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Monday, 29 April 2013

Leadership Styles - Which Style Are You?

Part 1 of our #leadership series explores how leadership means different things to different people. At the moment in industry there is a focus away from #management and a shift towards leadership, but what does that actually mean?

I therefore thought I would explore some leadership styles. Below are a range of leadership styles - which style are you? An effective leader does not adopt one rigid style but flexes their style according to the business need.
Leaders Often Flex Their Leadership Style
Picture: pedrosimoes7
Authoritative - “Just Do It....!”

The authoritative leader believes in direct supervision in order to achieve deadlines and deliverables. They engage primarily in one-way downward communication, controlling discussions and dominating communications.


They establish themselves as the expert in the company, a visionary who sees the way forward. They believe in mobilising the team towards a common vision to achieve success. This leadership style is particularly effective in times when a new direction is needed, or for dangerous work, complicated tasks, or urgent short-term projects such as a company crisis.

This style of leadership is not the best fit when the leader is working with a team of experts who know more than they do. Also, since they take full responsibility for team decisions and review the team's outputs authoritative leaders are extremely busy, which can lead to high stress levels.

Authentic – “I Believe.....”
Authentic leaders are more interested in empowering the people they lead to make a difference than they are in power, money or prestige for themselves. They lead with purpose and meaning. They are credible and gain trust and respect, building collaborative relationships. Others follow them because they know where they stand.



Authentic leadership is in essence ethical leadership and it is claimed that it can lead to enhanced trust, job satisfaction and performance.



A drawback to authentic leadership is that personal values may conflict with company goals. This collaborative style may also slow down decision making.


Democratic – “What Do You Think?”

This style of leadership believes in sharing decision making with the group and encourages discussion, debate and sharing of ideas. A democratic leadership style invites the participation and contribution of team members towards the final decision-making process.  That process is run by the leader and they have a key role in shaping the final decision and resolving any differences. 


This leadership style is one of the most effective and creates higher productivity, contribution and morale. Democratic leadership can lead to better ideas and more creative solutions to problems because group members are encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas.
Democratic leadership works best in situations where group members are skilled and eager to share their knowledge.


While democratic leadership is one of the most effective leadership styles, it does have some drawbacks. In situations where roles are unclear, or time is short, democratic leadership can lead to communication failures and missed deadlines.


Hands Off – “You Take Care of the Issue While I.....”

Sometimes also described as the laissez faire style, this leadership style provides little or no direction, allowing for high degrees of autonomy. This type of leader ensures their door is ‘always open’ for consultation and discussion. They place a great deal of trust in team members to both understand and deliver what the whole team is driving towards. 


They provide assistance when requested but this style can sometimes result in a lack of productivity as team members may mistake or misunderstand what they are working towards, which can result in under performance.


Transactional – “Telling”

This style is used mainly by managers, as it can be time saving. Transactional leaders focus on motivating through a system of rewards and punishment. Management by exception allows the leader to maintain the status quo, intervening when acceptable performance levels are not met, initiating corrective action.


Treating work as a transaction ensures everyone knows where they stand. These type of leaders establish measurable criteria for evaluating tasks, reducing the emotion in decision making. Transactional leadership is therefore effective when there is clarity on what goals and objectives need to be accomplished and where there is little room for creativity and innovation.


The downside of this style of leadership is that it can be very impersonal, as it focuses on the completion of tasks and not on people.


Transformational – “Selling”

Transformational leaders use their strength of personality, their inspirational qualities and their persona to achieve significant changes in the behaviour of others, ensuring attainment of their vision or goals. They are charismatic and take risks, motivating others by setting a personal example.



Their influence is measured by the trust, admiration, loyalty and respect they inspire. This is reflected by their team working harder than originally expected because this leader has transformed and motivated them, through an inspiring mission and vision, giving them an identity.



Transformational leaders achieve the goals by inspiring and motivating followers and encouraging their initiative. Transformational leaders are able to create vision. They are able to establish a shared vision and sense of purpose among team members.



Coaching – “Try This”

The coaching leadership style focuses on developing others, with a view to enhancing their long term performance.  It creates a positive environment where both strengths and weaknesses are identified in order to improve overall effectiveness. A coaching leader recognises personal goals and career aspirations within their teams.


They create a positive workplace environment with people knowing exactly what's expected of them, which they are able to relate back to the overall strategy of the company.


Coaching leaders are very effective in settings where performance or results need improvement.  The coaching leadership style is most effective when followers are more responsible, experienced, and motivated.


This coaching style is not effective when the culture does not support change or learning, or if the leader lacks expertise. The approach can also be time consuming.