8 Most Common Leadership Styles

8 Most Common Leadership Styles

What Is Leadership Style?

Leadership style refers to the methods and behaviors a leader employs when guiding, motivating, and managing others. One's leadership style also dictates how they formulate strategies and implement plans while considering the expectations of stakeholders and the well-being of the team.

Why Understanding Your Leadership Style Is Important

Understanding your leadership style is crucial because it helps you determine how to influence those directly under your purview. How do your immediate subordinates perceive you? Do they see you as an effective leader?

Requesting feedback is always important to understand how you're doing, but understanding your leadership style before seeking feedback can be a useful starting point. This way, when you receive input from junior staff, you can automatically decide which new leadership style might be best and incorporate the characteristics of that style into your day-to-day management responsibilities.

Understanding your leadership style may also obviate the need for feedback. Each leadership style has its pitfalls, prompting you to proactively address improvement areas. This is crucial because some employees may hesitate to provide feedback, even in anonymous surveys.

8 Most Common Leadership Styles: 

1.Democratic Leadership
2.Autocratic Leadership
3.Laissez-Faire Leadership
4.Strategic Leadership
5.Transformational Leadership
6.Transactional Leadership
7.Coaching Leadership
8.Bureaucratic Leadership

1.Democratic Leadership

Usually Effective Democratic leadership, as the name suggests, involves the leader making decisions based on the input of each team member. While they make the final decision, every employee has an equal say in the direction of the project.

Democratic leadership is one of the most effective leadership styles because it allows subordinates to exercise the authority they'll need in future positions. It's akin to decision-making in a corporate boardroom.

For instance, in a corporate board meeting, a democratic leader might present the team with choices related to decision-making. They would then facilitate a discussion on each option. Following the discussion, this leader might consider the board's thoughts and feedback, or they might openly decide by vote.

2.Autocratic Leadership

Rarely Effective Autocratic leadership is the antithesis of democratic leadership. In this style, the leader makes decisions without seeking input from anyone reporting to them. Employees are expected to adhere to the leader's directives without consideration or consultation before changes in direction.

An example of this would be a manager altering the work hours of several employees without consulting anyone, especially those affected.

Frankly, this style of leadership is terrible. Nowadays, most organizations can't sustain such autocratic cultures without layoffs. It's better for leadership to adopt a more open attitude toward the wisdom and perspectives of other team members.

3.Laissez-Faire Leadership

Sometimes Effective If you remember your high school French, you'll accurately recognize laissez-faire leadership as the least intrusive form of leadership. The French term "laissez-faire" translates directly to "let them do," and leaders who subscribe to this approach delegate almost all power to employees.

For example, in a young startup, you might see a laissez-faire company founder with few significant office policies regarding work hours or deadlines. They may trust their employees fully while focusing on the overall operations of the company.

While laissez-faire leadership allows employees to work as they see fit through trust, it can limit their development and overlook critical company growth opportunities. Thus, maintaining this leadership style is essential.

4.Strategic Leadership

Usually Effective Strategic leaders sit at the intersection of a company's primary business and its growth opportunities. They bear the burden of executive authority while ensuring that the current working conditions remain stable for others.

In many companies, this is a satisfactory leadership style because strategic thinking supports multiple types of employees. However, leaders operating in this manner might set a dangerous precedent, such as how many people they can support at once and what the company's true optimal direction is if everyone is allowed free rein.

5.Transformational Leadership

Sometimes Effective Transformational leadership is always "transforming," elevating a company's norms. Employees may have basic tasks and goals to accomplish weekly or monthly, but the leader is constantly pushing them beyond their comfort zones.

When starting work with this type of leader, all employees may receive a list of goals to achieve and deadlines for achieving them. Although the goals may seem straightforward at first, as you grow within the company, this manager might accelerate the pace of deadlines or give you more challenging objectives.

In growth-oriented companies, this leadership style is highly encouraged as it motivates employees to see their capabilities. However, without direct reporting, transformational leaders may overlook each person's individual learning curve, correctly coaching them through new responsibilities.

6.Transactional Leadership

Sometimes Effective Transactional leaders are quite common today. These managers reward their employees precisely for the work they do. A common example of transactional leadership is a marketing team receiving a predetermined bonus at the end of the quarter for generating a certain number of leads.

When starting a job with a transactional boss, you may receive an incentive plan motivating you to quickly master your daily job responsibilities. For instance, if you're in marketing, you might earn a bonus for sending out 10 marketing emails. On the other hand, a transformational leader might only give you a bonus if your work leads to a significant number of newsletter subscriptions.

Transactional leadership helps establish roles and responsibilities for each employee, but if employees know their efforts are worthwhile, it can also encourage minimal work. This leadership style can motivate employees with incentive plans, but they should align with the company's goals and use unplanned gestures of appreciation outside of them.

7.Coaching Leadership

Usually Effective Similar to a coach in a sports team, this leader focuses on identifying and nurturing the individual strengths of each member of their team. They also emphasize strategies to make their team work better together. This style shares many similarities with strategic and democratic leadership styles but places more emphasis on individual growth and success.

Instead of forcing all employees to focus on similar skills and goals, this leader might build a team where each member has different professional skills or abilities. In the long run, this leader focuses on creating a strong team that can communicate well and utilize each other's unique skills to get the job done.

Managers with this leadership style can help employees by offering new tasks to help them try, providing guidance or meetings for constructive feedback. They may also encourage one or more team members to expand their strengths by learning new skills from other teammates.

8.Bureaucratic Leadership

Rarely Effective Bureaucratic leaders lead by the book. This leadership style may listen to and consider employee input—unlike autocratic leadership—but if it conflicts with company policy or past practices, leaders tend to reject employee input.

You might encounter a bureaucratic leader in a larger, older, or more traditional company. In these companies, when a colleague or employee proposes a powerful strategy, seemingly new or non-traditional, bureaucratic leaders may reject it. Their resistance may stem from the company's success with current processes and trying new things might waste time or resources if it doesn't work.

Employees under this leadership style may not be subject to the control of autocratic leaders, but they still lack the freedom to do more in their roles. This can stifle innovation, absolutely not encouraging ambitious goals and rapid growth in the company.

How to Become a Good Leader?

Becoming a good leader is no easy feat; it requires a multitude of abilities and qualities. Here are some key factors:

1.High Emotional Intelligence:

  • Understanding oneself and others, adept at managing emotions, staying calm, and rational.
  • Possessing empathy, capable of understanding and empathizing with others' feelings and needs.
  • Having excellent communication skills, able to express thoughts and intentions clearly and effectively.

2.Strong Leadership:

  • Having a clear vision and goals, capable of inspiring and guiding the team towards objectives.
  • Making wise decisions and assuming corresponding responsibilities.
  • Effectively delegating tasks and empowering team members to unleash their potential.

3.Good Management Skills:

  • Being able to formulate reasonable plans and processes, and effectively organize and supervise the team's work.
  • Solving problems and handling conflicts, maintaining team harmony and stability.
  • Continuously learning and improving, constantly enhancing leadership capabilities.

4.Integrity and Honesty:

  • Leading by example, being consistent in words and deeds, setting a good example.
  • Respecting others, treating team members fairly and justly.
  • Having the courage to take responsibility and admit one's mistakes.

5.Humility and Inclusiveness:

  • Humbly listening to others' opinions and suggestions, constantly improving oneself.
  • Respecting the diversity of team members, being tolerant of different viewpoints and ideas.
  • Encouraging innovation and creativity, providing space for team members to showcase their talents.

    How to Improve Your Leadership?

    1.Clarify Self-awareness:

    • Understand one's strengths and weaknesses, play to strengths and avoid weaknesses.
    • Understand one's leadership style and adjust according to different situations.
    • Set clear goals and formulate corresponding action plans.

    2.Continuous Learning:

    • Learn leadership theories and knowledge.
    • Attend leadership training courses or seminars.
    • Learn from excellent leaders.

    3.Active Practice:

    • Seek opportunities to take on leadership roles.
    • Actively participate in team activities.
    • Learn and summarize experiences from practice.

    4.Emphasize Communication:

    • Able to express thoughts and intentions clearly and effectively.
    • Good at listening to others' opinions and suggestions.
    • Maintain good communication with team members.

    5.Empowerment and Motivation:

    • Believe in the abilities of team members and empower them accordingly.
    • Establish reasonable incentive mechanisms to stimulate the enthusiasm of team members.

    6.Team Building:

    • Foster a positive team atmosphere, promote cooperation among team members.
    • Help team members establish trust and respect.
    • Work together to achieve team goals.

    7.Reflection and Improvement:

    • Reflect on one's leadership behavior regularly.
    • Solicit feedback and suggestions from others.
    • Continuously improve one's leadership style.

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