A leader is somebody who influences or guides other people through their own actions and behaviors. In August, we discussed what type of leadership style you might follow.

Being a good leader means knowing how to adjust your style of leadership depending on who you are managing. Not everybody on your team will respond the same way to the same type of guidance. For this reason, many companies have new employees take personality tests to see what leadership style is best to help them. One example is a test called The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It is a questionnaire that is filled out by the employee and the result displays how each person perceives the world and makes decisions. This is a great way for a leader to know how to approach and engage everybody on their team, depending on the leadership style they choose.

One type of leadership style is called democratic leadership. This is also known as the shared or participative style. For this method, team members are very active in the decision-making process every step along the way of a project. It is a great environment for encouraging creativity but it can also be hard to get everyone to agree all of the time, which may slow down a timeline and raise costs.

Transactional leadership is another style that encourages effort, this time by using a reward and punishment system. Employees are praised for doing a good job, which motivates people in the short-term. However, there is less overall creativity because there is more of an organized schedule overall. 

The coaching style of leadership focuses heavily on empathy and encouragement. A leader makes a strong effort to get to know each employee’s strengths and weaknesses personally.  There is always a trade-off when a leader takes the time to personally engage his staff, and that means productivity might suffer. 

By contrast, there’s bureaucratic leadership. Employees are directed to follow specific instructions given to them from their leaders. This can be highly efficient and save a company a lot of money, but the employee morale is not that high because people do not feel like they are being heard. It is also very easy to stay stuck in old, traditional methods of doing things.

There is one leadership style that is stricter – the autocratic leadership style. There is minimal to no input from lower group members because a higherup individual makes all of the decisions. Productivity is very high and workers receive very fast feedback about any questions. The downside is similar to what happens in bureaucratic leadership teams.