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What Is Leadership And What Does It Mean To Be A Leader? What Skills Do Leaders Have?
“A great leader is one who is …”
How you complete the sentence above could tell which leadership style you have. So, what are leadership styles? They simply refer to a leader’s behaviors and methods when directing, managing, and motivating others. They also determine how a leader develops and implements his vision while working in collaboration with their stakeholders and team members.
Because leadership is all about evolving, changing, and improving for the best interests of our team and organization. So, if we lead for a long time, we’ll keep modifying the sentence above.
How to Be an Effective Leader: Find Your Leadership Style
It’s crucial to know your leadership style because only then can you assess how you influence people under your direct command.? Also, whether or not they consider you an effective leader? Thus, you must know your leadership style to be an effective leader.
Types of Leadership
We need to know different leadership styles to see what improvements should we make to perform better as a leader. There are eight most common types of leadership styles that we’re going to enlighten in-depth. Ready to know which leadership style you might have presently? Let’s check them out below.
Autocratic leadership involves an authoritarian leadership style. In this type of leadership, the leader will focus primarily on efficiency and results. They take decisions alone and expect the team to perform and achieve what they have asked. This is one of the widely used leadership styles in business and is most effective in compliance-heavy industries or organizations that follow strict guidelines and where extensive supervision is required.
It’s also effective when dealing with employees having little or no experience at all. The downside of autocratic leadership is that it can make people feel confined by throttling their creativity. We might think of a military commander to understand an autocratic leadership.
Characteristics of an Autocratic Leader:
- Followers of rules
- Great supervisors
- Working in highly structured environments.
Also known as “Hands-off Leadership” – Laissez-Faire leadership is exact opposite to Autocratic leadership. In this leadership, leaders mostly focus on delegating tasks to employees and provide little or no supervision whatsoever. Because, leaders don’t invest much time managing employees, they spend time on other projects.
This is one of the best modern-day leadership styles in management where all team members are well-trained and highly experienced and require little or no supervision. Since it encourages a relaxing work environment, creativity, and accountability; employees’ retention rates are higher.
The downside is that it doesn’t work well when fresh employees need extensive hands-on support and guidance in the beginning.
Characteristics of a Laissez-faire Leader:
- Non interventionist
- Controlling if and when needed
- Providing sufficient tools and resources
- Encouraging a sovereign work environment
- Doing constructive criticism
- Fostering leadership qualities in their team
Also known as “participative leadership” – democratic leadership combines both the autocratic and laissez-faire types of leadership. As the name indicates, this type of leadership involves input and feedback from the team before making decisions. This leadership is most effective since employees feel that their contribution matters. They feel more empowered, unified, and valued. Because they are a part of every decision-making process, they know how to perform well to achieve the tasks.
The downside of democratic leadership is that it’s time-intensive (organizing big group meetings and discussions). Hence, it becomes costly. Also, some employees might feel pressured because they don’t like to share their ideas in a big group setting.
Characteristics of a Democratic Leader:
- Encouraging group discussions
- Encouraging a democratic work environment
- Communicative while making decisions
In coach-style leadership, the leader quickly recognizes the strengths, and weaknesses of individual team members and coach them according to their needs. Leaders help people in setting smart goals and provide regular challenging projects and feedback to promote growth. This type of leadership is one of the most advantageous leadership styles in business for promoting free-thinking, empowering, developing new skills, revisiting organizations’ objectives, and fostering a strong company culture.
On the other hand, the downside of the coach-style leadership is that it’s a time-intensive practice. So, the leaders have to put in more one-to-one time with their team members, which could be hard to achieve in deadline-driven environments.
Characteristics of a Coach-Style Leader:
- Guiding instead of commanding
- Asking guided questions
- Promoting learning for growth
Bureaucratic leadership goes by the books. This type of leadership is very much similar to autocratic leadership except that the employees must follow the rules, regulations, and procedures; precisely written in the company’s policy. There is little or no space for creativity and collaboration for the team since all employees have fixed duties and responsibilities.
This leadership style is effective in organizations that follow strict regulations such as government, health care, or finance departments. The downside of this type of leadership is that it doesn’t encourage freedom and creativity so the employees can feel restricted.
Characteristics of a Bureaucratic Leader:
- Committed to their organization
- Following rules and structures
- Having great work ethics
Strategic leadership is also known as “visionary leadership”. The strategic leaders are exceptionally capable of driving progress by inspiring people and winning trust for their inspirational ideas. They foster confidence and establish a strong bond among their team members. Strategic leadership is especially effective in smaller, fast-growing companies, or larger corporates going through restructuring or transformations.
The downside of visionary leadership is that because leaders are more future-oriented and accustomed to seeing the big picture, they tend to ignore present-day issues so there are chances that their team might feel unheard.
Characteristics of a Strategic Leader:
- Innovative and Inspirational
- Bold and Persistent
Transactional leadership is one of the most common leadership styles in management. A transactional leader is focused on the performance of the employees and gives them bonuses for exactly the goals they accomplish. This leadership style is effective for organizations, which are tasked with achieving short-term, targeted goals, such as revenue and sales.
The downside of transactional leadership is that being too much focused on short-term goals, and ignoring lasting achievements; a company might have to face tough circumstances. It also throttles creativity and is uninspiring for the employees who don’t get monetary incentives.
Characteristics of a Transactional Leader
- Value short-term goals
- Don’t question authority
- Value organizational structure
- Practical and rational
- Transformational Leadership
is very much similar to coach-style leadership as it promotes employees’ motivation, goal-setting, and communication. However, transformational leaders are driven by their commitment to organizational goals, unlike coach-style leaders, for whom, employees’ individual goals matter. Since transformational leaders spend too much time on the principle goals, this leadership style is effective for employees who are multitasking and need no constant supervision.
The downside is that employees can’t receive the coaching required for new responsibilities because transformational leaders don’t look at the learning curves of each employee.
Characteristics of a Transformational Leader
- Understanding organizational needs
- Thinker of a big picture
- Intellectually challenging their team
How to Find Your Leadership Style
If you’re watching out for a good leadership path or searching for improvements in your leadership approach, choose any leadership styles that feel authentic to you! Ask yourself the following questions to decide which leadership style will fit you the most:
What do you value more – relationships or goals?
Do you believe in organizational structure or creativity and freedom of choice?
Do you focus on short-term goals or long-term goals?
Would you rather make collective decisions or decide on your own?
What’s a strong team dynamic look like to you?
Does inspiration come from direction or empowerment?
Read through all the leadership styles while answering these questions. You will understand which style goes well with you. Consider the following strategies as well:
Experimentation: Try out different leadership styles in different situations and observe the outcomes. Show flexibility in modifying your approach.
Be authentic: Try to develop a leadership style that aligns with your strengths and helps them improve.
Seek guidance: Reach out to the experienced leaders and ask them which style worked for them and how they developed it.
Seek feedback: Seek feedback from your team members who you trust the most. Consider their honest opinions to help improve leadership.
Keep in mind, majority of the successful leaders borrows traits from different leadership styles to become an effective leader. By understanding all the styles and which style is suitable for each scenario outcomes, you can opt for the right leadership styles, going well with your status quo.
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