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Leadership success a matter of ‘style’

"Leadership is the ability to see a problem and be the solution -- but you have to get that solution done through other people," Amy Alt, senior category account executive, Procter & Gamble, told online attendees during the NEW Leadership Academy webinar, Dec. 8, 2016.

Alt joined NEW Board Chair Karen Stuckey, senior vice president, private brands, general merchandise, Walmart U.S., to explore effective communication and work and decision-making styles during "It's All About Styles," facilitated by session leader Jo Miller, CEO of Women's Leadership Coaching.

To be most effective, leaders must move from being a transactional leader — authoritative, directive and technical — to a transformational leader – strategic, collaborative and sharing a vision, Stuckey said.

For both leaders, navigating different communication styles is essential for successful performance. "Get to know individuals and empower in the process," Alt advised. "Build a safe environment."

Stuckey recommends transparency. "Simply repeating why you're right will never get you to 'Yes.’"

Making fast decisions with little information may require "speed-reading” other people. For Alt, doing so is not about manipulation or wooing others. "It's really about building your intuition, agility and having empathy for others."

Changing demographics requires leaders to evolve. "If you are not evolving, you may not be growing," Stuckey said. "A leader should have a bias for early embrace of change. This is a matter of thriving or moving towards obsolescence."

Decision-making styles vary between individuals and situations. In addition to assessing risk-level and reversibility of a situation, leaders should understand others' styles and prepare for them. Alt urges emerging leaders to ask themselves: "How do you use your intuition as well as the people and resources you have to make that decision the right way?"

To create and support an inclusive workplace, women and men need to develop a transformational style of leadership, Stuckey emphasized. "Understanding your style, and being an active listener to watch and understand other styles, will be very important in that journey.”

Alt defines leadership as the ability to help people achieve things they didn't think were possible. "It's really around a shared vision, creating an environment where people feel valued and fulfilled — no matter their style."