How to Discover Your Leadership Style & Leverage It to Build Your Dream Team

Leadership doesn’t begin the day you send your first offer letter. Your leadership currently and already exists within you. Are you tapping into it? Stretching it? Growing it? Strengthening it for that moment you expand your influence to a team? For entrepreneurs, going from solopreneur to team leader is an exciting milestone. The first step into team building is a season of expansion, opportunity and growth. We cast vision, draw up an organizational chart and dive headlong into creating job postings as we’re brimming with optimism, hope and a pinch of, “can I do this?”

Creating opportunities for others to pursue purpose and meaningful work is one of the most beautiful gifts an entrepreneur can give this world. However, too many business owners aren’t fully prepared for the responsibility that comes with the privilege of leadership on the other side of hiring.

Most entrepreneurs wait to prioritize leadership growth until after their team fills out, (if even then), once they begin to feel the growing pains of a dysfunctional team. But, this misstep can be avoided and its effects eliminated when entrepreneurs prioritize their leadership development, discovering and leveraging their unique leadership style well before that first hire says, “I’m in!”

The truth is, the team of your dreams deserves the leader of theirs and they won’t accept anything less.

Here’s how to discover, own and lean into your unique leadership style so you can leverage it as you build your dream team and serve your hires with the leadership you always craved!

Ask Yourself: Why Do Leaders Exist?

Your answer to this question will reveal a lot about your motivations, your expectations for your team and how you work in a team setting. See, at the very human core of it, leaders drive our collective evolution. On a more philosophical level, leaders exist to usher us into our brighter future, a new and better reality. The same applies to your leadership even within the context of your business.

Four Must-Know Reasons Why Leaders Are Needed

  1. Leaders are the ones tasked with straddling two realities – both the future and the present. They’re the ones called to see, capture and communicate a vision – or a depiction of a future, better reality. 
  2. Leaders must be the ones who are responsible for bringing the collective, the team, efficiently and effectively into that better tomorrow.
  3. Leaders are the ones who can perceive opportunity, understand and evaluate risks and influence a group of people to move out of their comfort zones. 
  4. No matter what your skills or traits are, you are a leader if you can see a vision for a better tomorrow if you’re not okay with settling for the status quo and if you’re dedicated to using your strengths to work with others to strategize & enact action to bring it about. 

Pro Tip: Leaders do all this by utilizing and leveraging their unique leadership styles!

Embrace Your Leadership Style and Empower Your Team:

Your leadership style is the external manifestation of your beliefs and values, the outward expression of what you believe to be true about human nature and what you believe to be true about the purpose of work.

Your style is a conglomeration of your behaviors and actions when you’re guiding a group of people toward a common goal. It completely sets the tone and guides the culture of your team by seeping into how you build relationships, communicate and serve others.

Our styles are so dynamic because they’re built within our subconscious and are realized by our actions and behaviors. There are many different categories of styles and if you do an internet search you’ll find that some of these general styles feel in alignment with you. 

The thing is, every unique style is different because every human is different. Just like no two Enneagram archetypes are the same. There are similarities as well as differences even within archetypes because our environments, education, experiences, worldviews, beliefs, values and expectations that frame our personalities are so varied. 

Your style is your own. You can define leadership for yourself, evolve into who you want to be and the kind of leader you want to be, as well as take control of the roots of your style and shape it intentionally. 

What Makes Up our Leadership Style?

Let’s dig into some of the components I believe come together to create our styles – or, simply, our behaviors when in a leadership role. They are, our philosophy, strengths and weaknesses, communication styles and our motivation and inner/outer expectations. 

Of course, there are a million different tests that you can take to learn more about yourself in each of these areas, but I urge you to refrain from diving into personality or strengths tests until you’ve done this work yourself. 

This process is about becoming self-aware and that’s a muscle you have to strengthen and a practice you must cultivate. Tests give you a set of answers that ring true but frame your perception of yourself, instead of supporting your research. 

Leadership Philosophy: Your answer to the questions, “Why do leaders exist?”; “Why are leaders needed?”; and “Why am I destined to lead?” shape your leadership philosophy, or, your systematic approach to leadership.

Your leadership philosophy is also built on your perception of work and your thoughts on how humans relate to work. See, leaders only exist where work needs to be done. What do you think this says about humans and work? 

Evolutionarily, there may be certain hard and fast answers to these questions, but none of that matters. What matters here is what you believe to be true – because what you believe becomes what you think, what you think becomes how you act and how you act creates the world you live in. 

Leadership Styles that Will Inspire Your Team

  • Strengths and Weaknesses: These are more than your skills or talents. Your strengths are what you naturally and consistently bring to any table, what brings you joy, what challenges you and what ignites your curiosity. Your weaknesses are often the shadow side of those strengths, manifested when your strengths become worn or overpowering when untamed or uncontrolled. 
  • Communication Style: Do you tend to be more assertive, to the point and sometimes blunt, or do you tend to avoid what you perceive as confrontation? Are you more passive, letting others lead the conversation, or do you take the reins? Or, does your communication style adjust in different kinds of situations?
  • Motivation: What is the driving force behind your leadership? Behind your work? Behind your reason for leading others? What keeps you going? 
  • Inner Expectations: What standards do you strive to uphold? In what instances are you proud of yourself? When do you typically become disappointed in yourself?
  • Outer Expectations: What do you generally expect of others? What characteristics in others tend to rub you the wrong way? What characteristics do you value in others? Generally, in what instances do you find yourself disappointed in others?

How to Discover Your Leadership Style

Discovering, owning and growing in your leadership style is a journey characterized by three distinct phases. It’s important to note that these phases are circular and should be repeated indefinitely as a part of your leadership growth journey!

  1. Self Reflection and Study. Begin to look at the way you show up. What comes naturally? What do you enjoy and when are the times when you get lost in flow? What strengths are you utilizing? What zones of genius are you working in; and what powers are you wielding?
  2. Talk to Loved Ones and Friends. Interview others who are close to you! Ask them what they see in you – what strengths do they appreciate about you and what problems do they typically see you as a resource for solving?
  3. Now, Use Tests! Once you’ve done your research and compiled a list of what you see in yourself, then utilize tests to support your discovery journey!
  4. Begin again – this process should never end!

Pro Tip: Keep an open document as you journey through this self-discovery process and start to review and reflect on what you’ve found. Go through your discoveries and identify common themes – what do you and others continually see in you? What are some specific examples of these themes manifested in action? And, what are your interpretations of these themes? 

Leverage Your Leadership Style to Build Your Dream Team

When building our team, we are seeking to find and connect with individuals who will flourish in the role and under our style of leadership. When we find hires who meet those standards, we can be confident they’ll also flourish in the culture of the team as a leader in its community. 

To do that, we must weave our leadership style into our interview, onboarding and support processes with new team members. That way, we use our leadership to provide a taste of our community culture, effectively integrate new hires onto the team and set expectations for communication, growth and support throughout the partnership!

  • In the interview process: Use your style to attract those who respond to your influence by sharing about your company’s core values, vision and mission and by getting curious. Ask your candidate how they feel best supported in a team environment, what kinds of leadership they’ve flourished under in the past, what kind of team they’re craving in this season and what their core values are. 
  • In the onboarding process: Showcase your team culture and set relational expectations by using HoneyBook’s brochure templates to create a Company Overview Brochure! Also, host a “Vision Casting Chat” on your new hire’s first day in which you share your vision for them in this role and invite them to share their vision for their growth in the role. Seek to learn more about their goals, dreams and desires for their success so you can inform how you can use your leadership style and strengths to help them learn, grow and succeed.
  • In the coaching process: We should be hosting feedback and coaching sessions monthly through the first 90 days of onboarding as well as quarterly (at a minimum) thereafter. During these sessions, check in on your hire’s progression toward their communicated picture of success and provide support in line with your strengths. Coaching is a conversation between equals and is about curiosity and asking questions to understand goals and turn them into focused action. Release any inner expectations to be the “perfect” leader who knows every answer. Use your strengths to serve and support!

Next Steps

Your next step toward stepping into your leadership and building your dream team is to cast an informed, strategic vision for your company, your role as CEO and your team – and I have a free resource to help you do just that!

Grab my free team-building workshop, Solo to Team Leader: 3 Things to Get Right as You Build Your Dream Team. In this training, you’ll learn to hire the right people and build your team with confidence, direction and clarity so you can avoid the costly hiring spiral so many entrepreneurs fall into each day.

Kaylan Thompson

Kaylan Thompson is a Hiring & Leadership coach, speaker and educator helping entrepreneurs deepen their leadership so they can build, lead and coach their dream teams. She's the host of the Joy to Lead® Podcast and founder and lead educator of the Joy to Lead® Leadership Academy program. She believes the teams of our dreams deserve the leader of theirs and strives to teach business owners how to hire, manage and lead the teams they've always dreamed of.