Most people have some leadership skills or qualities that are essential to a good leader, but few people take the time to consider what their personal leadership style is. Knowing your leadership style can help you engage more productively with your employees at work. Familiarity with other leadership styles can allow you to choose the appropriate style with specific employees or in particular situations. Sometimes reaching a goal will require you to utilize several different leadership styles. An awareness of the different leadership styles may also help you work better with your own boss. 

If you search Google for leadership styles, you’re bound to find a wide range of styles, so where should you start? Let’s look at the ones that tend to show up the most in leadership theories. We’ll consider these to be the primary styles and focus on the qualities that underlie each. 

The Democratic Leader

The primary quality of this style of leadership is that all group members have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process. These leaders often encourage group members to discuss their ideas openly. Team members are asked for input and their feedback is considered before decisions are made in the democratic leadership style.

The Autocratic Leader

This style is essentially the opposite of the democratic leadership style. This type of leader makes decisions without seeking input from team members. Someone with an autocratic leadership style is focuses on results and efficiency. They expect employees to do what is asked of them. 

The Transformational Leader

Leaders with this style have a strong vision and seek to inspire others. This leader will motivate employees and push them to strive for improvement. People who are transformational leaders tend to set their sights high and work towards organizational objectives. This style focuses on clear communication and goal setting.

The Transactional Leader

Transactional leaders use rewards and incentives for reaching milestone goals. This style establishes clearly defined roles and responsibilities within a structure that motivates team members to achieve short-term organizational objectives. Transactional leadership focuses on performance. They may be inclined towards mentorship and training opportunities to help group members reach the goals of the organization. 

The Laissez-Faire Leader

This is a leader who takes a hands-off approach. They excel at delegating responsibilities, and they trust their team members to know what to do. They do not micromanage and hover over employees; instead, they expect employees to seek them out if they need assistance or clarification. Instead of focusing on directly supervising team members, they focus more heavily on the overall running of the company.

The Coach

This leadership style is focused on identifying individuals strengths and weaknesses and determines how to enable team members to work together. There is an emphasis on individual growth, and they offer employees feedback to help them succeed. These types of leaders can establish strong teams that communicate and function well together by acknowledging the role that each individual plays. 

This is just a small taste of the different leadership styles that exist. Each style comes with pros and cons. Based on your personal qualities and skill set, you can begin to determine where your style falls within these categories. Learning the different styles is just the first step in determining your leadership style. Defining your style and determining your strengths and weaknesses will help you to become a better leader overall.

Originally published on July 12, 2019