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How To Answer “What Is Your Leadership Style?” (Interview Question)

If the hiring manager is asking you this question in an interview, it means they care about your leadership ability and are likely using it as a factor in deciding who to hire.

So it is necessary that you properly understand how best to tackle this question ahead of time.

In this article, I will walk you through everything including the different leadership styles and how best to answer this question with sample answers.

Let’s get started…

Why Hiring Managers Ask, “What Is Your Leadership Style?”

When they ask about your leadership style, interviewers are looking for an answer that outlines how your work style and level of ambition will benefit the company. 

Even if you are applying for a non-managerial position, your response should show that you can take the initiative and get things done on your own when necessary.

But before we answer this question, let’s look at the different leadership styles that can motivate your employees and suit your goals.

Different Leadership Styles To Motivate Your Employees

Here are some popular leadership styles managers use to motivate their employees:

Autocratic Leadership Style

Having an autocratic leadership style means that you make decisions with little or no input from your team members. 

An autocratic leader acts solely on their own ideas and never listens to the opinions of their team members. 

They also issue orders and expect their members to obey without asking questions. 

Usually, successful leaders avoid this style of leadership.

That said, there are some situations where this leadership style may be helpful. 

For example, if all your team members are inexperienced in an area that needs urgent decision-making. 

In such a case, you can make a decision without asking for their opinion.

Democratic Leadership Styles

A democratic leader never makes significant decisions without seeking the opinions of their co-workers. 

They also always reveal information to their team members about company decisions that affect them. 

If you constantly ask every team member, “What do you think?” during team projects, you are probably a democratic leader.

The democratic style of leadership has several benefits. Some of them are:

It encourages team members to be creative and invest in personal development. 

When you are always willing to hear what your co-workers have to say, they will strive to deliver valuable opinions.

It fosters cooperation and trust among team members.

It helps team members build their confidence.

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Laissez-Faire Leadership Style

The laissez-faire style is the extreme opposite of the autocratic style. 

A laissez-faire leader lets team members do what they want without supervision. Of course, this leadership style provides opportunities for workers to learn and develop their skills. 

However, laissez-faire leaders risk appearing indifferent about their work.

The only time you should use this leadership style is when you have highly experienced and responsible team members who have a history of excellent performance. 

Pacesetter Leadership Style

The pacesetter leader sets the standard for hard work and excellence, and motivates team members to meet or surpass the benchmark. 

Employees who work under this type of leader may end up competing to impress their leader. 

Using this leadership style will only suit you if your team is filled with people who have as much energy as you do.

While the pacesetter style may be effective in pushing members to improve their work, it can promote competition and lead to enmity between members. 

In addition, members may feel stressed because of the pressure to beat arbitrary standards. 

If you are a habitual pacesetter, you can organize weekend retreats to help your co-workers relieve stress.

Coaching Leadership Style

A leader who uses the coaching style invests most of their time in developing employees’ talent. 

They complete team projects by delegating constituent tasks and providing some direction to their team members. 

This style of leadership helps workers discover their potential with a bit of help from their leaders.

Authoritative Leadership Style

Authoritative leaders advise their team members on what to do while giving detailed explanations. 

They should not be confused with autocratic leaders. 

Unlike autocratic leaders, the followers of authoritative leaders listen to them because they believe in them and agree with their opinion. 

In contrast, people who work under autocratic leaders listen because they have no other choice.

When their employees are confused, authoritative leaders remind their co-workers of the company’s vision and nudge them on the right path. 

Of all the leadership types, the workers under this leader are least likely to make mistakes.

Affiliative Leadership Style

The easiest way to think of this leadership style is the phrase ‘People come first.’ 

This type of a leader considers the emotional needs of their team members before making any decisions. 

They always strive to bring their coworkers together, rather than pulling them apart.

Affiliative leaders avoid favoritism. Instead, they ensure that every member of the team enjoys similar benefits, depending on their experience levels. 

This leadership style promotes harmony and avoids conflicts among team members.

Procedural Leadership Style

A procedural leader does things by the book. 

They prefer to stick to methods that are tested and trusted, rather than trying out new ways. 

They are detail-oriented, as they often choose to analyze the problem in a situation before taking action. 

Creative team members may find it challenging to work under procedural leaders because they are resistant to change.

One merit of the procedural leadership style is that it helps employees cultivate discipline by sticking to rules. 

However, working under this kind of leader may feel monotonous. 

If you think you are a procedural leader, practice using different methods to execute tasks for a change.

3 Steps To Answering, “What Is Your Leadership Style?

Since we know that the hiring manager is asking this question just to know how you will lead an organization and most importantly how comfortable you are while doing it.

So there is a need to show them you’re confident when leading and that you’ve done it before.

Having said this, let’s take a look at the 3 steps that will aid you in answering this question.

1. Don’t Say You Have Never Led Anyone

It is important that you pick your most impressive leadership experiences as you think back while trying to come up with an answer.

It might be on a sports team, in a class project, or in previous jobs.

But whatever answer you come up with, don’t answer this interview question by mere saying, “I’m not really a leader”, or “I’m not sure, I’ve never really led people in the past”.

That can serve as a turn off to a hiring manager. So do well to find something to say no matter what if you really desire and want to get hired.

2. Share Specific Examples If Possible

After you answer the basic question and describe your general style of leadership.

I will highly recommend that you ask the hiring manager if they want you to go into more detail about your answer.

You can start off like this, “do you want me to give an example of a time I’ve done this?”

They’ll probably say “yes”, and if they do, you can tell them a specific story.

It is always best to ask rather than diving into a super long answer when they might be looking for a quick response. 

It also prevents you from annoying the interviewer or giving answers that are too long.

If they request for a further explanation, you can talk about how you used your leadership ability to make a past project a success. 

Also state the final result and how it helped your company to make money or save money etc.

3. Sound Like You Have A Method Or System That Works For You

When it comes to answering this question, There’s no single right or wrong response but the hiring manager wants to know you have a system that works for you.

So when they ask, “what’s your leadership style?”, they want to hear that you’ve figured out something that consistently works when you’re put in a position to lead.

And you need to sound somewhat reasonable and easy to get along with.

Don’t make yourself sound like a dictator or somebody who leads by bossing everyone around. 

Such an attitude wouldn’t get you hired.

Samples On How To Describe Your Leadership Style

Now that you know the 3 steps to answer, “what is your leadership style,” 

We will go through some few word to word examples and phrases on how to describe your style of leading.

These will go a long way in making you sound great to an interviewer. 

Common Leadership Styles:

Lead By Example: 

“I like to lead by example. I lead from the front by taking action, demonstrating what needs to be done, and keeping my team organized to make sure we’re all on the same page and contributing equally.”

Lead By Facilitating Communication: 

“Communication is one of my greatest strengths. I lead by facilitating open communication, and trying to bring out the best in every team member”.

Lead By Delegating And Making Others Better: 

“I’m great at delegating and finding the strengths of other team members. I try to give each person a chance to do what they’re best at and create a team effort that delivers a result that’s greater than the sum of its parts”

Furthermore, If you are finding it difficult to come up with your leadership style.

Here’s a trick that can help you:

Ask people who know you, your parents, friends, other family, classmates, etc. 

People you’ve been on sports teams with, on class projects with, or worked with.

Inquire from them how they will describe your leadership, and try to notice a few themes that multiple people repeat.

If you follow the steps above, you should be able to give a great answer when they ask about your leadership style of leadership free experiences in any interview.

“What Is Your Leadership Style?” Sample Answers

Sample Answer 1:

“I would describe my leadership style as direct, and leading by example. I enjoy delegating tasks and taking the lead on projects, but I also like to stay involved and inspire my team by showing that I’m working hands-on to help them, too. 

For example, in my last job, we had an emergency situation where a client’s website went down. I quickly delegated tasks to my team of 4, but then got on the phone with the client myself to find out more information for my team and give the client temporary steps they could take to make the issue less costly while we came up with a permanent solution. 

When my team saw me working hard to fix this, it made them realize the importance of the issue and work hard as well.”

Sample Answer 2:

“I think my strengths as a leader are effective delegation and communication. So my leadership style takes advantage of those strengths. I always try to delegate tasks to whoever is best-equipped to perform well in the task, and I try to communicate clearly about what needs to be done, and why. 

This eliminates back-and-forth, mistakes, and the need to re-do tasks. Taking more time to communicate effectively at the beginning of the project, and delegating properly, both end up saving time as a project advances.”

Conclusion

If you follow the advice which I have provided above and make your answer sound like these examples, you will not only impress the interviewer but you will be rest assured of an employment.

Nevertheless, make sure you practice your answer so that you can sound so sure of yourself when you are answering the question, “what is your leadership style?”.

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