Read my quick guide to the different leadership styles and assess which is right for you.
Leadership is not a one-size fits all situation. It’s also not a one-size fits all situations. One minute you might need to be quite directive in a safety
situation and the next more open and collaborative in a team workshop.
Learning about the different leadership theories can help you to choose what’s right for most work situations and help you understand your dominant style
in a deeper way. It can also help you see any areas where you might need more leadership support to achieve your goals.
There are many different theories out there about leadership. Here I’ve summarised what I feel are the most common and useful styles to know about and
what I feel is the best leadership style for modern business
1. Autocratic or Bureaucratic
This is where the leader makes decisions without consulting team members. This is useful where quick decisions need to be made, rules need to be followed
rigorously or where tasks are performed routinely e.g. safety decisions, mass production.
However, if this is your dominant style, team members will eventually feel disengaged and disempowered, which can lead to a lack of loyalty, absences and
increased staff turnover.
Here a leader still makes the final decisions but includes the team in the decision-making process. The team can input, share ideas and work collaboratively,
with the leader making the final call.
This leadership style helps staff to feel like their input and work is valued and can lead to increased loyalty and productivity. This is the first step
towards ‘Transformational leadership’
A leader is classed as a ‘servant leader’ when he or she is solely focused on meeting the needs of the team. This builds on some elements of the democratic
model but can lead to a lack of direction and even respect from team members.
There are times when meeting the needs of the team should be a leader’s primary focus, but you musn’t also lose sight of the vision of the company and
the path to getting there. It’s about finding a balance between that direction of travel and team satisfaction.
Charismatic leaders are often very visionary and build rapport easily with their team. They are good fun and can often lead a business to success.
The danger here lies in the motivation behind decisions and direction. Charismatic leaders have a tendency to make decisions that are in their self-interest
or to save face. This can sometimes mean a business can be steered onto a different course. In a good economy, businesses led by charismatic leaders
can often be highly successful but there is always an inherent risk with this leadership style as the decisions aren’t based on integrity.
This brings leadership down to the basic level of paying staff for work and rewarding performance with money. Of course, this is at the basis of any employer-employee
relationship but we know that it’s what else we construct on top of this that builds a real team, staff satisfaction and motivation.
It’s therefore important that any transactional communication is formed as part of a wider discussion with your team member about how they are ‘feeling’
and allowing them the space to speak openly about their life and work. Building in a personal element to any performance system is an important step.
6. Laissez-Faire moving to Self-Management
Laissez-Faire is a more modern concept of leadership with only top-level support or direction given by the leader. The team operate freely and manage their
own time, workload and direction.This gives incredible flexibility and creativity to staff and can result in high satisfaction and productivity for
engaged staff. This works well in creative organisations such as marketing or design and was famously employed by Steve Jobs at Apple. The only risk
comes in when team members aren’t self-motivated or knowledgeable enough and when the top-level support isn’t enough to give some structure to the
direction of the company
There are some organisations who are taking this approach to the next level where there are no managers and no hierarchy. This concept of self-management
is one to watch in the future as there are some excellent case studies of companies thriving using this style of non-leadership and I’m interested
to see how it develops.
This last leadership style brings together elements of all the above but adds three key ingredients – integrity, emotional intelligence and vision.
When you combine those three ingredients with a mainly democratic style of leadership, I really feel this is the recipe for success.
Team members are allowed the creative freedom to manage their work autonomously within a structure that they feel they have input towards. They know that
their leader understands them as a person, not just a transaction and importantly the staff are fully engaged in the vision of the business. It is
a shared vision.
How do you find the right leadership style for you?
You might have spotted yourself in one or many of the 7 leadership styles. I can imagine that, like me, you’re drawn towards the concept of ‘Transformational
Leadership’ and the steps to implement this in your business.
My unique online Business Freedom Program focuses on just this.
I teach you the key ingredients to becoming a successful leader with vision, integrity and your team at the heart of everything you do. I teach you
how you can build a long-term profitable business based on these essential values.
As part of the 6-month weekly training, I provide you with swipe files for recruitment and management so you feel supported in onboarding and retaining
staff and in the important elements of managing a happy and productive team.
In this training, I also support you personally to develop your emotional IQ so you can truly grow as a transformational leader and importantly the systems
to allow you to seek a good work-life balance and freedom from the chains of traditional leadership.