Are Your Leadership Skills Stuck in the Past?

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What kind of leader are you? The two extremes are as far apart as east from west. The old-school "top dog" approach was prevalent during the 1950s and 1960s. In this "top dog" scenario, men (and women) worked hard with the promise of becoming "top dog." And yet, many aspiring top dogs were often disappointed as they watched someone else work up through the ranks and proceed to take the credit for their own hard work.

Or the opposite approach, known as "the unleader" (according to Entrepreneur magazine), which peaked in the late 1990s, in which the goal was to make employees as comfortable as possible, so that nothing was achieved until everyone agreed. Of course, this approach didn't really work either, and most companies headed by unleaders quickly went belly up.

So, which leadership style are you most like?

Do you think you are too carefree or too controlling? Are you looking for a happy medium?

The new leader, again according to Entrepreneur magazine, has four telltale characteristics:

1. If you're easygoing and tend to let your employees self-manage, maybe you should get a bit more hands on. Employees do want direction, whether or not everyone agrees with it. However, don't go too far and micro-manage. Give direction and then let your employees act in confidence with that direction.

2. Define work roles. If you tend to be more of a top dog leader, make sure everyone in your organization knows they have a role to play. And perhaps, let someone else take credit when they do their jobs well.

3. Make sure people know you're in control. If you're more of a laidback boss, not afraid of others who can oversee your employees, perhaps you need to assert yourself more. Too many leaders in one company or department can ruin performance and important projects. Make sure you are the person they think of when they think "boss."

4. Never stop educating yourself. Leadership is an ongoing learning experience, as many managers and CEOs will attest. Don't think you've already reached your pinnacle just because things are going well. And when things aren't going well, find good resources and good advice and use it.

If you're a leader who tends toward one extreme or the other, moving more the middle in any of these areas can lend itself to improved employee morale, a better working environment, and hopefully, increased profits.