Many people want to advance into management positions as part of their professional growth. Knowing how to behave and react to situations as a leader can be tricky, but there are a variety of leadership styles that can guide you to create the results you want.
Depending on where you work, what the team is like, and various other factors will determine the types of leadership styles that you embrace. There is more than one way to be a good leader, and you may be asking, “what is your leadership style?” It will take time and practice to learn and get where you want to be.
Why is it necessary to develop a leadership style?
Leadership styles can vary from workplace to workplace depending on the team, the desired results, and what the business prioritizes. Taking on the challenge of being in a leadership position can mean taking the time to try different advice and methods to get you to a place where it feels natural and makes the most sense for your desired outcome. Since there are several distinct ways to be a leader, taking strategies from different leadership styles will make you a well-rounded manager.
Studying how successful leaders achieved their status can help you improve your approach to tricky situations. Understanding how top leaders develop innovative ways to handling their team can guide you with new ways of working and can challenge you to behave differently. Since there are several common leadership styles, including techniques from all of them will make you prepared to handle all kinds of circumstances.
What types of leadership styles are there?
There are many ways a leader can choose to use to guide their team, so let’s take a look at the top five most common leadership styles with examples of their processes.
1. Leaders with a vision
When a manager has a vision for what their organization and team can achieve, they are likely to encourage those around them to strive to reach their vision. Sharing goals about what the business and workers can potentially reach will create a togetherness within the team and will motivate everyone to be more productive and determined. Not only will this create a unity between leaders and team members, but it will also strengthen the entire leadership team to encourage each other to reach their goals.
This type of approach has been found to work best with smaller start-up teams, and for big businesses that are making big internal changes and are looking to start fresh.
The common traits of a visionary leader include:
- Positive thinker
Pros of a visionary leader: They create a team of togetherness that helps organizations with growth. They better businesses by modernizing equipment and processes.
Cons of a visionary leader: They may only see the long-term goal and may miss out on smaller achievements. This can cause a team to be unsatisfied, especially if current issues are being ignored.
Example: A manager creates a professional development plan to help employees improve their skills and knowledge so that they can grow within the organization. The main goal is to encourage employees to remain at the business, while still achieving their desires. The manager has created a survey to help employees figure out the path that makes sense individually and organizationally so that they get the specific training that is needed.
2. Leaders that coach
When a leader acts as a coach to their team, they can understand each staff member’s skills, areas of improvement, and the unique efforts that results in achievements. This leadership style allows the leader to get to know each of their team members, create SMART goals that make sense for their career path, gives assessments based on their tasks, and offers advice when encountering obstacles. Coaching leaders are able to develop a positive workplace with clear guidelines for each worker, where encouragement is encouraged between all.
The coaching leadership style is highly sought after as these personalities can elevate the business and the team members. However, this style can be pushed aside as it requires ongoing dedicated hours to elevate each individual of the organization.
The common traits of a coaching leader include:
- Guides others
- Love of learning
- Good listener and communicator
Pros of a coaching leader: A coaching leadership style can create a welcoming and encouraging environment where professional development is considered a key to success. They are known to guide and mentor their team members and keep an open-door policy where anyone can freely share feedback or ideas, allowing everyone to feel a stronger attachment to their leader and workplace.
Cons of a coaching leader: A leader that prefers to coach their team can require a lot of one-on-one time to develop the skills of each worker. Depending on the timeline to achieve the goals of the business, it may be more practical to look to a stricter and more ambitious leader.
Example: A CEO holds a meeting with her team to talk through the final outcomes of the past year and what the goals are for the next year. She goes through all the successes, obstacles, challenge areas, and where there is room for improvement.
The leader also congratulates those who deserve special recognition for going beyond expectations. Before the meeting is over, she offers an incentive to the employee who achieves the best results for the following year, which will challenge each member of the team to be productive and successful.
3. Leaders that use authoritarian leadership style
One of the most popular leadership styles in management is that of the authoritarian leader. This approach motivates their employees to increase their output by pushing them to hit or exceed expected targets. These types of leaders often make decisions on their own or rely on a few selected co-workers to assist with their plans. They are often direct and have the expectations on their team to accomplish their tasks without excuses.
An organization can find it beneficial to have an authoritarian leader because they are demand efficiency from the workers and make sure that everyone is complying with the necessary procedures. They are also great at organizing employees to follow orders, such as those starting an entry level job with minimal experience and work best when supervised. This leadership style can make employees feel restricted and can results in missed opportunities from those under the leader.
The common traits of an authoritarian leader include:
- Enjoys structure
- Strong sense of self
- Developed leadership skills
- Appreciates a controlled environment
Pros of an authoritarian leader: These types of leaders bring a powerful energy that motivates workers to hit or exceed their targets. They can distribute tasks in a way that increases output and offers structure to their workflow.
Cons of an authoritarian leader: Leaders who take on the challenge of increasing results can feel high levels of anxiety, since they are personally involved in achieving success. These leaders can make workers feel stressed and unhappy, since they are so rigid with structure that they stifle creativity or change.
Example: A factory gets a big order to complete in a limited timeframe, so the manager gathers all the workers and gives direct tasks to each person and what is expected from the team. The manager explains how they will accomplish their goal and precisely the steps to follow to ensure successful completion.
4. Leaders that have an easy-going and hands-off approach
Team leaders that have a hands-off approach do the opposite to that of an authoritarian leader, and rather prefers to assign duties to individuals and then allows them to complete their assignments on their own. Hand-off managers are able to accomplish bigger business goals since they are spending little to no time supervising their team.
Leaders will feel comfortable using this style if they have a self-motivated, well-trained team that is responsible and requires little to no supervision. The downside is that if the team is constantly left on their own, they can become less productive and may feel left in the dark about how to complete assignments. This can cause stress, especially to those that work best with clear guidelines and continual feedback.
The common traits of a hands-off leader include:
- Encourages self-sufficiency
- Allows individuals to make their own choices
- Provides training and development resources
- Will lead when necessary
- Promotes growth of leadership skills
- Offers workable feedback
Pros of a hands-off leader: This style of leadership promotes team members to take responsibility for achieving their own goals, allows them to take their own approach, and offers tools that allow them to try new techniques. This kind of freedom at work can help retain workers longer, since there is more flexibility.
Cons of a hands-off leader: In some cases, a hands-off leader can frustrate workers who may not have the experience or know-how to handle tasks without clear guidelines. Without directions and hands-on leadership, some team members may feel unsure of their work and could impact productivity.
Example: A manager hires new members to their marketing team and informs them that they are free to organize their days in a way that works best for them, so long as they accomplish their tasks and targets. The new hires are also encouraged to include time in their schedules for professional development trainings and to work with others to achieve shared goals.
5. Leaders that use a participative leadership style
This style of leadership meets in the middle of authoritarian and hands-off approaches. Participative leaders include the feedback and ideas of all the workers when making choices that impact the entire team. Employees tend to feel appreciated and respected since their thoughts, feelings, criticisms are taken seriously under a participative leader and creates a stronger, more effective team.
Participative leadership works by encouraging out-of-the-box thinking and involvement from all to push for more growth. This style is often practiced in artistic and forward-thinking industries who continually need to release unique products.
The common traits of a participative leader include:
- Open and good communicator
- Pliable to new approaches
- Logical thinker
- Appreciates team discussions
- Encourages democratic environments
Pros of a participative leader: When a team has a participative leader, they are more likely to feel positively towards their work since it creates a stronger bond between workers. Employees tend to be more efficient and self-motivated since the work environment is an encouraging space. Workers will require less supervision since they were part of the work plan and are aware of what is expected of them.
Cons of a participative leader: If an organization does not have the time to spend to meet regularly to share ideas and may rather be a costly and consuming approach. It may also negatively impact employees who may be less creative and open to share their thoughts in front of others.
Example: An advertising executive builds a team of highly trained agents. When a contract comes in to create a design for a new campaign, he leaves the details to be figured out by his team and is available if the team needs him for final decisions or to offer feedback.
Which leadership style will work for me?
If you are trying to decide between the different leadership styles, it can be a challenge to find the one that works best for your situation. It can be easier to think about how you would normally handle situations and what you expect from your team and go with the style that comes naturally to you. To find out what is your leadership style, consider the following questions:
- Do you prefer structured or hands-off approaches?
- Do you care about achieving goals or strengthening teams?
- Do you prefer individual or team decision-making?
- How does your ideal team function?
There is no right or wrong style to take as a leader, and you can pick and choose from various styles as well. Try out different approaches to find the leadership style that works best for you.