Why Your Leadership Style Does Not Matter

Xue Zing
3 min readJul 12, 2021
Image from Unsplash by Jehyun Sung

Leadership is a phrase commonly throw about.

Everybody wants to have great leadership skills.

In the fantasy world we all want to live in, taking care of your staff, being an emphatic leader, and also getting the job done, are all possible.

Then comes the different leadership styles.

These are like personality traits where we get asked questions and then assigned a leadership style.

However, does the leadership style we identify with really matter?

Not necessarily.

We cannot control our selection of team members

In life, we will meet different kinds of people.

Some are more arrogant, some are more obedient, some prefer to be passive and some are more initiative.

Each of them will also have different incentives and goals.

Let us use a simple work team as an example,

Colleague A is distant and just wants to put in the minimal amount of work since his incentive is for the salary.

Colleague B is always giving ideas and looks forward to leading a project one day since her incentive is to obtain recognition.

Colleague C is a quiet and responsible worker that wants to complete his job well since he has high personal standards.

Using the same leadership style on each of them would cause many problems.

Colleague A would be more suited for the bureaucratic leadership style where the enforcement of rules and compliance is needed.

However, if you use the same leadership style on Colleague B, she would be very displeased and think you are a tyrant of the workplace.

A leader cannot be fixated on just one leadership style. One size does not fit all in the case of leadership

Cognitive Bias: The Anchoring Effect

The Anchoring Effect is where an individual’s decisions are influenced by a particular reference point or ‘anchor’.

Just like how people believe horoscopes are able to tell your personality.

Hence, once a leader has identified his or her own leadership style, they most likely fall into that bias.

“Oh my leadership style is coaching, I should always try my best to teach my juniors.”

“Oh my leadership style is democratic, I should always follow the consensus of the group”

Why is this bad?

This creates a stagnant view of oneself, unable to change or be flexible.

The stronger and longer the belief is entrenched, the harder it is to change.

Furthermore, that leadership style might overflow into other aspects of life.

If you see yourself as an affiliative leader who values a cohesive unit by emphasizing teamwork and harmony, you might bring that back as a parent.

However, if your child misbehaves and needs to be punished, would you enforce discipline or would you let it go for the sake of harmony of the group?

Fitting the situation to the leadership style

Each leadership style has its own pros and cons.

However, life is unpredictable and situations might arise that do not fit our leadership style.

This is especially true for the type of industry one is in.

Police officers would be more bureaucratic and authoritative.

Pastors would more likely be affiliative and altruistic.

Yet there will be times where each of them would have to take a different leadership approach.

Maybe the police officer would turn to a more coaching style of leadership during his visit to the orphanage for volunteering.

Maybe the pastor would go for a more innovative style of leadership when organizing a fundraiser.

And in some situations, certain leadership styles cannot be used at all.

If a fire breaks out, no leader in the world should turn to their group and ask for a democratic vote of whether they should escape or try to put out the fire first.

In Conclusion,

Leadership styles should not be firmly fixed for each person.

Instead, we should be flexible and adapt our leadership style based on our situation and the people we work with.

Don’t be locked into one leadership style just because some quiz told you you are a certain type of leader.

And if there are certain aspects of other leadership styles you would like to have, go ahead and practice them.

Everyone should have the freedom to deconstruct and reconstruct themselves into becoming the leader they want to be.

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Xue Zing

Writing about thought provokers that go against conventional self-help