What sort of leader are you?

Deborah Weston

So what sort of leader are you?

Before you begin working as a middle leader, you might find it helpful to identify your own preferred leadership style. One means of achieving this is to take part in a 180° or 360° assessment where you ask a number of people who work with you to anonymously answer questions about how you work. In a 180° assessment the respondents are usually people who you line manage, whereas a 360° assessment would also include your peers and your line manager(s).

Direction-1.jpg Another tool that many people find useful is one of the questionnaires developed by Dr Meredith Belbin. This exercise helps identify your preferred role in a team and was developed by Belbin and his team in the 1980s. Belbin characterised a team role as, “a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way” (Belbin, 1981). You can complete this exercise by clicking here and analyse the results by clicking here.

You will discover that according to Belbin’s theory, at the current time, you may have one or more preferred team role(s). These are:

  • implementer
  • co-ordinator
  • shaper
  • plant
  • resource investigator
  • monitor evaluator
  • team worker
  • completer finisher.

More recently Belbin has added another role; the specialist. Watch a short flash introduction to Belbin Team Roles by clicking here and read in more depth about individual roles and how understanding them can help strengthen the team by clicking here. You might find it useful to read a definition of the terms introvert and extrovert before you begin to avoid common misunderstandings about these words.

Some people find that they have one dominant role identified by a score that is far higher than any other. Other people find that there are two or three roles for which they score equally. It is worth recognising that this is a very simple version of the exercise and that other versions exist with hundreds of questions requiring many hours to complete. It is also interesting that people who have completed the exercise at different points in their careers or when they are in a different post, often find the results suggest their preferred team role may change in different circumstances and/or over time.

Now consider the impact of these results for the way you conduct yourself in your current post. Complete this reflective exercise using one or more of your preferred team roles. An example has been provided: A blank version of this document can also be downloaded. Leadership_style.doc

Preferred team role In which situation might you adopt this role What benefits might adopting this role have in this situation? What drawbacks might it have? How could you make this role more effective in this situation?
e.g. completer-finisher In a departmental meeting

the items on the agenda will dealt with efficiently

the meeting will run to time

information provided will be detailed

the tasks will be completed

Items may be rushed and not fully discussed

some members of the team may feel unable to contribute

opportunities may be missed to delegate and to allow members of the team to learn by taking responsibility for certain tasks

do not rush meetings

ensure that members of the team are encouraged to make contributions to the discussion

sum up all contributions and check for accuracy before moving to the next item on the agenda

ask people to suggest and/or lead discussion on agenda items

delegate responsibly but offer support where necessary