What Kind of Leader Are You? These are the 8 Most Common Leadership Styles

What Kind of Leader Are You? 9 Leadership Types and Their Strengths

Whether you are leading a small group or a large organization, your leadership style can greatly impact the effectiveness of your efforts. Although there are several types of leadership, the most appropriate one to use depends on you and your team. Christie Lindor, founder and CEO of Tessi Consulting, described some common traits of an effective leader to us.

“Effective leaders demonstrate the political will to make tough decisions and are accountable enough to follow through on promises,” she said. “Transparent communication styles also make leaders effective.”

In addition to making tough decisions and exhibiting clear communication, productive leaders should periodically examine their style and evaluate how their subordinates perceive it. Sometimes it is necessary to alternate leadership styles to accommodate a team’s changing needs. [Related article: 7 Common Leadership Mistakes You’re Probably Making]

What Kind of Leader Are You? These are the 8 Most Common Leadership Styles

boss and employee

Every leader has a distinct style of leadership that helps to differentiate that person from other leaders. In a recent article on HubSpot by Braden Becker, he discusses 8 unique leadership styles, what they are, how they differ and their relative effectiveness. Leaders would be keen to figure out where you fall on this list, and is it where you truly want to be?

This type of leader gives everyone an equal say on a project and lets the group come to consensus about how to proceed. While the leader may still be ultimately accountable, everyone gets equal input, regardless of title or rank. Decisions are made as a group and the leader acts as a guide to ensure everything stays on track.

Autocratic leadership can be considered the antithesis to the democratic leadership. The leader maintains and exerts all the power, having complete control and asking for no input. The autocratic leader will create the idea, the strategy, the timeframe and expect direct reports to execute these orders. There is no room for collaboration or opinion. Because of that, it’s a very unpopular leadership style that can likely lead to high turnover and increased employee disengagement.

This type of leader allows workers to call the shots. Imagine how a brand new tech company may operate. Let’s say the work is all computer-based, so can be done from anywhere, at any time. Perhaps this type of leader lets workers do their jobs when and how they want, as to not stifle creativity, allowing workers to do their jobs when they are most effective.

This type of leadership can certainly be appreciated by employees who don’t need a lot of supervision or clarification on job duties, but it can be difficult for those who prefer to be very interactive and involved with their leaders. This leadership style also has the potential to leave a lot of potential on the table if employees aren’t pushed to achieve more.

A strategic leader is at the intersection of upper management and the workforce. They have a key role in shaping the future of the company while still providing support for members of the staff. This leader is charged with moving the company forward while trying to meet the needs and wants of the workforce.

Having a strategic leader can be valuable to the company as long as the leader does not get spread too thin. The leader needs to find a balance between creating and moving their vision forward while ensuring direct reports have what they need to succeed.

Often found within growth-minded companies, the transformational leader is always trying to move things forward and change things up. This leader is looking to get the most out of the workforce, pushing their limits and helping them to learn and excel at new skills with regularity.

Naturally, if a worker doesn’t respond well to this form of leadership, they can feel under pressure and full of stress throughout their workday. This type of leadership can only be successful with workers that respond positively to this type of aggressive and ever-changing leadership.

Transactional leadership focuses on the specific work accomplished by the employee. Think about a sales organization. A transactional leader may set up a bonus program for salespeople that make 100 calls in a week. The job description is clearly spelled out and the workers either meet, or fail to meet, the tasks prescribed for them.

This type of management does not include much input from workers; it’s more beneficial for operations where having a team of “worker bees” suits the company’s purpose. Roles and responsibilities are more clearly determined through this type of leadership. Creative types and those seeking to play a role in company strategy will likely not thrive in this setting.

The leader who coaches tends to put emphasis on the growth and development of the employee. This leader looks for strengths of each team member and finds ways to maximize those strengths for the company’s benefit.

This leadership style allows certain talents within the team to flourish; it’s anything but cookie-cutter. Each staff member may have unique roles that are built around their individual strengths. Think of a football coach; he will have different expectations from his quarterback than from his kicker or offensive tackle. It works the same way in business. Someone may be a great writer while someone else may excel at data analysis, but chances are, the same person will not excel at both skills.

An innovation killer, bureaucratic leaders operate strictly by the book. They allow little to no flexibility for ideas that stray from the company line. While this leader may at least be receptive to hearing ideas, unlike the autocratic leader, they will dismiss the idea once it conflicts with the company’s way of operating.

The Delegating, “Laissez Faire” Leader

“Laissez faire” is a French phrase adopted into English that means, “Let (people) do (as they choose).” It describes a policy of leaving situations to run their own course, without interfering.

By adopting this style of leadership, you empower your team to make decisions and to organize its own processes, with little or no guidance. The danger of this approach is that situations can collapse into chaos if your people have low motivation or poor skills. It can work, however, if they are experienced, knowledgeable, confident, creative, and driven, or if deadlines are flexible and processes are simple.

Be in no doubt, though, that as the leader you will still be held accountable for the outcome! So you might want to organize team decision making processes to support your people while you take a “hands off” approach. Just be sure to delegate the right task to the right person, as a mismatch could mean that the whole team fails.

Avoid becoming too remote, even with a high-performing, highly autonomous team. Change can occur at any time in business, so your organization’s requirements for your team might shift after your initial brief. If this happens, stay in touch with your people, and communicate clearly and promptly. Remember, you can offer your support without becoming a micromanager !

Consistently excellent and long-lasting teams tend to have transformational leaders . These leaders have high expectations for, and set a fine example to, their people. And they inspire them to reach for the seemingly impossible.

Further Reading:

Key Points

But one approach doesn’t fit all scenarios: some situations and people call for a fast, firm, top-down approach, while others flourish with shared responsibilities and the freedom to plan, decide and act.

Kurt Lewin’s model expresses this range of styles in relatively simple terms, from Authoritarian or Autocratic, through Democratic or Participative, to Delegating or “Laissez Faire.”

This assessment has not been validated and is intended for illustrative purposes only. It is just one of many that help you evaluate your abilities in a wide range of important career skills. Click here for other self-tests.

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