September 02, 2021

Most Common Leadership Styles and Finding One That Fits You

Sam Caucci

Leaders come in more varieties than just good or bad. Leadership styles are not always straightforward, and leaders often find themselves changing their style as the years go by. But in order to become a better leader tomorrow, you will need to understand where you are today, so here are the most common leadership styles and how effective they are in today’s business landscape. 

The Importance of Knowing Your Leadership Style

Knowing your leadership style is critical in determining how you affect those under your influence. What do your direct reports think of you and do they think you are an effective leader? It’s always important to ask for feedback, but understanding your leadership style beforehand can be helpful to start out. 

This way, when you receive feedback you can decide if you want to adapt to a new leadership style and slowly introduce new characteristics in your daily management duties. Understanding your leadership style can also remove dependence on feedback. Every style of leadership will have its advantages and disadvantages, but this allows you to make improvements as you go. 

Common Types of Leadership Styles

Democratic

The democratic leader is exactly what it sounds like. They make decisions based on the input of every team member in the organization. While they might make the final call, there is an importance on having a say from everyone involved.

Democratic leadership can be one of the most effective styles of leadership because it allows employees from all levels of the organization to exercise authority which they need to use wisely in case of future positions that they might hold. This can also be how organizations make decisions during board meetings.

For example, a democratic leader might present a few decision-related options for employees or members of the board to choose from. Then they can have a discussion about each option, weighing out the pros and cons. After that, the leader might take the thoughts and feedback into consideration before they decide or they might base it on a vote. 

Transactional or Autocratic

Transactional leadership can be thought of exactly like a transaction: I give you something and you do this for me in return. This forms the basis of this type of leadership style. Transactional leaders will give out instructions to their team and then they will use rewards or penalties to recognize or punish what happens in response. 

For example, a leader will give out praise and recognition for a job well done, or they might make a team member handle a task that they despise because they slipped up and missed a deadline. These are both examples of rewards and penalties at the workplace. 

This type of leadership is highly directive and is often referred to as a “telling” leadership style with little input or wiggle room from the team. An advantage is that any confusion or guesswork is all but eliminated since tasks and expectations are clearly defined by the leader.

The disadvantage is you will end up with a rigid work environment and expectations, where creativity and innovation will not be able to thrive. 

Authoritative

Authoritative leaders are also known as visionaries. They want their teams to follow them and are usually the mark of a very confident leader who maps out the way and sets the course for expectations. At the same time they engage and encourage their followers along the way. 

In times of uncertainty, these types of leaders help give clarity to people. They help them see where the organization is headed and what is going to happen once they arrive. Unlike autocratic leaders, authoritative leaders will take time to explain their thinking rather than just issue orders. More importantly, they let team members have a choice in how to achieve common goals. 

Laissez-Faire

Want to be a lazy leader? Great, then the Laissez-faire leadership style is for you.

The French term “laissez-faire” translates directly to “let them do”, and leaders who embrace this type of style give nearly all of the authority to their team members. 

You might see this type of leadership in a young startup. For example, a laissez-faire company founder who enforces no major office policies around working hours or deadlines. They might fully trust their employees while they turn their attention to the overall workings of keeping the company running. 

Laissez-faire leadership can help empower team members by trusting them to do their jobs in whatever way they’d like, however, this can also work to limit their development and it can cause an overlooking of critical company growth opportunities. So it’s important that this leadership style is monitored closely. 

Coaching

The coaching leadership style is a very thoughtful approach that views people as a pool of talent to be developed. A leader who uses a coach approach has the goal of unlocking people’s true potential. 

Leaders who use this approach open up their doors and their hearts to people. They believe that everyone has power within themselves. The coaching leader gives a little direction to their team in order to help them gain their own ability to achieve their full potential. 

How to Choose Your Style

Knowing which leadership style best suits you is a part of being a good leader. Developing your own signature style with an ability to borrow from others as needed can help you enhance your effectiveness as a leader. 

The first step to picking a style is to know yourself and learn what makes up your current style of leadership. Ask your colleagues to help describe the strengths of your leadership style. Then, understand the common types of leadership styles out there so you can find out which works the best in any given situation. This will help you figure out what new skills you might need to develop.

Remember to practice and be genuine with any approach that you pick up. Moving from your current leadership style to another can be challenging in the beginning, but practicing new behaviors is key until they become second nature. 

At 1Huddle, we offer cloud-based employee gamification software that can easily adapt to any leadership style you want to implement at your organization. You can customize your content for a seamless experience and all of your employees will be able to access their training anywhere, anytime and at the push of a button. You can use our gamification platform to measure their performance and make key decisions on where you should take your gamification strategy next. 

Do you want to learn more about how 1Huddle can help you level up your own workforce? Leave your information on the Talk To Us Page and schedule a call.

Sam Caucci, Founder & CEO at 1Huddle

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