One of the leaders in my life who has had a great influence on me is
Baran Altan. He was a general manager at S.O.S (Save Our Stomachs), where I
worked as a waiter. Baran Altan is the owner of the restaurant and also was
responsible for running of the restaurant. I talk with him and analyze his
leadership style.

Altan’s leadership style was based on coaching and directing. He was
knowledgeable and experienced in all positions he managed at the restaurant. This
allowed him to effectively coach people in whatever position they happened to
be working. Altan’s coaching was done with respect and humility. As an example,
one day someone was cutting dough for pizza crust and did not comply with
company safety standards. Most of the managers would have either bluntly
instructed the worker to comply with the standards, or they would have taken
disciplinary action against the employee. This was not the approach Altan
chose. He explained that to the employee this is not how “we” do things at this
store. He then explained why this was not the way we do things, discussed what
the safety standards protected against, demonstrated the correct way to process
this dough, and asked if the worker had any questions. Altan not only took some
time to speak with the employee about the problem; he choose not to discipline
his now follower, but instead put himself in their role to demonstrate how to
properly process the product safely. By being willing to do this person’s job
and explaining why the safety standards were in place, Altan had won over this
employee. Altan was also a great director of people. If the restaurant started
to get behind in an evening rush or the next day’s food preparation was behind
schedule, Altan’s management knowledge allowed him to see where the problem
was. He could then direct people to complete tasks that would allow us to meet
customer and time expectations. 

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While often directing could be seen as a management skill instead of
leadership skill, Altan was able direct as a leader and not just a manager. As
an example, when we were behind during a rush and guests were becoming
disgruntled, he would communicate our shared vision of wanting to satisfy the
guests we had and then clearly communicate what changes he thought necessary to
accomplish the goal of serving everyone in a timely fashion. Altan would never
plainly state that, “Giray, we need you to go out right now and clean table.” Instead,
he would suggest this as a solution and let the employee decide to take on that
task. While everyone knew that the manager had the final say and was the
ultimate authority on how we would handle a situation, he always empowered
employees to follow his lead or give a suggestion that might even be a better
than his own idea. While Altan would direct his crew, he did so in a way that
allowed them to follow his lead instead of just managing them. This was Altan’s
style of leadership.

My own style of leadership is based on the same humility and respect
that Altan showed me works with others. In my current position, I am in charge
of a small crew of workers and use some of the same leadership characteristics
Altan used. I also use part of Altan’s leadership style, primarily the coaching
portion. When someone is not performing to the standards to completing the
tasks in a way I see as appropriate, I take some time to empathize with them,
asking questions, watching, and figuring out why they may not be performing to
the standard. When the opportunity arises, I then explain and show them how I
do it. As we worked together, I would point out the parts that were
unsatisfactory and ask how we could solve the problem. By giving this employee
some respect and working with him, by empowering him to find solution to the
problem instead of telling him what to do, and by communicating the
expectations, there was never a problem again with the grounds meeting company
expectations. This coaching style of leadership, helping people find their own
solutions or leading them to a good solution instead of mandating a solution,
is my primary style of leadership.

While coaching is my primary style of leadership, there are outside
environmental and societal pressures that could cause me to turn to a directing
or delegating style of leadership. Social norms and politics can put a leader
in the position of needing to direct people instead of coaching them. One of
these situations could be when a new food handling policy is passed. People
need to comply with this policy immediately; there is no time to coach and
allow an employee to discover a solution to comply with this policy. There are
also times when public opinion may require different leadership styles. Recently,
the public has championed the equal treatment of transgender individuals. While
coaching someone to understand why treating everyone equally would be
desirable, this is not an option. People must be directed to give equal
treatment to transgender individuals or the company risks losing profits
because of a poor customer view of the company and falling sales. While someone
may have a primary style of leadership, it is important to be able to use other
styles as situations arise which necessitate this.

Leaders have different styles of leadership. There are leaders you
have worked with who will default to a style similar to your own. These are
good role models and may give you a lot of insight on how you can use your own
talents to better lead. Yet only using one or two leadership styles will limit
a leader’s effectiveness in all situations. It is important to understand all
the leadership styles and know when each one is best used. When time allows,
coaching someone may work best; in other situations, delegating may be the most
effective way to get a task completed. Studying leaders who have a different
style of leadership than you are most comfortable with may be the best way to
become a stronger leader.