A multitude of leadership styles based on various theories have emerged over the last century. Some work well—most of the time yet now always—and some are a train wreck—most of the time but not always.
Most of the varied methods fit into one of these four categories:
- Trait Theories – What type of person makes a good leader?
- Behavorial Theories – What does a good leader do?
- Contingency Theories – How Does the Situation Influence Good Leadership?
- Power and Influence Theories – What is the Source of the Leader’s Power?
Let’s explore several of the most common leadership styles.
- Autocratic or Authoritarian Leadership
This type of leader provides clear, strongly communicated expectations in an atmosphere that focuses on command by the leader and control of the followers.
The pros: This style of leadership works well when decisions must be made quickly and with decisiveness. When the time or need for team input is neither available nor necessary, an autocratic leadership style is often best.
The cons: This method may create a hostile environment that pits followers against the leader or lend itself toward an abusive, bullying approach.
- Democratic or Participative Leadership
This approach relies on the leader to make the final decisions after gleaning input from team members whose creativity and engagement in the project are encouraged.
The pros: Said team members are known to exhibit excellent productivity and often express a high level of satisfaction with their involvement.
The cons: Quick decision-making can be hard to come by with this approach as the sharing of multiple opinions can lengthen the final process for arriving at a conclusion.
- Laissez-Faire or Delegative Leadership
This approach allows the team to make the decisions with little guidance from leadership.
The pros: Highly capable and motivated team members or qualified experts appreciate their level of responsibility with this leadership style.
The cons: If team members aren’t well suited to this approach, a lack of direction and progress as well as finger-pointing may lead to failure.
Thought by many to be the most effective leadership style for business situations, transformational leadership involves motivation by an authentic, empathetic, accountable person who effectively communicates a vision of the future, sometimes utilizing a reward system.
The pros: Productivity and engagement tend to be high as the leader’s high expectations and “walk-the-walk” example inspires loyalty and commitment.
The cons: Out-there ideas taken on in the name of innovation may put the company at risk.
- Servant Leadership
This more recently embraced leadership model seems to embrace tenets from each of the four category theories. The framework behind servant leadership is a “servant to all” rather than a “master” mentality adopted and exhibited by the leader whose focus is to build up others while pursuing benefit for the overall organization.
The pros: This mentality creates a positive culture and leads to high morale and levels of engagement by team members who in turn pull together to create lasting and effective initiatives.
The cons: This approach can take time to integrate fully, as a paradigm shift may be required throughout the entire company.
Chances are you see traits of yourself in more than one of the above noted leadership styles. That’s good as seldom does a single leadership style completely fit the bill nor will one approach work in the various situations a leader may face throughout a career.
Next week’s Leadership Styles: Part 2 post will speak to the need for adaptability.
Since 1898, B Loehr Staffing has been the go-to source for:
- Companies looking for team leaders, who will serve their valued customers well.
- Leaders looking for companies, who will recognize, respect and use their leadership abilities.
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