization's true potential. One of the greatest threats to a company's culture is poor leadership. Without the right leadership style, not only does the company's vision get blurred, but it also has a profound effect on employee performance.

Leadership is an art, it can have different colors and forms that adapt to different employee needs and supports their professional growth. However, do you know what kind of leader you are?
Before we delve into discovering where you stand as a leader, let's first define what do experts mean when they use the term 'leadership style'

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What is a Leadership Style?

A leadership style is a behavioral path decided by a person to exhibit their strategies and plan in order to yield optimal results. An effective leadership style generates maximized performance by team members. An environment that promotes team members' collaboration, invention, and productivity is created by leaders who have a distinct and well-defined leadership style. They adjust their approach in light of the knowledge that various circumstances and people may call for various strategies.

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What are the 4 Main Leadership Styles?

The world of leadership has countless models and frameworks to choose from. One of the simplest and quickest to start with is Mark Murphy’s four fundamental leadership styles which include Pragmatist, Diplomat, Steward and Idealist. His belief is that every leader has a prominent approach and it falls into one of the four styles below.
And here's a fun twist: as we explore each style, we'll reveal some cool pros and cons along the way!

1. Pragmatist

‘I want it, I got it’
Yes, pragmatics are bold, competitive, risk takers, open-minded, have high standards and results matter the most for them. 

Pros: They are like chameleons, adapting to different situations with ease and making sure that the work gets done.

Cons: Their ‘now or never’ attitude can be good for the present but they get too focused on short-term goals missing the larger picture. 

2. Diplomats

‘It's easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky’ 

They’re social, conflict resolvers, and focus on culture and connection with stakeholders. 

Pros: Diplomat leaders are skilled at navigating tricky situations with grace and tact.

Cons: They have ‘endless negotiation’ syndrome. While they excel at finding common ground, they might get caught up in never-ending discussions, delaying decision-making and progress.

3. Steward

‘Lean on me when you're not strong, And I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on’

They're like a lighthouse, constantly shining a light on the right path and ensuring everyone's well-being.

Pros: They possess unwavering resilience and reliability when it comes to handling any workload or challenges thrown their way. 

Cons: They can become a little too overprotective, limiting their team members' independence and growth opportunities.

4. Idealists

‘I see skies of blue and clouds of white,The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night And I think to myself, what a wonderful world’

They possess a vibrant imagination and a contagious optimism that inspires others to dream big.

Pros: They are eager to learn and grow, they are visionaries, exuding high levels of energy that captivate those around them.

Cons: While their lofty dreams and aspirations are admirable, sometimes they need to pay more attention to practical constraints and lose touch with the ground reality. 

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How to answer “What is your leadership style?”

Now that you are familiar with the different leadership styles, we have some tips to help you respond confidently when faced with this question during an interview.

[fs-toc-omit]1. Determine your leadership style:

Reflect upon your previous experiences where you took charge and led a team. Consider the approaches you used to plan projects and how you interacted with your teammates.  Don’t just say that ‘I was not a leader’ or ‘I’m not sure’ as it will negatively affect your chances of getting hired. 

Give them a true reflection of your leadership style as it narrates your personality too. 

[fs-toc-omit]2. Share specific examples:

Don’t just tell them about the type of leader you are, share stories that showcase your abilities and achievements. Provide concrete, real-life examples and avoid being vague. Keep your communication specific and focused. You can implement STAR response technique, which includes four elements; Situation, Task, Action, and Result. 

[fs-toc-omit]3. Practice, practice, practice…

Describing your leadership style is not a question that can be answered spontaneously, as it requires careful reflection on impactful experiences and a thoughtful selection of words.

Do all the drill before heading into the interview room, practice with yourself or with a friend. 

Before jumping to the next part,here’s a sample example that you can use during an interview.

I love task delegation and active participation, and I take a direct approach to leadership. In a prior position, when a website went down, I quickly allocated duties, directly communicated with the client to get information, and provided workarounds while focusing on long-term fixes. The fact that my staff appreciated how committed I was encouraged them to work hard.

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Why is Leadership Style Important?

Daniel Goleman’s Leadership That Gets Results, a Harvard Business Review three-year study states that 30% of the company’s bottom line profitability depends upon leadership.

But leadership goes beyond just financial results. It sets the tone for employee engagement and influences the quality of communication within the company. Good leadership also fosters an environment that promotes personal and professional growth among employees, ultimately shaping the organizational culture.

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How to Describe Your Leadership Style?

There are no hard and fast rules for this question but we’ve got some words for you that might be useful.  

[fs-toc-omit]Example # 1:

As a pragmatist leader, I prioritize practicality and results. I believe in taking a hands-on approach, focusing on what works in the given situation and making data-driven decisions. I encourage my team to find efficient solutions and adapt quickly to changes, ensuring that our goals are achieved with a practical and realistic approach.

[fs-toc-omit]Example # 2:

As a diplomat leader, I excel in building and maintaining relationships, both within and outside the organization. I believe in the power of effective communication and seek consensus among diverse perspectives. I prioritize conflict resolution, aiming to create harmony and collaboration within the team. I value empathy, active listening, and finding win-win solutions.

[fs-toc-omit]Example # 3:

As an idealist leader, I am driven by a vision and a strong set of values. I believe in empowering individuals, fostering creativity, and encouraging innovation. I encourage open communication and collaboration, aiming to create a positive and purpose-driven work environment.

[fs-toc-omit]Example # 4:

As a steward leader, I take a long-term perspective and prioritize the well-being of my team and the organization as a whole. I focus on building strong relationships, trust, and loyalty. I am committed to developing the potential of my team members, ensuring their growth and success. I emphasize ethical and sustainable practices, aiming to leave a positive legacy for future generations.

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To sum a long story short, you need to identify your leadership style and then hone that style with consistency and persistence. Every style is unique however there are a set of challenges that arise with each style. Conquering these challenges and mastering the art is the true manifestation of leadership. Remember, you can always switch from one style to another or amalgamate two styles for optimal results because it is not a linear path rather it demands constant retrospect because Leaders are not born but made. 

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