Great leaders are behind a success of great businesses. There are various types of leadership styles that can help you lead your business and team members as well as to develop leaders yourself.
You may have heard the phrase “Leaders are born not made” and if you’re like me, that sentiment is a bit unsettling. While there are definitely inherent personality characteristics that might help us lead a team. Although, some are more likely to step up and take the reins than other, this idea ignores our ability to learn and grow as individuals. Moreover, leadership requires adjustments based on the situation, the team and the vision for the future. How do you think the greatest leaders of the past 100 years would fare running your organization in 2019?
The question is unfortunately impossible to answer and since we don’t have the time to argue Nature vs. Nurture at length, let’s cut to the chase - whether or not you think of yourself as a “leader” or not, there are things you can do to be effective at leading when the time comes. This happens by understanding the types of leadership styles and your own strengths and applying them appropriately. While there are millions of dollars and research poured into understanding leadership that can point us in the right direction, at the end of the day the practical, observable behaviors of a leader are more art than science.
Firstly, let’s talk a little about leadership because it is often confused with management. While the two are related and leaders do need to be able to manage people and projects they are not one and the same. Consider what Dwight Eisenhower said about leadership: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Think of management as the day-to-day, getting things done skills and leadership as the inspirational and motivational aspects that help us understand why we’re doing what we doing and supports us in our efforts.
Now we can discuss the most common types of leadership styles and for that we will draw for Daniel Goleman who wrote about the leadership styles that get results:
First we have authoritarian leadership, and as the name implies it focuses on control and chain of command to achieve results. While you don’t have to be a dictator to use this style, authoritarian leadership style certainly inv olves direct supervision, unwavering support of the message from leadership, and more one-sided feedback and communication than other styles.
Next is paternalistic leadership, which could rightly be renamed parentilistic (if that were a word), because the idea is centred around treating subordinates as a parent would. Proponents of this style would posit that creating a close-knit relationship based on trust will lead to higher loyalty and commitment rates because of a shared connection.
Democratic leadership builds upon the notion that a leader isn’t someone who necessarily knows everything about everything, but is someone who is willing to listen to others, able to synthesise opinions and concede to popular opinion within reason and when backed up by evidence. Using this leadership style can lead to more group buy-in as members feel they have a voice, but only works best when everyone has knowledge or skills to contribute and are willing to.
Once again, borrowing from the political and/or economic behavioural science, laissez-faire leadership can be described as leaders who allow their followers to do work and make decisions as they see fit, with little direction or restraints from the leader. Although at times we do have groups who are mostly self-sufficient, laissez-faire can border upon not being a leader at all if we are not providing enough of a vision or incentive for team members to do their part.
Transactional or exchange leadership is built around rewards and punishments. Like a carrot and a whip, this binary style presumes that good outcomes and bad outcomes are influencing by either the fear of punishment or the anticipation of a reward. You can think of the relationship between leader and follower as process or transaction that has set rules and outcomes and doesn’t particularly concern itself with outside pressures or environmental factors.
Finally, transformational leadership is in some respects the opposite of transactional leadership. While the transactional leader is more concerned with keeping the status quo and only adjusting one or two factors to get results, the transformational leader is open to understanding what needs to be done to truly inspire followers and is willing to step outside their comfort zone and change how things are done to motivate others. This style is more focused on relationship building, charisma and inspiration to get other on board with the big picture and thus be convinced to complete their individual contribution.
Six is a nice, even number but the truth is these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to leadership styles. And while there is a lot more reading you can do on them, you’ve come here for the most effective leadership style that you can start using right now. So what is it??
You may have seen this coming, but the right answer is there is no right answer. All of these styles can be effective, given the right context. The most effective style will definitely depend on your skills, the situation, and the people who will be looking to follow you. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from these styles.
You are. Really. It may not feel that way and you might think you’re not ready, but we all have the ability to lead. It really comes down to the “why.” After all, it’s pretty difficult to convince somebody else to do something if you can’t even explain why it should be done in the first place. You will see your style shine through when you’re really excited about doing something and it is easy to engage others into being a part of it.
Ready to learn more about how you can engage others at your organization? Get in touch to chat about how PeopleGoal can help at [email protected] or subscribe to our newsletter for more tips and ideas.