Over the course of your life, you are bound to encounter many leaders, each with their own unique leadership style.
While some may be inspiring and efficient, others put forth a lackluster effort and get mediocre results.
You may be curious about the best leadership practices to utilize in your own business. Whether you are a manager or a CEO, developing leadership skills will become critical to your success.
This article will cover the wide array of leadership styles and will help you find a suitable style.
Leadership Styles – Theory and The Importance of Developing Them
Leadership styles are the techniques one can use to influence people. Anyone can be a leader. Yes, even those without a C-Level position can have a major influence on the other’s behaviors.
However, holding a senior position forces an individual to work on their management skills. Don’t hold off on learning how to lead until later in your life.
Choosing your leadership style early on in your career has a multitude of benefits. Over half of employers surveyed by Indeed stated that the best indication of a candidate’s ability to succeed came from asking about leadership skills.
This makes leadership qualities a top priority for most employers. Over time, your coworkers and senior staff will likely influence your idea of leadership. Their own style of leadership may become familiar to you, so you may be drawn to replicate it.
Ultimately, there is no one leadership style that you will use all the time. You will need to use each technique during appropriate situations. By familiarizing yourself with these leadership methods, you may discover one that is particularly appealing to you.
Then, you can begin utilizing it in your workplace and ask for the feedback of others to grow your skills. Learning when to use each style is as important as developing a main style, though.
Be sure to incorporate some of the methods below for a more balanced approach to leading.
10 Leadership Style Types – Pros & Cons with Examples
Coaches have a knack for identifying their team’s strengths and weaknesses. They motivate the group as a whole, but still devote time to individual improvement.
Coaches teach their team to never back down from a challenge, which promotes growth and team work. They create a positive and motivating work environment and stress the importance of communication and trust between their team members.
The main drawback to using this style is that it is very time consuming, as it involves learning about every individual’s skills. You must be heavily involved in your team’s work to use this style.
Traits of a Coach:
- Challenging the team to help everyone grow
- Extremely helpful, but also wish for the team to be independent
- Value learning
- Open minded to suggestions
- Great listeners
Benefits: Coaches create a positive and open-minded work environment. They encourage the independence of a team and instill confidence into their team members by focusing on their strengths.
Many employees will develop long-lasting relationships with coaches.
Drawbacks: This style may not be suitable for a fast-paced work environment, for it is time-consuming. Coaches are also more prone to burnout.
Visionaries are result oriented and innovative leaders. They earn the trust of their team through consistently inspiring them and developing new ideas.
Visionaries also stress the importance of organization and believe that confidence is necessary to their colleague’s success.
Usually, visionaries are associated with startups or smaller yet innovative startups. They are also found at larger companies which are experiencing an ownership change.
Traits of a Visionary:
- Not afraid to take risks
- Strategic planning for growth
- Inspire others
Benefits: Since they are growth focused, visionaries are great startup leaders. They unite teams behind a shared purpose and bring new ideas into the workplace.
Drawbacks: Visionaries struggle to see people on an individual level. They may miss certain details because they focus on the big picture.
Sometimes, team members may feel powerless because the visionary focuses mostly on the future, and does not wish to dwell in the present or past.
Servants see their employees as people first, and as employees second. As a result, they wish for their team members to feel fulfilled.
Since they emphasize the importance of satisfaction, Servants are easy to speak with and are respected among workers.
These leaders are most commonly found in nonprofits. They ensure people are engaged in their work and keep everyone motivated to make a difference in the world.
Traits of a Servant:
- Have a people first mindset
- Encourage collaboration over competition
- Care deeply about their cause
- Are great communicators
- Value constructive feedback
Benefits: Through focusing on collaboration and ensuring every team member is passionate, Servants dramatically increase productivity and work satisfaction. They reduce turn over as well, as many employees stay loyal to them.
Drawbacks: Servants are selfless and are prone to overwhelming themselves with tasks.
Being authoritative or strict does not come naturally to these leaders either, so it is difficult for them to demand work. They may become too focused on the team and forget about long term goals.
These leaders are very efficient and authoritative, stopping at almost nothing to reach their goals. They trust few individuals and often make decisions alone.
Employees are expected to perform their duties with perfection. Autocratic leaders are often found in industries with strict regulation, such as medicine or artificial intelligence.
Individuals may feel confined or limited if they work under an autocratic employer. However, this additional supervision can be beneficial for inexperienced workers.
Traits of an Autocratic Leader:
- Goal oriented
- Self confident
- Motivated by results
- Delegate tasks efficiently
- Set clear expectations
- Supervise employees
- Value structure, control, and consistency
Benefits: Autocrats ensure the rules are understood and are followed. They make decisions by themselves, thus saving employees time.
Workers also tend to be more productive under authoritative bosses.
Drawbacks: Some employees may become disinterested in their work, as their input is not valued by autocratic leaders.
They may not be a welcoming environment, and some leaders may become overwhelmed with the control they possess as autocrats.
Laissez-Faire or Hands-Off Style
Hands off leaders provide little supervision to their team, and simply focus on achieving a certain result by a due date. In essence, they are the opposite of the autocratic leader.
Many employees feel free under laissez-Faire leaders, for they are not being micromanaged.
However, this style is usually only used under specific circumstances. It may be appropriate if your team is already experienced, and thus does not require additional training.
Since communication is not stressed by these leaders, many employees can become confused about goals or deadlines. Some are forced to find motivation from outside sources as well.
Traits of a Laissez-Faire Leader:
- Value freedom
- Promote independence
- Ensure team is equipped with sufficient tools
- Help others lead
- Offer feedback
- Create a relaxed atmosphere
Benefits: Many employees enjoy the added freedom and emphasis on self-sufficiently. They are allowed to express their creativity and are less likely to be stressed.
Challenges: This style is not appropriate for most junior staff or anyone who needs training before becoming more independent. Employees may report confusion from the lack of communication and may not feel supported.
The democratic style balances aspects of the Laissez-Faire and autocratic techniques. Democratic leaders seek input from their team before they make a decision.
This makes team members feel like they matter within the company, which leads to workplace satisfaction and increases in productivity.
However, Democrats also feel the need to be involved in their company. So supervision is not negatively viewed by these leaders.
Often, Democrats are found working in the techno, toy industry, for it emphasizes innovation, feedback, and open-mindedness.
Traits of a Democratic Leader:
- Interfere when necessary
- Flexible with schedule
- Value input and discussion
- Promote creativity
- Create an open-minded workforce
- Share information with their team
Benefits: Employees feel more satisfied and empowered when their voices are heard and valued.
This leadership style can be applied in a variety of situations, as it allows for employee freedom while still letting the manager make the final decisions.
Drawbacks: Obtaining and evaluating everyone’s can be a lengthy process.
Combine that with the discussion, debate, and organization needed to use this style, and you can see why it may become inefficient. Plus, some individuals may be more comfortable with minimal involvement in the decision making process.
Pacesetters enjoy work in fast paced environments and love obtaining results as quickly as possible. They value performance and efficiency.
Often, Pacesetters create challenges for their team to grow and keep up with their demands.
For many, working with a pacesetter int leader can help increase their productivity, improve their work ethic, and help them get motivated. Others, though, require mentorship and feel distressed in such an environment.
Traits of a Pacesetter:
- Set goals and achieve them
- Enjoy competition
- Value performance and efficiency
- Create challenges for teams
- Establish a fast paced work environment
- Are high energy and extroverted
Benefits: Pacesetters are certain to push employees to their limit, resulting in accomplishing a multitude of goals quickly. They force others to adapt to a dynamic environment and make decisions quickly.
Drawbacks: Most employees will not be used to such high standards and constant work, which leads to burnout and stress.
Working too quickly can result in poorly thought out decisions being made, especially for new staff members.
Like the Coach, transformational leaders believe that communication and goal setting are the keys to unlocking a team’s potential.
Transformers prefer to focus on group objectives as opposed to every team member’s goals.
These leaders avoid micromanaging and see the big picture. So, it is best to use this style when the team does not require immense surveillance.
Traits of a Transformer:
- Respect their employees, but demand respect back
- Encourage free thinking
- Inspire others
- Do not stress details and focus on big picture
- Allow others to be independent
- Skilled at organizing
Benefits: Transformational leaders trust their employees and encourage them to work hard. They see the company’s ethics as a reflection of themselves.
Both of these traits lead to a boost in employee morale and decreased turnover.
Drawbacks: Details are often overlooked by these leaders. They may forget to be authoritative when necessary.
Individuals with this leadership style focus on productivity, performance, and quality of output. They create incentives to encourage employees to work harder. Often, these incentives come in the form of money.
Transactional leaders are not afraid of punishing poorly performing workers. However, they do offer mentorship to those who may benefit from it.
This style is often utilized when obtaining a certain amount of customers, revenue, or profit is necessary. However, it is not commonly used long-term or in more creatively oriented industries.
Traits of a Transactional Leader:
- Enjoy competition
- React quickly
- Set goals and follow through
- Push others to their limits
- Enjoy structured environments
- Value authority
Benefits: This leadership style is best used in the short term to achieve clearly defined goals. It can lead to some employees rising to the challenge and improving their work ethic.
Drawbacks: Some employees will feel disconnected from the company mission, for their manager focuses mostly on competition. This is not a strategy that should be utilized long term for most businesses, for its effectiveness is decreased over time.
Team members may not be motivated by salary boosts alone, as many people will not feel fulfilled under such leadership.
Bureaucratic leaders create structured environments and ensure that team members follow the rules they create.
Often, these leaders create hierarchies to clearly define every individual’s role in the company. Collaboration is seen as unnecessary by Bureaucrats. Thus, their team members learn to become independent.
This leadership style is ideal for industries like healthcare or government, where clear hierarchies can be beneficial.
Traits of a Bureaucratic Leader:
- Value discipline
- Create competition
- Committed to accomplishing goals
- Strong work ethic
- Detail focused
- Create hierarchies and establish structure
- Delegate tasks effectively
Benefits: The team members benefit from the clear communication from their boss. They follow strict rules and are quite efficient under the Bureaucratic leader.
Such leaders also ensure employees are disciplined and understand to focus solely on accomplishing goals. This can be an effective leadership strategy in highly regulated industries.
Drawbacks: An employee’s creativity may be stifled and some will feel restricted by the strict structure. The hierarchies limit some individuals and prevent them from feeling motivated.
Avoid using this leadership style in dynamic environments, for Bureaucrats rarely change their mind.
How to Choose and Develop Your Type of Leadership
Take time to explore the way you interact with your colleagues.
Ask yourself about who has influenced the way you lead and communicate to better understand your thought process. Also, ask a friend or family member about your leadership strengths and weaknesses.
Understand Different Leadership Styles
Practice Using Multiple Techniques
You may become used to using only one leadership technique, but this is not ideal. Experiment by using multiple techniques.
If you believe you have poor leadership skills, you may have just not found the best leadership style for your personality.
Be sure to remain authentic and learn from any leadership mistakes you make, no matter what style you use.
Become an Agile Leader
Since workplaces are constantly evolving, you cannot keep your leadership style constant to all circumstances.
It is necessary to combine modern approaches with traditional ones to adapt your leadership.
Every day, you will be faced with new challenges. Thus, you will need to speak with your team to determine the most effective style to predominantly use.
Agile leadership is necessary for leading the teams of the 21st century.
How Hard is it to Change Your Leadership Style?
Now that you are familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of each leadership style, you may be interested in incorporating new styles into your leadership.
Luckily, it is fairly simple to change your leadership style, but it requires making consistent changes.
You need to identify inefficiencies in your current practices and swap them out for the style you would like to replicate.
To find your ideal style, try recreating techniques used by leaders that inspire you. It will help you find traits that you can implement. Do not worry about being imperfect at first.
Finding a suitable style takes time. So be sure to learn from your mistakes and quickly eliminate any inefficiencies that arise while you try to find your ideal leadership techniques.
Frequently Asked Questions About Leadership Styles
When Should I Use Different Leadership Styles?
This depends heavily on the specific circumstance. If someone is struggling with motivation, competition may be a great way to boost their morale, and so can an incentive.
Therefore, you need to learn about the different styles and speak with your team to determine when to use each style.
You should ideally focus on your team’s strengths and utilize strength based leadership skills.
Leadership Styles in Education
What are the 3 main leadership styles?
While each leader has their own unique leadership style, leadership experts categorize leadership techniques into 3 main styles. These are the autocratic, laissez-faire, and democratic styles.
The autocratic leader wants to constantly be in control. They give their team very little say in decision-making and often micromanage their team. Laissez-faire leaders take a hands off approach to leadership.
They rarely monitor their team and do not set clear boundaries, goals, or consequences as compared to the other two types. Often, they will simply delegate tasks and then expect team members to figure out the rest.
Democratic leaders allow their team members to have a say in task delegation and decision-making. Ultimately, though, the leader makes the final decisions.
Democratic leaders give employees freedom and privacy, but are not afraid to intervene when necessary.