Your leadership style says a lot about you – even if you aren’t aware of it.
Your style can say that you’re take-charge, decisive, collaborative, creative, helpful, supportive, trusting or caring.
As an executive coach for cutting-edge startup founders and leaders at Fortune 1000 companies, people often ask me about leadership skills but rarely ask about leadership styles.
Most leaders aren’t aware of the different leadership styles and when they are most effective – and that leaders often need to change styles for different situations.
There are many different styles of leadership, and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.
In this blog post, we will discuss the seven most common leadership styles and what they say about the person who uses them.
I will also provide tips for improving your leadership skills in any situation.
The most important thing to remember is that there is no one “right” way to lead.
The best leaders are able to adapt their style to the situation and the team they are leading.
The key is to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses and those of your team so that you can use the most appropriate leadership style for each situation.
Common Leadership Styles
The seven most common leadership styles are:
- Autocratic/Directive Leadership Style
- Commanding/Authoritative Leadership Style
- Visionary Leadership Style
- Coaching/Supportive Leadership Style
- Democratic Leadership Style
- Laissez-Faire/Delegating Leadership Style
- Paternalistic Leadership Style
Autocratic or Directive Leadership Style
The Autocratic or Directive Leadership Style is one in which the leader makes all of the decisions and does not involve team members in the decision-making process.
This style is most effective when time is limited, when there is a clear need for leadership, or when the team isn’t skilled or experienced.
This style is often seen as more authoritarian and can lead to feelings of frustration and resentment from team members who may feel like their voice doesn’t matter.
If you use this style, try to explain your reasoning for making a particular decision so that team members understand why you made the decision.
However, try to be aware of how your team is feeling and allow for some discussion and debate before making decisions.
This style are can lead to tension and conflict and may not be effective when you need quick decisions.
The Autocratic Leadership style says that you are decisive and in control. It shows that you are confident in your ability to make decisions and that you are not afraid to take charge.
Commanding or Authoritative Leadership Style
The Commanding or Authoritative Leadership Style exhibits a high level of control and direction.
However, this style is more collaborative than the Autocratic style and allows for some input from team members.
In this style, the leader demands obedience from team members and expects them to follow orders without questioning.
This style is typically most effective in times of crisis or when you need to make quick decisions.
This style can be effective when there is a need for clear leadership, when team members are skilled and experienced, when there is a need for order and discipline, or when the team needs to be quickly mobilized for a task, but it can also be seen as bossy or autocratic.
With this style, people may feel like they are not being given enough freedom to do their jobs, and it can lead to burnout.
This style can also lead to tension and conflict within the team as team members may feel like they are not being treated as equals.
If you use this style, try to ensure that your orders are clear and make sure that everyone understands what is expected of them.
Also, try to balance this style with some of the other styles so that your team does not feel like they are being micromanaged.
What this style says about you is that you are a take-charge person who is not afraid to make tough decisions, but you’re open to some input from your team.
Visionary Leadership Style
The Visionary Leadership Style is focused on the future and involves developing a long-term vision for the team or organization and inspiring others to achieve them.
This style of leadership is often used in times of change or when an organization is trying to achieve something new.
This style is often associated with big ideas and innovation, but requires a lot of energy and can be difficult to maintain over a long period of time.
However, it is very effective in attracting followers and creating change, even ifit can be difficult to turn visionary plans into reality.
The challenges with the Visionary Leadership Style are that it can be difficult to maintain focus and direction if the vision is not clear, and this style can also lead to disillusionment if the vision does not materialize and people may not be motivated to follow someone who they see as being too idealistic.
If you use this style, make sure that you are able to communicate your vision effectively to your team and try to be realistic about what can be achieved, and make sure that your team knows what they need to do to help you achieve the vision.
The Visionary Leadership style says that you are creative, passionate, optimistic, and believe that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
Coaching or Supportive Leadership Style
The Coaching or Supportive Leadership Style is focused on helping others to grow and develop to reach their full potential.
This style involves giving employees the resources and support they need to succeed and providing guidance, feedback, and support to team members. It often results in high levels of motivation and productivity.
This style is helpful when the task at hand is difficult or complex. It requires empathy, as well as the ability to give constructive feedback.
It is a very effective leadership style, but it can also be time-consuming and requires a lot of patience.
If you use this style, make sure you take the time to get to know your team members individually to understand their strengths and weaknesses and make sure that you have sufficient time to invest in your team. Also, be prepared to offer lots of encouragement and positive reinforcement.
What this style says about you is that you are patient, supportive, and helpful.
Democratic Leadership Style
The Democratic Leadership Style involves sharing power and making decisions through consensus.
This style is often used in team-based settings or when everyone needs to be involved in the decision-making process.
It can result in high levels of motivation and buy-in from team members, but it can also be time-consuming and may lead to conflict if not managed properly.
This style is best used when the team is highly skilled and motivated, and when there is a need for buy-in from all team members.
This style is often seen as more democratic and participative.
However, it can also be slow to make decisions.
If you use this style, try to set a timeframe for making decisions and stick to it, make sure that you are clear about what the decision needs to be made, and that you involve everyone in the discussion.
It can be difficult to get everyone to agree on a decision, and this style often requires more time for discussion and deliberation.
Be prepared to listen to different points of view and reach a compromise that everyone can agree on.
What this style says about you is that you are collaborative, fair-minded, inclusive, and willing to listen to others.
Laissez-Faire or Delegative Leadership Style
The Laissez-Faire or Delegative Leadership Style involves delegating authority to others and allowing them to make decisions.
This style can be effective when the team is skilled and experienced, and when there is little time for discussion or debate.
It can also lead to high levels of motivation as team members feel empowered to make decisions.
However, it can also be risky as it can lead to poor decision-making if the wrong people are given too much responsibility.
If you use this style, make sure that you delegate authority to the right people and give them clear guidelines on what they can and cannot do.
The Laissez-Faire Leadership style says that you trust your team and their abilities and that you are willing to give them the autonomy to make decisions.
Paternalistic Leadership Style
The Paternalistic Leadership Style is focused on taking care of employees and meeting their needs.
This style is often seen as nurturing and supportive.
However, it can also be viewed as being too controlling.
If you use this style, make sure that you give your team the freedom to make their own decisions.
Also, be careful not to micromanage your team and avoid second-guessing their decisions.
The Paternalistic Leadership Style says that you care about your employees and want to take care of them.
Improving Your Leadership Skills
If you want to improve your leadership skills, here are some tips:
- Start by learning about different leadership styles and figuring out which one is the best fit for you and your team right now – and when you may need to change leadership styles based on the situation.
- Make sure that you have a clear vision and goals for your team or organization.
- Create a culture of trust and respect within your team.
- Be willing to listen to others and consider their opinions.
- Encourage open communication within your team.
- Provide employees with the resources and support they need to succeed.
- Create a system for giving and receiving feedforward.
- Finally, keep learning and growing as a leader!
Which of these leadership styles do you think best describes the style you are employing right now? What’s your favorite leadership style? Let us know in the comments!
And if you’re looking for more tips on how to be a great leader, check out our 10-week online cohort-based workshop series called The Leadership Accelerator, designed specifically to upgrade your leadership skills to align with how employees and teams work most effectively today.