5 Leadership Styles and How to Find Your Own

Every individual has a distinct leadership style. So, whether you are in charge of five, fifty thousand, or nobody, your approach to leading and managing depends on your personality and how you communicate with others.

Once you know your personal style, you can gradually improve on your existing style or adapt other different styles. Some leaders struggle because they do not understand how to set up a link between themselves and their teams, which eventually leads to a lot of chaos in the business. You will become a better leader if you understand the different leadership styles and how they can benefit you and your team.

  1. Autocratic leadership (Authoritarian)

In an autocratic environment, the leader makes decisions without consulting the rest of the team. This authoritarian leadership style takes the “my way or the highway” approach.

Autocratic leaders believe they have absolute power and make decisions for their subordinates. They decide not only what must be done but also how those tasks must be completed.

Pros: Autocratic leaders make quick and confident decisions, keep the team on track, and are thus excellent assets in a crisis.

Cons: Employees under this type of leadership may feel ignored, demoralised, and, in the worst-case scenario, abused.

You might be an autocratic leader if:

  • You believe that group discussions and brainstorming only slow down things and you prefer making critical decisions alone.
  • You dislike it when employees question your decisions. And once you’ve said something, it’s final.
  • Democratic leadership (Participative)

This type of leadership is the polar opposite of autocratic leadership.

Democratic leaders value their colleagues’ ideas and contributions and open up most decisions to debate, making employees feel valued and appreciated. They don’t believe in giving orders instead prefer to work together to get things done.

Pros: Leaders in this style encourage creativity and innovation, which improves job satisfaction among employees and team members.

Cons: In some cases, democratic leaders may appear indecisive, as if they lack confidence in their ability to make a decision. Furthermore, constantly attempting to reach a group agreement can be inefficient, time-consuming and at times, costly.

You might be a democratic leader if:

  • You believe that the best meetings are those in which everyone has an equal opportunity to participate.
  • You can’t remember the last time you made a major decision without consulting at least a single person.
  • Delegative leadership (laissez-faire)

This leadership is the exact opposite of micromanagement and follows a “hands-off” approach.

Laissez-faire leaders believe in giving their subordinates autonomy and creative freedom. They provide necessary tools and resources and then step out to let their workers set their own schedules and make decisions.

Pros: This level of trust and independence is encouraging and empowering for creative and self-motivated teams.

Cons: Chaos and confusion can arise quickly, especially if a team is not organised or self-directed. Some employees require more direction than others and may struggle to keep up with the team if the leader is too laissez-faire.

You might be a delegative leader if:

  • You’re involved only at the beginning and the end of most tasks and projects.
  • In project status update meetings, you hardly ever speak. Instead, your team members keep you updated on the tasks and progress.
  • Transactional leadership (managerial)

Transactional leadership follows a “give-and-take” approach.

A transactional leader values order and systems and sets goals for employees as well as the rewards and penalties for meeting or failing to meet those goals.

Pros: Under this leadership, confusion and guesswork are eliminated because the leader clearly defines tasks and expectations.

Cons: This rigid leadership style suppresses team members’ creativity and ingenuity. Transactional leaders are less likely to empathise or bend the rules to accommodate individual employee needs.

You might be a transactional leader if:

  • You often use the threat of having to stay late when you need to motivate your team.
  • You’re always thinking of new ways to recognise good work.
  • Transformational leadership (Visionary)

This style encourages individual workers to explore new ideas, achieve goals, and improve outcomes by combining emotions such as empathy, enthusiasm, and praise. Under this leadership, employees have a lot of freedom and room to think outside the box.

Pros: Leaders can instil trust in their employees and rally them around a common vision or end goal.

Cons: This soft leadership style can appear distant and insincere in large organisations.

You might be a transformational leader if:

  • You’re constantly encouraging others to step outside their comfort zones and test their boundaries.
  • You feel proud whenever your team member achieves something that was considered impossible.

So, now that you are familiarised with the different leadership styles you know which one suits your personality trait. You can choose from different other styles after weighing the pros and cons.

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