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Defining Leadership and Management Styles

By Diane Hudson

You may face these two questions in a single interview: "What is your leadership style?" and "What is your management style?" 

As a service member, you probably had substantial training and experience with both leadership and management.

You need to "package" that experience and those skills in a way that a civilian manager can understand the value you bring.

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Leaders vs. Managers

Natural leaders develop a following; they focus on building relationships and ensuring that visions and mission plans come to fruition.

Alternately, managers may need to earn their level of respect and authority, by moving up the ladder at a company, as an example. Managers normally enforce rules and they are more function-oriented, concerned with organizational requirements, planning, staffing, directing, and controlling. Managers often think incrementally, and leaders think radically.

A leader needs excellent communication skills and an awareness of the entire organization and the activities of the team (the bigger vision).

Hybels' Leadership Styles

Here is a list of potential Leadership Styles, that you may identify with (summarized) from Billy Hybels, a leadership trainer, speaker, author, and communicator:

  • Visionary Leader

    The visionary leader sees the "big picture" of programs and what they want to happen in their minds. They usually express great enthusiasm to fulfill their visions. Visionary leaders share their vision with anyone who will listen. They usually are undeterred.
  • Directional Leader

    The directional leader recognizes how to choose the right path at the critical intersections when the organization starts to ask hard questions: "Is it time for a wholesale change or should we stay the course? Should we add facilities or relocate?" This type of leader is able to sort through options and assess the mission including its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Strategic Leader

    The strategic leader is able to break an operation into steps and help it unfold. This leader takes a vision and makes a workable plan that a team can follow. This leader is detail-oriented.
  • Managing Leader

    The managing leader is able to manage the people, processes, and systems. Directional and strategic leaders may be incapable of lining up the correct team members, resources, and systems in order to achieve set goals, like the managing leader
  • Motivational Leader

    The motivational leader provides ongoing inspiration and refreshment for team members. This leader celebrates accomplishments and recognizes when the team or person needs a promotion, pay raise, or other encouragement.
  • Team-building Leader

    Team-building leaders find and develop other leaders. They have a knack for matching talents and blending teams with the right chemistry of each team member. They are able to fit people into positions on a team to achieve desired results.
  • Entrepreneurial Leader

    The entrepreneurial leader has "vision, boundless energy, and a risk-taking spirit. They love being told it cannot be done," according to Hybels. This type of leader is always looking for a new start-up project or challenge
  • Re-engineering Leader

    The re-engineering leader is a likely follow-up from the entrepreneurial leader. This type of leader looks at a situation and is challenged to fix the problem. They enjoy reorganizing and revitalizing flailing organizations. However, they like constant new challenges and once a project is in place for re-engineering, they may be already looking for the next "fix-it" project.
  • Bridge-building Leader

    The bridge-building leader’s mission is to bring together various representatives under a single umbrella, so that the overall organization can accomplish its goals. This leader has exceptional communications skills with an ability to listen, assess needs, understand all points of view, negotiate well and calmly, and maintain diplomacy.

Blanchard Situational Leadership Styles

Here is a description of situational leadership styles as classified by Blanchard Training and Development®:

  • Selling: Hi people and Hi task

    The selling leader sets the goals and gains input from others. This leader makes decisions and motivates buy-in by others. They make the plans.
  • Participating: Hi people and Lo task

    This leader involves staff in goal-setting, they encourage the team to develop plans, they help solve problems, and they provide encouragement and support.
  • Telling: Lo people and Hi task

    This leader sets goals unilaterally, develops plans and assigns tasks, gives direction and solves problems, and closely supervises workers.
  • Delegating: Lo people and Lo task

    The delegating leader goal-sets and plans with team members, shares decision-making, allows team members to evaluate their work, and provides feedback and recognition.

Obviously management styles and leadership styles cross boundaries. But a leader is someone people follow. In addition, "mindful managers" can become directional leaders. For more information on situational leadership styles, visit the Blanchard Training and Development®.

Right Fit

Understanding leadership styles for talent management (recruitment) purposes is important. A good fit when an employer places a candidate (or a recruiter solicits a candidate), must ensure the right chemistry for team players, knowledge of the job and specific industry, and so forth.

For example, placing a re-engineering leader into an organization that runs smooth and does not require new processes, will squelch the leader’s ability to work effectively. And oppositely, placing a visionary leader in a position that requires the development of plans and steps to achieve a mission, will also be a detrimental fit.

A good fit would be a motivational leader with an energetic personality who inspires his colleagues, subordinates, leaders, and external contacts / management leader, which compliments the management style of handling the daily operations of a large department/division, with responsibility for plans, resources, organization and scheduling, and coordination, working in busy, large organization, with many personal interactions (Selling: Hi people and Hi task).

On the other hand, if a manager is needed for a position, and not a leader, i.e., a manager who has the fortitude to enforce rules, policies, and procedures; develop working plans, and handle resources from an office with a bit of hands-on, then a recruiter will benefit from selecting a candidate with more management abilities than leadership abilities. Usually, people like and revere leaders. But managers, do not necessarily need to be liked. They are often the overseers.

The book Certain Trumpets by Gary Wills describes the impact of making a proper fit for leaders, i.e., a military-style leadership works best in war time, a political leader is best when forming a government with thousands of constituencies, and an intellectual leader is the best fit for an ideologically social struggle. Fit is critical to effective leadership in any environment.

Are you able to determine your leadership or management style (s) from these brief summaries? Once identified, you can carry the theme into your professional resumes, networking, and interviewing process.

Bottom Line

Most likely, as a service member, you acted in leadership and management roles, which are benefits to potential employers. Nevertheless, it is important for you to identify your natural abilities and leverage those strengths on your resume and in the interview process.


About the author...

Job-Hunt's Job Search Expert for Veterans, Diane Hudson is a military transition job-search strategist and career coach. She designs and composes military conversion resumes and helps position service members for employment in corporate or Federal America. Diane holds eight industry credentials including Certified Leadership & Talent Management Coach and Federal Job Search Trainer & Counselor and owns Career Marketing Techniques.


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