You could be a team leader, a manager or a CEO—whichever the case, you are leader of some sort. The way you lead is what defines your “leadership style.” When we say “style,” we’re trying not to classify leadership methods under the categories of right or wrong. If it’s just the way you lead and it works for you— it’s just your style.
It’s usually difficult to judge ourselves, especially when it comes to the way we lead. Your employees may give you subtle hints about your leadership approach, but most of the time, they’re going to try their best not to give you opinionated comments about how you do your job. (Hint: They’re scared of you, unless you’re a softy.)
So, instead of throwing in a quiz, we’ve decided to present you with the most common types of leadership styles so you can “know thyself”…
- Laissez-Faire—the Softy: Laissez faire is a French word that translates to, “to leave.” A laissez-faire leader “leaves” his followers to do as they will. The followers or employees could be highly experienced or trained individuals that don’t need dictations to do their job. A laissez faire leader demands less feedback. This type of leadership can prove ineffective for those subordinates who need supervision to maintain productivity.
- Democratic—the Parent: Democratic leadership, also known as participative leadership, is a perfect blend of “autocratic” and “laissez-faire” leadership styles. This type of leader usually consults his employees or followers before making a decision—so they get to participate in the decision-making process—but the authority to finalize decision lies with the leader only. This is usually the “best” form of leadership since it offers the benefits of both extremes (laissez-faire and autocratic) while canceling out the disadvantages of each.
- Autocratic—The Emperor: This an extreme form of dominant leadership. Autocratic leaders make all the decisions and they make it alone. They don’t need to consider anyone’s opinions or ask for advice. They only command. This form of leadership is best in crisis situations, but it can be highly demoralizing for the followers.
- Transformational—the Visionary: This type of leader, usually a CEO, or some other “big guy” is focused on the big picture. He communicates his ideas with all the members’ concerns and provides them with frequent updates about how close they are to reaching a goal. This type of leader believes that frequent communication, high visibility and constant reminders are the best ways to motivate followers. He believes that everyone, even the guy with the mail, somehow contributes to the precious end goals.
- Transactional—the Briber: A leader with a transactional style believes that all men are motivated by pleasure and pain. To get things done, they offer rewards. When things aren’t done the way they should be, they provide punishments. This is, of course, based on performance and how well assigned goals or tasks were accomplished. The good employees may receive bonuses or awards. The bad ones, well, some sort of corrective action is used depending on the seriousness of the felony (okay, not that serious—maybe just a bad bonus).
- Situational—the Coach: A situational leader is a lot like a great coach. This type of leader is directive as well as supportive and offers ample mentoring to help the team achieve its goals. This type of leader is patient and believes he is the driving force of the team. He attempts to “level the playing field” by taking the whole team together and offering additional mentoring to anyone who needs extra support. This type of leadership is good to use when certain procedures need fine-tuning or refinement.
If you’re an autocratic leader, consider giving your employee a little more discretion and provide them with the opportunity to add a little input. A laissez-faire leader will always run into trouble for not meeting targets or lacking proper control if certain attention-necessitating individuals are neglected. A transformational leader sometimes needs to be reminded that small goals and daily tasks are of equal importance and require attention before the big goals can be reached. A transactional leader needs to go beyond the reward and punishment approach by experimenting with communicative methods a little more.
So, which one are you?
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