Whether you are a results-orientated leader or a relationship-orientated leader, having a clear understanding of your leadership style is important to improve and develop. It may come as a surprise to some leaders that neither style is truly effective on its own. By finding a balance between both styles, you can become a much more effective leader. This blog post will clarify the difference between the two, guide you through the process of identifying which style aligns with you the most, and offer advice on how to balance both leadership styles effectively.

What is a “results-oriented” leadership style?

A results-oriented leader is one who tends to be decisive and confident in taking charge. They are focused, logical, and organized. Typically, they are task-orientated and will set high expectations for yourself and those around you. They are likely to be confident speaking out and direct with their language. They may be skeptical and challenging at times, and may overlook the feelings of their employees.

What is a “relationship-oriented” leadership style?

A relationship-driven leader is predominantly more concerned with the wellbeing and care of others around them. They tend to be trusting in nature, good listeners, and encouraging and supportive of their employees. Their main focus is on helping others to develop and providing plenty of feedback. Their instructions, however, may be less direct and focused than those of a results-oriented leader.

How to Identify Your Natural Leadership Style

When establishing your natural leadership style, make sure that you are honest and reflect critically on your approach. 

It’s important to remember that neither style is “better.” Both forms of leadership have their strengths, and the key to effective leadership is finding a balance between them both. However, having a clear idea of your natural leadership style will allow you to take steps to improve in weaker areas of your leadership.

One way to do this is to ask your employees and peers about your existing leadership style. You can make this conversation casual or interview them formally, depending on your preferences. You could even set up a survey to gather anonymous feedback.

However you choose to interview your coworkers, building a culture of regular communication will be very important if you want to be a strong leader.

Self-evaluation is also an excellent way to figure out which kind of leader you are. Take some time to reflect on your weaknesses, values, and personality traits. You can even take an online quiz for some basic insight into your leadership style.

Identify Your Employees’ Working Styles

After you have determined your leadership style, it’s important to identify how your employees work as well. Unsurprisingly, your employees are also result- or relationship-oriented. Understanding the working style of your employees will enable you to find out what motivates each one individually.

Results-Driven Employees

Results-driven employees expect managers to lead by example. To feel motivated and trusting in your leadership, they expect you to do your job to the best of your ability while setting high expectations for yourself and them. These employees expect you to lead decisively and clearly. They will be most motivated if you have a clear plan. They will also expect you to follow through and ensure that things get done.

Relationship-Driven Employees

By contrast, relationship-oriented employees are most motivated when they feel that their manager values them. If they know their manager has confidence in them, they will strive to work harder. Relationship-driven employees are more responsive to managers who interact regularly with them and are considerate about their feelings. For such employees, managers need to take time to show these employees that they are cared for and valued. Relationship-driven employees also tend to benefit from regular positive feedback and encouragement.

4 Steps to Balancing Both Leadership Styles

As we’ve said throughout this article, both leadership styles have their strengths and weaknesses. You can improve your leadership style by creating balance between the two by following these four steps.

1. Establish an Environment Where Employees Feel Valued

When establishing a positive employee environment, establish a sense of goodwill with your employees, particularly if you are a more results-orientated leader. A relationship-oriented leader will find this easier. All members of your team, regardless of which category they fall into, will be grateful if you demonstrate that you have their best interests at heart. This can be especially important if you are working on a challenging or stressful project.

Rather than changing your leadership style, making some minor adjustments to your behaviors can have a big impact. Ultimately, it will help your whole team to feel more valued, motivated, and productive.

“One of the most simple and effective strategies you can use to connect with your employees is to give them specific praise,” says Frances Harper, a leadership blogger at Writinity and LastMinuteWriting. “Particularly, when you’re working on a really challenging project or you know an individual employee has found a certain task stressful, be sure to praise them. Regardless of the type of employee they are, they will appreciate having their hard work recognized and acknowledged.”

2. Set Clear Goals and Enforce Them

If you are a results-orientated leader, you regularly establish and review your goals. However, relationship-orientated leaders are often weak in this area, giving rise to doubt in whether or not they can actually deliver the required results.

Whichever style you tend to work in, meeting or exceeding your goals is a key part of being a manager. Your employees need to have full confidence in your ability to lead them and to ultimately be able to achieve the required results.

At the start of a project, set clear goals to review and reinforce during the course of your project. Be direct with all team members about what your expectations and working standards are. If any consequences are put in place to deal with failing working standards, follow-through with them, otherwise your leadership skills will be undermined.

It can be particularly helpful to set daily or weekly goals for individual employees. This allows you to hold employees accountable for completing their work while creating a plan for the team. For those employees who are results-orientated, this will be a welcome structure to work within. For relationship-orientated employees, their individual goal will demonstrate that you have taken their strengths into account.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Assert Your Authority

Relationship-orientated leaders can have a tendency to lack authority or to give instructions which are unclear, whereas results-oriented leaders can give so much instruction that employees feel like they don’t have any autonomy. However friendly you may be, it’s important to remember that you are the person in charge. Your employees are much more likely to respect you and trust in your ability to lead them if you are confident with your instructions.

“Some leaders have a tendency to make instructions sound as if they are requests,” says John Benson, an HR writer at DraftBeyond and Researchpapersuk. “For example, some leaders have a tendency to phrase instructions like, ‘Can you finish that by Friday, please?’ It’s important to be polite and respectful to your employees, but if you are giving them required instructions, rephrase it so that it becomes a clear request with no room for misinterpretation. For instance, frame your request by saying, ‘Please finish the work by Friday.’  Employees appreciate clear, direct instructions.”

Employees will be focused and responsive if you make requests in a way that enables them to fully understand what is required of them. Don’t be afraid to assert your authority when needed, but remember to always be respectful and polite to your employees.

4. Encourage Honest Feedback from Your Team

The only way to truly know if your leadership style is successful is to ask your employees for genuine and honest feedback. Be sure to create opportunities for them to give you feedback on whether or not they think your leadership style is working and what they suggest you should work on.

For them to feel comfortable giving you truly honest feedback, ensure that you actively cultivate an open-door environment. If you want to make employees at ease, provide them with a safe environment.

There are various methods you may want to use to encourage employees to provide feedback. You can ask for feedback in person or, alternatively, you can use a suggestion box and online questionnaires, both of which provide employees with the opportunity to respond anonymously. 

As a leader, it is essential to keep all communication channels open with your employees. This way, you can avoid or quickly resolve personnel issues, effectively support employees who may be struggling, and address any project failures before they happen.

Creating Balance

Regardless of which leadership style you naturally gravitate toward, the key is to create balance. By adopting small changes and developing new skills, you can significantly improve your leadership and inspire trust and confidence from your employees. To be a truly successful leader, balance your organization’s goals with your employees’ individual needs. Take time to assess what motivates each of your employees, set clear goals, and enforce them. Then, regularly review your approach and be responsive to feedback.

Ashley Halsey is a professional writer at Belfast Writing Service and Gum Essays. She has been involved in numerous projects throughout the country, including working with individuals to improve their leadership skills. When not writing, Ashley regularly attends business training courses, where she enjoys staying up-to-date with the latest trends and research. A mother of two children, Ashley enjoys traveling and reading in her spare time.