‘What makes a good leader?’
This is a question that anyone who has ever had to manage a team has definitely wondered about. While there’s no concrete answer, an individual’s leadership style can say a lot about how well he or she is capable of managing the team, and the kind of work culture they are fostering.
Leading a team is no easy task. It requires continuous improvements, moments of self-inspection, and the flexibility to adapt your leadership style in different situations. However, knowing what leadership styles you usually tend to exhibit can help you decide whether you are effectively motivating your team, and how you can do even better.
In today’s post, we are going to talk about the most common leadership styles, and how you can find out which of these styles you may be following in your own workplace.
Do Leadership Styles Actually Matter?
If you have any doubts about whether leadership styles actually matter, then consider this: every day, in order to meet specific objectives, you and your team have to put a tremendous amount of time and effort to make sure things get done the right way. But if you could find the right way to motivate and inspire your team members, then you would see a huge improvement in productivity with half the effort.
In fact, a research from Harvard Business Review found that a manager’s leadership style was responsible for 30% of the company’s bottom-line profitability. So, you can imagine just how important it is to know your own leadership style and determine whether it is the right one to lead your team if you want your organization to prosper.
Understanding The 7 Most Popular Leadership Styles
There have been many theories when it comes to all the different styles of leadership. Originally, a group of researchers led by psychologist Kurt Lewin set out to identify different leadership styles back in 1939 and came up with the 3 model leadership styles theory. Since then, several studies have been done to expand on the original leadership styles theory.
The most popular leadership styles theory till now is the one by Daniel Goleman, published in 2003 in his study “Leadership That Gets Results”. In this study, Goleman talks about the 6 most common leadership styles.
In this article, we are going to explore the leadership styles theories introduced by Goleman, along with a few other common styles of leadership that are often recognized among managers.
This leadership style is one where the leader guides his or her team members by setting them realistic goals, and then consistently giving them feedback on how they can do better. To have a coaching leadership style, you must be able to recognize your team member’s strengths and weaknesses. Not only that, you also need to know how to inspire and motivate each individual team member.
Wondering if your leadership style fits the coaching style? Here are some signs:
- If you are supportive in the way you give feedback
- If you offer advice or guidance rather than direct commands
- If you recognize and value your team member’s learning curve
- If you are able to both give knowledge and help your team members find it on their own
Visionary leadership style is one of the most challenging to adopt, but it is also one of the most effective ones for fostering sustainable growth. Visionary leaders tend to be charismatic and inspirational, with the power to bring in new ideas and innovation by motivating others to follow their lead.
Visionary leaders tend to be bold, innovative and have a clear vision for the future of the company. They make plans to push their team to achieve that vision by making strategic decisions.
You might be a visionary leader if you exhibit the following traits:
- You take initiatives and plan strategically to turn your vision into reality
- You are able to inspire others to share your vision and act accordingly
- You are unafraid to take risks and encourage innovative thinking
A visionary leadership style will be effective in most organizations, but is particularly helpful for new startups where team members need proper guidance and a shared goal they can work towards achieving in a collaborative manner.
Although this leadership style has some negative connotations, autocratic leadership styles are quite common and can be surprisingly effective in certain work environments. As the name suggests, autocratic leadership styles are those where the leader makes most of the decisions, and expects team members to follow through.
Autocratic leaders tend to be result-oriented, and focus more on increasing efficiency and productivity. This sort of leadership style works best in highly structured or bureaucratic organizations.
You may show signs of autocratic leadership if the following matches with your style of leadership:
- You prefer a hierarchical structure of management
- You are self-motivated and expect the same from others
- You are dependable and prefer following specific rules
- You are able to communicate clearly and precisely
Despite the negative connotations of autocratic leadership, this style of leadership can be extremely effective in stressful or crisis situations, where a quick decision maker is needed. You can save time and avoid errors when you follow autocratic leadership during time sensitive situations.
Laissez-faire style of leadership is the exact opposite of autocratic style of leadership. Managers who adopt this style of leadership are those who prefer to delegate responsibilities among others. Work environments where this style of leadership is adopted often have little to no supervision, and team members have the freedom to approach their tasks their own way.
If your team members have any confusion about their job responsibilities and what is expected of them, then this approach to management will not be effective. This style of leadership encourages being self-initiative. It requires a lot of trust and the employees are expected to be highly self-motivated and responsible about their duties.
Not sure if this is your style of leadership? Consider the following:
- Do you often delegate tasks to others?
- Do you encourage team members to take initiatives?
- Do you promote and encourage leadership qualities?
- Do you trust your team members to complete their responsibilities?
If the answer is yes to most of the above questions, then you are probably adopting a Laissez-faire style of leadership in your workplace.
This sort of leadership is only effective when the people on your team are already highly skilled, highly trained and have great professional experience.
While autocratic leaders tend to make decisions by themselves and expect others to follow in their lead, democratic leaders on the other hand want to hear input from others and include their team members in the decision making process.
This type of leadership encourages a collaborative atmosphere, and facilitates positive communication in the workplace. Democratic leaders make everyone feel heard and seen, which also encourages workplace inclusivity.
You can be a democratic leader if you do the following:
- Promote a work culture where everyone can communicate freely
- Encourage team members to voice their opinions with ease
- Able to mediate conflicts and disagreements smoothly
- Value feedback from others and open to new perspectives
However, democratic style of leadership can be inefficient during critical, time-sensitive situations where decisions must be made quickly and actions need to be taken swiftly. Therefore to be a successful leader, you must know when to act decisively and when to give time for group discussions.
The pacesetter style of leadership is the kind where the team lead sets the bar for their team members and pushes them to meet his or her expectations. In this type of leadership, the manager sets the pace for completing the tasks and others are expected to follow through.
Leaders who are pacesetters are highly focused on results, performance and increasing efficiency in the workplace. However, in order for this style of leadership to be actually effective, you must set achievable, realistic goals for your team members.
Are you already showing signs of a pacesetter leader? Here are some signs:
- You believe in setting high standards for every team member
- You focus on results to measure and evaluate performance
- Your main objective is to ensure all goals are being met on time
- You encourage a highly competitive & fast-paced work environment
- You value measurable performance more than you value soft skills
While a pacesetter leadership style will help you build a dynamic and highly energetic team, there is a high possibility that you may inadvertently create stressful situations if you’re constantly pushing your team members to meet deadlines.
Therefore, this sort of leadership style is more encouraged when trying to complete a particular project on time, or when you are training new recruits to be more efficient.
Transformational leadership style is similar to coaching leadership style, in the sense that transformational leaders tend to focus on clearly communicating with their team members, give feedback consistently and guide the team to achieve goals.
However, while coaching leadership style focuses on helping individual team members meet their goals, transformational leaders focus more on the overall organizational objectives.
You might be a transformational leader, if you have the following characteristics:
- You can inspire others to be initiative and self-motivated
- You encourage team members to prioritize organizational goals
- You promote creative thinking and innovation in your team
- You have a good understanding of organizational needs
In other words, transformational leaders think of the “big picture” and guide their team members to achieve that vision.
Which Leadership Style Is Yours?
With this guide, you can now find out which leadership style you are following, and whether it is the right one for leading your team.
Don’t be surprised if you find that you are following several different leadership styles at once; in fact, most successful leaders are those who know how to be flexible and change their leadership style according to the situation.