Leadership is an essential part of our lives, even more so regarding some critical roles in organizations. Suppose you’re looking for a new job or seeking a promotion. In that case, you’ll very likely encounter an interview question asking about your leadership style.
This question usually sets a lot of interviewees back, with many people struggling to understand or put together their leadership style when asked during an interview. This anxiety is common to most challenging interview questions, especially those without a clear answer. People are even more confused about choosing the answer without a go-to response as doubts creep into their minds.
If you must answer a question about your leadership style, you must first understand yourself and the job position. In this guide, we’ll be looking at how to answer “what is your leadership style?” Not only answering this question but doing it in a way that will improve your chances of getting hired by taking you to the front of the queue.
Before we talk about answering questions about your leadership style in an interview, we must know why interviewers ask the question in the first place.
Why Recruiters Ask About Your Leadership Style?
Questions like this may make it seem like recruiters ask personal or unrelated questions, but this is not so. The question aligns with the interview and reveals much about you and how you fit the role.
So, why ask about your leadership style? Recruiters will typically ask the question in a leadership role interview. They want to know what leadership means to you and how you see it—basically, your thought process in a leadership situation. The question is not limited to leadership roles only, as recruiters can ask about your leadership style for a non-leadership role with potential for promotion.
If you want to get an idea of how well a person would fit into a position, an excellent place to start is by looking at their leadership style and matching it with what the company wants. Interviewers want to know how well you will fit into the role and the organization at large, and this is one of the reasons they ask about your leadership style. Suppose your leadership style is tailored for large companies and you’re applying for a role in a small startup needing a strategic leader. In that case, you may not be a good fit for the position.
Understanding why recruiters ask you this question will make it easier for you to answer the question the right way as you’ll be considering the reasons as you put forward your answer.
Different Types of Leadership Styles
There are so many leadership styles you can practice but let’s look at some of the most common types and what they mean.
- Transformational style: This is a style of leadership that tries to inspire a positive change in people. This style is more effective in a small team as its effect is felt even more.
- Cooperative style: In this leadership style, the leader utilizes the whole team’s input when making decisions. It is an inclusive style of leadership that fosters a sense of belonging.
- Delegative style: It is closely related to the cooperative kind of leadership. It requires input from many, but this time not in decision-making but with tasks. The leader shares duties among members while overseeing them.
- Commanding style: The style is for leadership that maintain close control of what the members are doing, albeit without being overbearing.
- Transactional style: Here, the leader uses a system of rewards and punishment to inspire and keep members in line.
With these leadership styles, you can decide which one best suits you and is the most suitable for the role.
How to Answer “What is Your Leadership Style?”
Okay, you now know why recruiters are asking about your leadership style in an interview and some types of leadership styles, then what? The next thing is knowing how you can answer this question the best way to get hired.
Before we get started, bear in mind that there is no right and wrong answer to this question since it is an open-ended question that allows you to drift in many directions. Even though there are no right or wrong answers, more suitable replies will propel you further. Let’s look at how to come up with these practical answers.
The second part deals more with articulating your answer and showing how this leadership style works. These two parts are the basis of answering a leadership style question. Your answer will usually explain your leadership style and back it up with proof from an experience or skill acquired. However, there are other things involved and steps to follow in coming up with an answer with these parts.
Consider What the Role may Require?
Before you start answering the question, you need to consider the role and the organization at large. What type of leadership will it require? Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all here; you want to get a general idea of the type of leadership that the recruiters and the role requires.
Knowing the style of leadership that the role or company requires will help you tailor your reply to something suitable.
You can know the leadership style required by researching the company, the role, and similar roles in other organizations.
Choose a Leadership Style
Selecting a leadership style with the leadership style the role requires will put you in a great place and increase your chances of getting hired.
Select a style that fits you and your ideology when it comes to leadership; make sure to tailor this style to match what is required for the role. These two factors are the bedrock to a solid answer as you do not want to mention a type that is a far cry to the required leadership method or mention a related technique that does not fit you.
It would help if you mentioned a style you have some experience with or can prove in any way. Selecting any type that comes to your head at the moment wouldn’t do you any good when you start explaining, and you’ll see why in our next point.
Suppose you do not select a leadership style that fits you and how you see leadership because you want to present a fascinating answer. In that case, you will not be able to back it up with proof. The proof here are examples of real-life scenarios of how you’ve applied that leadership skill.
Cite examples of instances you’ve applied your leadership style and the results you got. Be specific as possible as it shows genuinity and paints a clearer picture of the scenario for the interviewer.
Citing examples is where it gets challenging for many people as they can’t seem to wrap their heads around a specific scenario. This is mostly because they are limiting their time frame and methods. You can go as far back as your high school football team and how you were the team captain then.
Show How It was Valuable?
You want to show how the leadership skill worked in your example. Explain its value and why you feel it works for you and will work for the role. Remember, everything is about landing the job, so tailoring your style back to the position’s requirements is an excellent way to position yourself.
What not to Say When Asked, “What is Your Leadership Style?”
Some things are not only unnecessary in your reply but can also spoil your chances of getting hired. You want to avoid mentioning these things when replying to the question. But what are these things you shouldn’t say?
- Do not say you’ve never led before: It might be tempting to say, “oh, I’ve never been a leader, and so I have no leadership style.” Not only is this untrue, as we’ve all had a couple of instances where we’ve led even though it is not in an official work environment, but it will also harm your chances of getting the job. Dig deep and come up with something
- Avoid instances that make you seem like an overbearing leader: No one seems to want a rigid and autocratic leader as it creates tension. You do not want to mention instances that make you seem like this type of leader, as it mostly likely will reduce your chances.
Examples of Answers to “What is Your Leadership Style?”
If you’re looking for a template to plug in your style quickly and easily, you’re in the right place. We’ll look at a couple of examples you can use when replying to a leadership style question.
“I utilize a delegative style of leadership. In my last role, I assigned roles to team members according to their strengths which I’ve observed and discussed with the team. By sharing these roles, we were able to have our best hands handling the various tasks and getting incredible results.”
“I would say my leadership style is transformational as I strive to inspire my team. I always see myself as a motivator who can help people become better versions of themselves. It shows in how I lead. We got assigned a new deadline with a short time frame; it didn’t seem like we would hit our target. I inspired a new level of cooperation and commitment from the members and got us over the line with time to spare. This leadership style not only gets the job done but leaves better people at the end.”
There are so many leadership styles practiced today, all of them having their most suitable use cases. Your job is to find the most ideal for the role and the most closely related to your style that you can prove.
You will be one step closer to your dream job once you can answer the leadership style question with this in mind.