What is the difference between leadership skills and leadership styles?

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Leadership styles and skills are two very different things that come into play when leading people. Everyone who leads has a leadership style—it is the manner in which they tend to lead, typically related to personality traits. A leadership style can be strict or laidback, informal, delegating, or any number...

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Leadership styles and skills are two very different things that come into play when leading people. Everyone who leads has a leadership style—it is the manner in which they tend to lead, typically related to personality traits. A leadership style can be strict or laidback, informal, delegating, or any number of different types of leading others.

Leadership skills, however, are an individual’s natural capacity and propensity towards leading. If someone is charismatic, driven, and engaging, they are better at leading naturally, so these are leadership skills. Someone can improve their leadership skills through practice and concerted effort (by working on their speaking, trying to be more amiable or severe, etc.). Leadership skills are beneficial to being an effective leader, but everyone will have a leadership style.

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Leadership style refers to the overall way in which a person guides a group of followers.

Leadership skills are specific abilities that a person uses in different scenarios when exercising his/her leadership style.

To illustrate how leadership styles and skills work hand in hand, take the example of the Team Leadership style. In this style, the authority figure identifies and uses the skills and passion of each member of the team to create a cohesive unit that takes advantage of the best parts of each member of the team.

The Harvard Business Review suggests that this leadership style only works when the right leadership skills are at play. The leader developing the team must have the ability to identify, grow, and mold a team; set a direction for the team; and identify and track the goals of the team.

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There is a slight, but noticeable difference between the skills and style of leadership.  The skills of leadership are absolute, applicable to any and all situations.  They involve communication to employees, articulation of organizational goals and focus, providing feedback, and ensuring that the work environment cradle both the promises and possibilities of both organization and employees.  These skills have to be present in any leadership situation.  The style of management is contingent on the type of individuals in the organization.  The style in which one manages delivers the skills, but the manner in which these points are brought to stakeholders in an organization varies on the strengths of the manager and the needs of the employees.

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