Is Your Leadership Style Hindering Your Team?

There are two leadership styles we often see: Coerce & Compel or Wait & See. While not all leaders identify all the time with one of these styles, most tend to sway a bit more towards one or the other. Which one are you?

Both of these styles have their advantages and disadvantages, but the job of a good leader is to adapt their style to what people in their team need to drive results for the business. Adjusting your style to fit the needs of your team helps others take accountability for progress towards reaching goals.

If you’re struggling to choose which style you lean towards, ask yourself, “How would my team generally describe my leadership style?” Understanding which style you naturally prefer and the benefits of each gives you the insight to identify and adapt your style to fit the needs of your team.

Leadership Style 1: Coerce & Compel 

Coerce & Compel tends to be the leadership style you think of when you imagine a fierce, headstrong leader. This type of leader is quick to make a plan, communicate that plan, and execute on delivering results.

This leader leaves no room for unmet expectations; however, they also overwork themselves to solve everything without input from their team. They get the job done, but they need to get it done every time—not allowing their team to own their work and grow as employees.

Leaders who operate under Coerce & Compel remain agile in the face of disruption. Steamrolling over their teams, however, could cost valuable input and additional ideas to innovate.


  • Persistent follow-up
  • Ensures reporting
  • High expectations
  • Action-oriented


  • Intimidating
  • Not trusting
  • Overreacts
  • Impatient

Leadership Style 2: Wait & See

From the outside, others might view leaders who operate under Wait & See as unreliable, even lazy. However, this leader chooses to build loyalty and trust within their workforce by giving their employees the platform to share their perspectives for reaching results. While it may take longer to develop and execute project plans, they are usually done thoughtfully and gain buy-in from the whole team.

Leaders who practice Wait & See tend to be great coaches and mentors. Employees are allowed to develop their skills and grow in their career, but this might be a hinderance when faced with disruption.


  • Trusting
  • Builds loyalty
  • Provides support
  • Develops others


  • Not enough follow-up
  • Low expectations
  • Avoids confrontation
  • Not decisive

Creating the Right Leadership Style for Your Team 

Once you know which leadership style you prefer, it’s easier to identify the actions that sway you in that general direction.

As a leader, you will deal with many different types of employees and situations that need solving. Your job is to identify which leadership style is needed to best approach the challenge, and then adapt to work with those skills to reach results. A new-hired employee fresh out of college might need a more Coerce & Compel approach while finding Wait & See moments to weave into daily work so they can develop new skills.

In the face of disruption, it’s important for leaders to take a moment to practice a Wait & See leadership style. Leaders need to first listen to their employees to gauge where they are at, gather their feedback on how they feel and what they think is the best approach moving forward.

Once you gather and digest feedback, shift into Coerce & Compel mode to start creating plans and keeping your team accountable for executing them.

Leaders who evaluate the needs of their team and mold their leadership style around those needs are the ones who continue to keep their head above water when faced with a major crisis.

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