When you’re a leader in some type of work group, you’re working with many different people and many different personalities, and it is not easy. For jobs that expect you to have leadership skills, you’ll have to prove that you can manage groups of interesting people, and that you have a leadership style that the interviewer will understand.
Behavioral Interview Question: Tell me about a project where you had to manage a number of people to achieve a goal or outcome. What Leadership style did you use to achieve this objective?
This question only has one answer: There is no one leadership style that is right. Every single team requires a different type of leader at different times.
- Is there a crisis? Be a strong, decisive leader.
- Are things going great with your team? Be hands off, and let them all thrive on their own.
Leaders that only show one type of leadership are not true leaders, because every situation requires an adaptability that true leaders know how to find.
“I took the lead on Research Project X for The University of Y. Our team had about 15 people in total with 3 of those being contractors. We successfully found that Medical Device X could be used to treat Disease Y, and had higher reliability and safety rating than previous iterations of the device. It was a resounding breakthrough, and is now changing the way medical science addresses Disease Y.
As far as leadership styles however, I believe that there isn’t a specific style that incorporates the needs of all individuals. If I had to describe my leadership style on this project, it was adaptable. I was an authoritarian leader when the team needed focused direction, but most of the time I was a coach, since I had an excellent staff that was capable of performing above and beyond expectations with the right encouragement. When decisions needed to be made, I found myself being more democratic. The staff had several research experts, and I knew it would be foolish to assume that I was going to make the right call on my own without their input.
The leadership style I used all depended on the direction that was needed. As long as I was able to get the most from my team, there was no one specific style I used at all times.”
Take some time to develop some variation of this answer. There may be the rare interviewer that is looking for a specific leadership style, but most are not, because no one style is better or worse than others. All styles have their place, depending on the situation at hand.