There are several types of leadership styles and trust me, I have come across most. What I find fascinating is that often leaders ‘think’ they’re certain type, but when we drill down, they’re often not. This is where we start to unravel traits, ingrained and learned, and perceived perception to build a more accurate picture. Through some discussion and discovery it’s quite easy to tell what your leadership style is.
What leadership styles are there?
There are generally around 13 types of leadership styles with many models presented. Generally, the ones which are referred to usually are:
- Transformational – an emphasis on change and inspiration with integrity and vision at the heart of all they do
- Transactional – a style that relies on rewards and punishments to achieve tasks
- Servant – a style focusing on the needs of staff and sees leaders gaining awareness into their own styles and purpose
- Autocratic – leaders who make decisions without consulting team members
- Democratic – leaders who make the final decisions but include team members in the process
- Laisse-faire – a style which delegates and is the least intrusive type of leadership
- Bureaucratic – leaders that follow the rules religiously and implore their teams to do the same
- Charismatic – similar to transformational, with the difference being intent. Charismatic leaders are often self-serving and not focused on the greater good of the team
- Pacesetting – leaders who are driven to get results can often result in a punishing workload and schedule for the team
- Ethical – leaders who have the concept of fairness front and centre and treat all with respect and honesty
- Affiliative – a people-first mindset creating collaborative relationships and being an emotional support for their team
- Coaching – a leader working with individual to develop their strengths, always with an eye on the bigger picture
- Situational – see below as we’ve saved the best until last…
Applying situational leadership
Now, as with everything, many leaders can portray a mixture of many styles. But there does seem to be always one that outweighs the others. And the most appropriate style for a strong leader is ‘situational’. This leader varies their style according to the situation at hand and employs different tactics to get the best results for their team and business.
Often leaders are convinced they are a certain type. However, seeing them in action and speaking to their teams, this often produces a very different outcome. Really testing yourself whether you’re a situational leader or biased to another type which may come out when you’re under stress is key to understanding what your leadership style is.
The good, the bad and the ugly
If you think back to your own experiences of being led, I am sure that we can all remember experiencing a transformational leader. This would have been someone who really inspires and achieves above and beyond the goals that are set. These are often the people who are classed as thought leaders, the people at the top of their game, paving the way for others.
On the other hand, leaders portraying traits such as autocratic and laisse-faire can infuriate their teams by lacking inclusion or support. People with these leaders often leave their jobs for a more satisfying role and management style.
Understanding how you can tell what your leadership style is
When I work with leaders, the first thing we do is an honest assessment of their style and look at where the gaps are. This is not a naming and shaming exercise, far from it. Every leader has good traits, but it’s a process of unearthing their perception versus the reality. This means they can build a picture of what they need to do to be the best leader they can be. Not only does it benefit their team, but their role which should be in line with objectives, values and positioning.
Key areas like focus and concentration; communication and feedback; adaptability and flexibility; honestly and transparency; passion and drive are all looked at in light of how they inspire their teams without neglecting their natural leadership styles.
Looking out to look in
All leadership styles can be learnt with practice and discipline and my role is often setting up the structure to do just that. A good exercise I often use with my clients is to look at the leaders they admire. They could be in the workplace or world famous, but by looking at why we admire them, it’s an opportunity to examine their characteristics. It’s often easier to spot the traits we admire in others which are actually present in ourselves.
If you’re a leader and think I could help you hone your style, please do get in touch.