Understanding leadership styles and how they work for you

April 23rd 2023 | Posted by Dave

Effective leadership is essential to the growth and success of any business.

Top leaders know how to elicit the best performance levels from an organisation’s workforce.

These optimal performance levels are essential to a business maximising its potential and profits.

Leadership styles are an integral feature of excellence in leadership. Understanding what these styles are, and how they can be used, provides an insight into why they are so vital.

What are leadership styles and why do they matter?

The term leadership styles refers to the approach leaders take to motivating, directing, and influencing those around them. The style each leader adopts influences everything they do from interacting with stakeholders to implementing strategies and plans.

Several studies have been conducted to establish which styles are most effective in accomplishing goals. These studies indicate that top leaders employ a combination of styles depending on the needs of the business and the requirements of a particular situation.

Leadership styles are also influenced by a leader’s personality, emotional intelligence, background, and way of thinking. The most effective leaders understand the various leadership styles, what their natural style is, and how they can adapt accordingly.

What are the most common leadership styles?

Taking a closer look at leadership styles shows how they provide value for business leaders. The most common leadership styles are as follows:

  • Democratic leadership involves decision making based on input from team members and is collaborative and consultative. This leadership style is usually regarded as the most effective overall.
  • Autocratic leadership is the opposite of a democratic approach and involves a leader holding all the authority and responsibility in an organisation. This style is often regarded as demotivating to employees and can lead to high turnover rates, but it can work well on specific occasions when quick and decisive action is required.
  • Laissez-Faire leadership is a hands-off style that involves a leader providing tools and information required to carry out tasks before taking a step back. This style of leadership can be motivating and empowering to employees, but top leaders realise this style must be kept in check to prevent chaos from ensuing.
  • Transformational leadership involves transforming an organisation by inspiring team members. Leaders who employ this style expect the best from their teams and push them to achieve. These leaders are associated with organisations that embrace change to promote growth.
  • Transactional leadership is usually a short-term approach that involves employees agreeing to follow the leader and reach targets as agreed. This style often involves the use of bonuses and incentives.
  • Bureaucratic leadership involves playing by the rules and operating a business entirely according to processes and regulations with no room for flexibility. This type of leadership normally exists in traditional organisations that have been in operation for many years. The danger of this type of leadership is that there is often no room for innovation that could take the business forward.

Each leader has a style, or combination of styles, which comes naturally to them. The most successful professionals also know how to adopt styles to suit the type of organisation, the work involved, the skills of individuals within the organisation, and the task at hand.

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