In the era of ​​digital advancement, significant tension appears to have escalated between data driven KPIs, and feel-good management, with flexible working models, and new professional values. This brings up the question: How can these highly complex concepts and supposed contradictions be resolved, or even co-exist?

Technological disruption is not only playing a key role in introducing new leadership styles, it is also having leaders be faced with the pressure of delivering on a high adaptability basis, in order for their businesses to survive and perform effectively. Which brings up another very important question: what type of leadership is required to cope with these everlasting changes?

Nowadays, the modern boss can only rely on one thing: human resources.
Especially in a demanding climate that is moving tremendously fast in the realm of digital innovation. Not only do the employees want recognition, they also need a shared perspective or vision, to feel like they are developing and growing further with the business. Ultimately, the top to bottom hierarchy structure is coming to an end.

No generation before has consistently questioned the meaning behind one’s own actions as much as the current generation, specifically in the startup culture. Startups are asked to grow very quickly and adapt their organizational structures within months, which means that priorities are fastly changing in shorter periods of time.

The same goes for leaderships. In order to effectively lead a team in the modern world, it is crucial to be an active listener while providing enough flexibility and orderly structure. This in turn helps the decision-making process be as efficient and accurate as possible. One might think that this is a tall order. However, if done correctly, it guarantees higher job satisfaction, as well as sustainable growth of a business.

Although it is a key component for tech startups’ success, leadership is taking a back seat to sales figures and a sound business model. A lot of research conducted in startup culture analysis and their success rates indicate that leadership and startup performance share a significant link. Startup founders should be focusing more on leadership behavior through identifying the best leadership type for the team and the business.

There are five well-known Leadership Styles in the Digital Age:

Commander

(or the delegator)

Delegates decisions and actions
Focus: the end goal
Provides: Direction, objectives, reward, pace
Effective with experienced, self-managing teams

This style is probably less effective with employees who prefer to have a say in the decision making process. Nowadays, it might not be a popular approach that may garner little buy-in. It is a style that is probably more suited for the manufacturing industry, where vision and participation is more limited.

Catalyst

(or the Motivator)

Initiates and motivates to find creative solutions
Focus: Action
Provides: a framework for innovation
Effective with entrepreneurial, innovative teams

The Catalyst allows others to follow their individual goals next to the goals of the business. This in turn pushes innovation and participation to a higher level. This style may be more widely used in network companies such as Airbnb and Uber.

Coach

(or the Director)

Leads and gives orientation
Focus: Performance
Provides: real-time feedback to promote skills and execution
Effective with operational, action-oriented teams

Although the Coach sets the vision and plan, he or she shares both with the employees to make sure they are inspired and supportive. While it may be a good way in safeguarding a clear and communicated vision, it does not however, encourage innovation. It has the potential to be effective in service-oriented businesses.

Collaborator

(or the Supporter)

Supports and models best-practices
Focus: Execution
Provides: hands-on support and involvement
Effective in new, learning or inexperienced teams

This is a very empowering style, with a very involved leadership approach. This style builds on innovating individuals and increasing intellectual capacity.

Consultant

(or the Advisor)

Advises and contributes to the planning of long-term results
Focus: Result
Provides: experience, knowledge and know-how
Effective with traditional, conservative or developing teams

Well known for being an extremely task-oriented leadership style while focusing heavily on the end result. The Consultant also does one thing very differently from the Commandor, which is to ask his employees for their opinion.

Using these leadership styles effectively depends on the industry, as well as the required leadership style proportions at the right situations. This of course, can be a tricky task. At Talent Tree, we understand the importance of taking leadership styles into consideration when hiring appropriate C-levels for Startups. Through a specialized team of talent scouts and a sustainable recruitment process, we focus on selecting the right candidates for tech startups who are looking to disrupt the green technology domain in Munich.

From personal experience with our clients – fundamental trust amongst C-levels, and the relationship between the founders play a big role in the longevity and effectiveness of a business. We have been approached by many founders who reach out to us saying that they have this great business model, but don’t know how to go about finding the right technical co-founder who can help them build their vision.

First hires are very crucial for a tech startup. One of the most important characteristics of initial hiring for start-ups is adaptability and self-sufficiency. Which brings us back to the different styles of leadership. Co-creating with other founders, investors, and employees is an approach that is growing in faster rates, especially in the field of digital innovation. It is proven to be more profitable in the long run to focus on employee engagement. Not to mention, it ultimately results in greater investor returns.

As a consultant and recruitment service provider, we work together with our clients in helping them decide their own preferred leadership style. We also bring like-minded C-levels and talents together, to achieve sustainable technological disruption. We is proud of the companies we support on their quest for top talent, brilliant minds and disruptive thinkers, and hope to continue that shared goal of making the world a better place, through openness, adaptation, and sustainable recruitment.