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What Type of Leader Are You?

Sep 8, 2021
Vanderbilt Executive Education Director Jon Lehman discusses leadership styles, successful leadership qualities, and more

By Arial Starks

When looking to expand your skill set through executive education programs, one of the soft skills professionals often want to develop is leadership. Executive education can teach you the skills required to be an effective leader, but it is up to you to decide what type of leader you want to be in your organization. We sat down with Jon Lehman, Director, Executive Education at Vanderbilt, who explained different types of leadership and what makes a leader successful.

What are the different styles of leadership? 

There are many different styles of leadership in the business world, as well as different stages of leadership. For instance, a “democratic leader,” Lehman explains, is someone who runs a business like a democracy. With democratic leadership, members of an organization have a say in decision-making and are encouraged to let their voices be heard. Democratic leaders often strive for consensus. Conversely, an “autocratic leader” makes all of the decisions, and members of the organization get little input. This style of leadership might be best-suited in a turnaround, where timely decisions may dictate ultimate survival. The efficacy of a style depends on the culture and stage of growth of a company.

“I think that people who fit well with the task at hand are going to be the most effective,” said Lehman.

What are the qualities of a successful leader? 

Successful leaders are often measured by qualities such as likeability, trustworthiness, and authenticity. Lehman referred to Lominger’s Leadership Competencies, which cite 67 different leadership traits. The most successful leaders demonstrate 3 important traits: creating the new and different; figuring out how to get it done; and engaging others to help get it done. A successful leader is someone who can create a task, figure out a plan to get a task completed, and then motivate and encourage a team to get the task to the finish line.

Lehman notes that people come with their own sets of experiences – education, experience, family, and values – that inform the choices they make as leaders. “Skills associated with those choices can be further honed,” he says.

What type of leader are you?

Jon Lehman

Self-awareness is a critical component of successful leadership, and one that isn’t just developed based on personal experience. “I think the ability to recognize one’s strengths and weaknesses, address the strengths, and build a team that puts team members in a position to be successful, can also be learned,” says Lehman.

What Will Executive Education Teach Me About Leadership? 

Executive education programs offer substantial opportunities for professionals from all experience levels to learn the hard and soft skills that great leaders possess. At Vanderbilt Executive Education, many programs include assessments that help participants understand how they are perceived by team members, which will aid in them figuring out what type of leader they are.

Lehman says an essential part of understanding yourself and what type of leader you are is by understanding how others see you, through self- and peer-assessments, which are often incorporated into Vanderbilt’s programs. Vanderbilt Executive Education also offers programs that will teach you how to strategize against your competition, sharpen your marketing and operations skills, and how to coach and motivate people.

“Taking our courses gives you rocket fuel,” says Lehman. “It changes the trajectory of someone’s career. You can learn through trial and error, and your career trajectory will follow one slope, but if you can get help and really work on the things that are going to matter, you can change the slope of that curve,” said Lehman.

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