Many people see leadership as a means to advance their social, professional, and personal lives. Leadership has also caught the notice of researchers worldwide. Over the last century, they have identified the following ten styles, which the greatest leaders use to fit the situation that exists at any particular time.
Here leaders have complete control over their employees. This is one of the most severe forms of leadership. Workers have virtually no chance of getting their voices heard or stating their feelings. This leadership style occurs in several nations around the world, but is seldom used in the West. It works best for low skilled jobs (if used properly) where a manager has to supervise employees and describe what needs to be done.
This is one of the oldest forms of leadership. Bureaucratic leaders depend on rules and regulations and well-defined positions within organizations. Workers in bureaucracies are promoted based on their ability to follow the rules. This style is perfect for large corporations but may fail in startups where more flexibility is required. It’s also a good leadership style for high-risk environments that deal with safety issues such as toxic chemicals, heavy machinery, large financial dealings, and quality assurance.
The charismatic leader assembles supporters by means of personality and magnetism, rather than any usage of external authority or power. It’s fascinating to observe a charismatic leader “working the room” as he or she moves from person to person. Charismatic leaders are good at picking up the anxieties and moods of both individuals and larger audiences, and they pay a lot of attention to perusing and understanding their environment. As long as the charismatic leader maintains realistic expectations, his or her team can be motivated to reach new heights never thought possible.
This style allows members of the group to take a more participative position in the decision-making process. Ideas are swapped unreservedly, everybody is given the chance to contribute, and dialogue is encouraged. Researchers have found that this is one of the most successful of the leadership styles, and it leads to greater productivity. As this method takes time and includes consultations and meetings it can decrease productivity but will almost certainly improve quality.
Laissez-faire leaders are hands-off and allow group members to make the decisions. This type of leadership can be successful where group members are highly skilled, driven, and able to work on their own. It is especially effective in circumstances where group members are essentially more knowledgeable than their leader, and where micro-management can actually work against the team.
Task oriented leaders are best for jobs that must be done right. This style emphasizes plans, structure, and schedules. It is well suited to workplaces such as manufacturing assembly lines and law enforcement. Task-oriented leaders can often meet targets, make efficient time use, and keep staff focused on completing a critical assignment. The downside of this leadership style is that it can cause creativity to suffer, and is unsuitable for highly competitive environments where employees must constantly take calculated risks.
This type of leadership is the opposite of the task-oriented style because the leader is contributing directly alongside his or her employees throughout the process. However, skilled leaders know that merging the two styles can prove to be very effective. The leader is involved in each phase of the work and is present to offer ideas, guidance, and encouragement to his or her employees. The entertainment industry, advertising firms, and other organizations where collaboration is important commonly use this type of leadership.
Servant leaders are “servants first.” They focus on the needs of others, particularly team members, before considering their own needs. This type of leader recognizes other people’s viewpoints, gives them the encouragement they need to meet their work and personal goals, involves them in decisions where applicable, and builds a sense of community within their teams. This style may not work in an extremely competitive setting where other, more forceful styles are used because it is centered on gaining power through values and ideals.
Transactional leaders create clear structures for their subordinates, outlining exactly what is required of them, and the rewards they will get for following orders. Workers are wholly accountable for any jobs assigned by the transactional leader, whether or not they have the resources or capability of carrying out these tasks. Leaders using only this one style do not inspire workers to be innovative thinkers in the workplace, to take initiative, or like their jobs, although it may be effective in achieving short-term tasks and making sure routine work is done consistently.
This leadership style inspires growth and personal change in followers and has the end goal of developing followers into leaders. The followers of such a leader often feel admiration, trust, respect, and loyalty. Because the leader inspires these sentiments, they are willing to work harder than expected. This type of leadership has four elements: individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, and idealized influence. According to author Drew Hendricks, truly exceptional transformational leaders are the ones who prevent workers from being overly dependent on their bosses, fostering instead a staff that feels inspired and self-guided.
The leadership style you choose has a direct effect on the outcome you achieve. How can you develop a truly effective leadership style? Tom Rath of Gallup says, “The best leaders are not well-rounded … [but] the best teams are.” Acknowledge the input of others and give your team the leeway to innovate. Also, find out which team members particularly complement your leadership style, and think about how you can use these strengths for the better.
The leadership style of an individual is usually not fixed. We all have the ability to modify our leadership style to fit the situation. Good leaders can adjust quickly to suit almost any set of circumstances. Once you find your default leadership style, see how you, too, can adapt to deal with any situation that comes your way.