Leadership Styles

What leadership style are you? How about your boss? What style would you like to be?

There is a mountain of leadership information out there that seems to be calling your name, but it’s so hard to consume it all. So here is a concise list of ten common leadership styles that will be the most useful to you. Read through them, understand more about yourself, and tailor them to your needs to become an exceptional leader.

1. Situational

Situational leadership is exactly as it sounds. You make judgment calls based on varying circumstances, such as work environment, employee strengths, and corporate goals. The judgment calls you make are based on the leadership styles needed in any given situation.

Situational leadership is favored by many big organizations because of its flexibility. However, any leader who is required to fill this role must have a broad understanding of leadership and its different functions. They need to have a firm grasp of techniques that are both authoritative and team-based. The more leading styles that you are familiar with, the better.

2. Democratic

There are several ways you can implement a democratic approach to leadership. However, both approaches incorporate one thing: employee feedback. The bottom line is to prompt your employees for their ideas, insights, and thoughts. This is often most helpful in group settings or board meetings. You can use your team of employees as a great “idea-machine.” It is also one of the most effective types of leadership.

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The two kinds of democratic leadership are based on how you incorporate employees’ feedback. The final say is always yours, but you can choose to 1) consider their opinions or 2) put it up to a vote. The difference between those two is the control you give your employees. The amount of power you give them also depends on your project. Does your goal require them to make the decision, or does it need a general idea of their views? You call the shots.

3. Autocratic

This leadership style is extremely management based. As opposed to the democratic approach, an autocratic leader makes all decisions by themself or with a select group of individuals. Because the autocratic style is heavily supervision-based, it is not conducive to highly creative environments. It is a style best reserved for jobs that have one specialized individual with several assistants.

This style can also be very effective with groups of people who do not perform well by themselves. Certain people need more encouragement than others, especially new employees who have little to no experience. They require more supervision and it is best to teach them to follow instructions before letting them have much input.

4. Supportive

Having a supportive leadership role entails a unique approach to the workplace. Usually, the main emphasis is mainly on management. But, in this case, leadership is also emphasized. What is the difference between management and leadership? Management is when a supervisor is the one making the course-corrections and helping employees make the right choices. Conversely, leadership is all about training employees how to deal with their own challenges. This minimizes how much they have to come to you with little problems. The supportive style includes checkups with your employees to make sure they are learning and doing well.

Here are some tips for implementing this strategy: be an example to your employees, cultivate your relationships with them, and create a team-based environment. No one will trust or listen to you if you don’t prove to them that you are in this together. You can demonstrate this by working alongside your employees in a “hands-on” manner. This helps cultivate your relationship with them and sets an example for their work ethic.

5. Servant

Servant Leadership Style helping

What does it mean to be a “servant” leader? It sounds counter-intuitive. Simply put, a servant leader places the needs of others before their own. This creates high satisfaction in both their work and private life. It sounds obvious, but generally, people like it when you care about them. A servant leader harnesses the best in people and drives them toward an end-goal, leading by example.

The primary goal of a servant leader is often to increase employee morale and team engagement. They tend to do this by one-on-one conversations or meetings with their employees to see what they think or what they worry about. Because of this, servant leaders also tend to earn a lot of respect within their teams. This can help them gain the necessary traction with others that inturn can help them meet their goals.

6. Laissez-Faire or Hands-Off

This leading style is best reserved for employees who are already highly trained and experienced because it takes a “hands-off” approach. Laissez-faire leaders delegate most or all tasks to other employees and allow them to accomplish them in their own way, requiring very little to no supervision.

This only works in certain situations and jobs. Some employees may need more motivation and encouragement than others. If your team is chiefly comprised of these people, laissez-faire is not the best approach. However, if you clearly communicate your expectations to the team (so they are not confused and unable to ask for help), they can be highly effective in their fields of expertise. Examples of some fields in which this would work are ones that have highly trained individuals such as mechanics or engineers. So long as they know their goals, they can get their work done on their own.

7. Pacesetter

Pacesetting is a leadership style that demands fast-paced and adaptable individuals. Using this style for new-hires or people who need to take their time is not advisable. However, doing this for more experienced people is highly motivating and keeps them up to date, on time, and ahead of schedule.

Pacesetting leaders prioritize their time, and, consequently, only review relevant material. They set goals for their employees and expect them to deliver on time. Each member of the team is responsible for meeting the set goals. They only check-in when someone is struggling or is not up-to-date on the game-plan. In other words, pacesetters are highly efficient but need to have a team that is flexible and extremely motivated.

8. Transactional

A transactional leadership style is very goal-based. They create goals for their employees to strive for and expect them to deliver on those goals. They focus on mentoring and teaching their employees to plan and exceed their goals. Usually, transactional leaders make incentives to complete goals by either giving the employee some sort of reward if the job is done right or disciplinary action if the goal is not achieved.

This leading style is not the likeliest choice for fostering a creative environment, but it does help get things done. Because of this, it is far more appropriate in accounting, banking, and other organizational and revenue-based fields.

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9. Transformational

The transformational leadership style focuses on the big-picture goal setting. These leaders spend a lot of time getting to know their company, employees, and what kind of goals they should set. After this, they create teams of people who are suited for each other and give each team an end-goal. They also encourage individuals to set goals for themselves that match the “big-picture.”

This type of leadership requires good communication and the ability to motivate your employees. Setting goals for employees that seem impossible kills their motivation. Encouraging them to set reasonable, bite-sized goals lets them see that the end-goal is achievable. These teams need to handle a lot of delegation without very much supervision. In other words, they need to have strong teamwork and be able to self-regulate.

10. Charismatic

While many of the previous leadership styles focused on how managers and leaders should work in an organization’s environment, charismatic leadership is less specific. A charismatic leader must have the ability to communicate both effectively and on a deeper level that rallies people to action. This leading style concentrates on inspiring others to support your cause. Usually, a charismatic leader is very passionate about either their morals or a goal or dream they wish to achieve. This means they have a vision for what they want to accomplish in business and whatever field they may be specialized in.

Because of its heavy usage of communication and employee inspiration, this type of leadership can be used in other styles. It is highly adaptable and works exceptionally for managers that are already gifted in this area.

Conclusion

Did you see yourself in any of these leadership styles? Take this 2-minute leadership style quiz to confirm your thinking.

Having the ability to adapt these styles of leadership to your purposes takes time and dedication. But it is also that time and dedication that makes you a great leader. The effort and work you put into this are equal to the results you get out of it. Whether you are an aspiring leader, a senior manager, a coach, a small business owner, or any kind of leader, you need to get out there and inspire your followers. This is a great start.

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RECAP: 10 Leadership Styles You Should Know

Below is the list again for those with short memories like us. The difference between average leaders and great ones is often self-awareness. Great leaders understand their strengths and work to them. Understanding more about your own leadership style or styles will help you reach your goals.
  1.    Situational
  2.    Democratic
  3.    Autocratic
  4.    Supportive
  5.    Servant
  6.    Laissez-Faire
  7.    Pacesetter
  8.    Transactional
  9.    Transformational
  10.   Charismatic
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