How to Answer "How Would You Describe Your Leadership Style?"
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated December 13, 2022
Published September 29, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Interviews are essential during your application for a leadership role, and providing thoughtful answers to the questions you are posed is vital to your success. Usually, interviewers ask strategic questions that help them understand your management style. Knowing how to answer the question "How would you describe your leadership style?" is essential to demonstrate why you're suitable for the job and increase your chances of getting a role. In this article, we explain why employers ask about your management style, highlight how to answer the question and provide examples of thoughtful answers to guide you when answering such questions.
Why do employers ask about your management style?
Leadership roles are extremely vital for the success of an organization. Employers look for candidates with exceptional leadership skills and capabilities. Your answers to questions about your leadership style help the interviewer determine if you have the right skill set to be an effective leader in their organization. The interviewer expects you to highlight your preferred methods of collaboration and cooperation, interpersonal skills and understanding of management techniques.
This question extends beyond managerial roles, as hiring managers also look out for leadership capabilities in candidates. You can also encounter this question when interviewing for general roles. Your answer helps the interviewer determine if you can step up and take the initiative in unexpected situations or emergency cases and grow within the company to take up leadership positions.
Related: How to Become a Manager in 6 Steps
How to answer "How would you describe your leadership style?"
Answering the question "How would you describe your leadership style?" requires creativity and forethought, and you can follow these steps to provide an impressive answer:
1. Describe good management
Describing what you believe good management involves offers your interviewer insight into your preferred qualities and values within the workplace. For instance, you can be detail-oriented, feeling a strong need to manage every detail regarding performance. In contrast, you can be result-oriented, focusing on the end goal instead of the necessary steps to achieve these goals. While you might have a preferred management idea, ensure you're flexible in your definition to showcase that you can adapt where the circumstances demand. For instance, you can be result-oriented while adopting a detail-oriented perspective in cases where the department or unit requires it.
Example: "I believe an excellent manager is someone who provides adequate guidance, training and support to the team to ensure they perform optimally. Still, a good manager trusts the team to deliver and provides some form of independence to them in the performance of their duties."
2. Demonstrate how you displayed good management
Demonstrate to your interviewer how you adopted the approach in your professional life. Usually, you don't need to be in a formal leadership position before using specific instances to demonstrate your leadership style. Any leadership activity is relevant as long as you demonstrated impactful leadership. To make your answer more relatable, you can use the STAR interview method. This method allows you to describe the situation, highlight your role and task in that challenge, identify the action or course of action you choose and explain the results you achieved.
Example: "Early in my employment as a member of a tour organization, I received a call from some passengers who had waited for a bus for over an hour. At the time, the manager was taking a break, and I couldn't interfere. Having witnessed the manager resolve similar issues, I used a map and shift schedule to reroute one of our buses to pick the passengers up immediately. The bus got there in under 10 minutes and picked up the passengers. They were grateful for our quick response and left a positive review for the company."
3. Use statistics
Statistics are tools to measure results and impact. For instance, by saying you recorded a 50% increase in user engagement on social media pages, you provide the extent of your impact as a social media manager. You can use these statistics and other data to show the extent of your success when describing your leadership activities. By quantifying your impact, you can provide more insight to the hiring manager about how valuable you can be as a manager or leader.
Example: "In my last role, I was the project manager for a clothing truck fundraiser. Generally, my leadership style involves carrying everyone along in the decision-making process. I had several meetings with the staff where we brainstormed and gathered ideas for the event. They suggested live music, giveaways and multiple locations for the event. Within three months, we had increased attendance by almost 80%."
4. Provide real-life examples that illustrate your leadership style
The best way to show you're adept with leading is to use vivid and specific examples that capture your leadership style. They make your answers impressive and memorable while providing evidence and proof of how you lead teams. Usually, showing your interviewer what you represent rather than telling is the best way to capture their attention, and real-life examples allows you to achieve that.
Example: "I prioritize ensuring everyone has fun in the workplace as my managerial style. I believe when people are comfortable, they can be more productive. For instance, when I led the organizing committee for teacher's training, I wanted it to be interactive without feeling like a burden. In turn, I incorporated games and prizes to spur interest in the training. As a result, everyone enjoyed themselves, and I was subsequently elected to manage all training sessions throughout the year."
Example answers to questions about your leadership style
Here are some sample answers to the question that can guide you toward an impressive and thoughtful answer:
Example answer to show managerial qualities if you have never held an official leadership or managerial position
Here is an example of an answer to showcase your managerial qualities irrespective of the absence of official managerial positions:
"My managerial style prioritizes providing an enabling environment to ensure everyone can produce their best work. In one of my roles as an administrative officer for an engineering firm, there are times when I've had to assume leadership responsibilities. Every morning, I ensure I review every employee's schedule and resolve existing conflicts. I also monitor the supply for the whole office and attend to special requests from other employees. In addition, I regularly take messages and forward calls as the need arises.
My administrative help ensures every member of the firm can function optimally. Later, the company opened two branches to extend its activities further. As a result of my performance, I became the group administrative officer tasked with training other administrative assistants in all branches to ensure they can perform optimally."
Example answer to show managerial qualities if you have limited experience in official managerial or leadership positions
Here is an example of an answer to showcase your managerial qualities when you have little experience in official managerial positions:
"I prioritize clear expectations and structure for my students, department heads, and myself. I believe it ensures everyone is aware of their role and how they can contribute to the team's overall success. It also ensures every member of the team can take responsibility for their action. For instance, I once assumed the role of assistant principal when the assistant principal was on leave. I immediately informed every member of the team before my resumption about my expectations and my likely activities.
Upon resuming, I held grade-level meetings every week to identify our weekly goals and what we required to achieve them. I ensured we documented everything for ease of reference. We also sorted our activities based on priority. I ensured I was available for every team member, which allowed us to record a 27% increase in productivity."
Example answer to show managerial qualities if you have considerable experience in official managerial or leadership positions
Here is an example of an answer to showcase your managerial qualities when you have significant experience in official managerial positions:
"My managerial style is generally democratic, as I believe teams function efficiently and optimally when everyone contributes and feels responsible for the organization's success. Recently, my department got an award to design the patient wing of a hospital with a $40,000 budget. I attended the client meeting with six of my designers and architects to clarify every issue and better understand the client's needs. Afterwards, we distributed the tasks among department members based on their strengths, and I monitored everyone to ensure they performed their role.
Subsequently, we had two more meetings, one when the project was halfway done and later to finalize our exhibition to our client. Of course, I ensured the team members had adequate independence in the performance of their duties. This encouraged their creativity, as they felt valued and appreciated. As a result, we were able to complete the tasks within the deadline and record 98% client satisfaction."
Now that you've reviewed the tips in this article and the example interview questions, you can be confident in preparing an impressive answer to the question "How would you describe your leadership style?"
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