This is a question I get asked a lot and the short answer is yes, of course they do. But that is only the short answer. In truth, lockdown is giving us a better demonstration of the slightly longer version.

In the early part of the 20th century, the ‘trait theory’ argued that some were born into the role of leadership due to genetic differences. In recent years opponents to this theory have instead suggested that leadership is based on a set of qualities that are created from nurture rather than nature.

These qualities include:

  • honesty and integrity
  • emotional intelligence
  • focused decision making
  • empowering others
  • inspirational
  • a great communicator 

Whilst some of these are rooted in our early upbringing, what it means to be a great leader is based on skills that can be developed at any stage of life.

In his book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ Daniel Goleman states that 75% of our happiness and success is down to our EQ, our emotional quotient, and how well we interpret and handle the world around us. For leaders, that figure rose to 90%. Emotional intelligence is garnered more through nurture than nature and we can continue to expand our knowledge and pick up new tools to help us.

All leaders will be more suited to one style of leadership, but we also know that leadership is not a ‘one size fits all’ task. We need to have more strings to our bow. So, what do we mean by leadership styles?

According to Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, there are six key leadership styles:

Each has a different effect on the emotions of the people that you are leading. Each style works well depending on the situation, and creates different responses and behaviours, and results. Anyone can learn how to use these leadership styles, but it is important to remember that these are best used interchangeably depending on the needs of your team and the situation.

Research done by Gallup, CIPD and various business schools shows that Visionary and Coaching are the two most effective styles in the modern workplace. But that is not our history, we grew up in a more Commanding world of work, so it is only natural that these are the styles we are more comfortable with. Although, this might not be what our people need from us now.

As a coach working with leaders, it becomes clear early on what the favoured style is, and which feel ‘clunky’ to use. Most forward-thinking businesses have a leadership development system or favoured leadership programme but sometimes this can inhibit new learning and other ways of doing things.

It is a very interesting time for businesses when looked at from this perspective. There is a need to keep the overall business healthy and functional through the lockdown period and beyond, as well as serving our people in the best possible way. There will come the time when furloughed staff return to the business, offices are occupied again, and ‘normal’ life resumes over a gradual timeframe. What emotional state will our people be in when we need them the most to help our businesses grow and adapt?

Interpreting the events around us now is our biggest challenge. Human beings don’t hit the pause button very often, and we don’t do it well at all.From an early age, it has been put in our heads that we must move forwards, if we aren’t growing and developing then we are failing. We only have to look at social media to see how much we are craving being able to take our finger off pause and hit play instead.

It is a great time for us to collect information, tips, and tools to add to our arsenal of leadership styles, developing skills based on nurture and not on nature. We might be born as one of the leadership styles more naturally, and find that one easier, but great leaders can learn new skills and add them to their toolkit to be used at the appropriate time. We need to step out of a mindset that inhibits our desire to look for new ways of doing things and start to learn a blended style that will help us to better serve our people.

The great news is that lockdown has brought with it a huge wave of altruism. There is so much content being shared ranging from health and well-being, home schooling our children, keeping fit, managing mental health and business tips. This site is a great example of this in practice.