In the workplace, multiple styles of leadership are used as a way to boost productivity and motivate others. Accordingly, the best leaders avoid taking a one-dimensional approach, and instead they pay close attention to context in order to identify which leadership styles match the needs of each situation.
Some develop certain leadership styles naturally and with relative ease, and these generally become a calling card, the style for which a leader is known. One individual might not think twice about making a unilateral decision, while another might instinctively turn outward for input on the same issue. Apart from these intuitive responses, other approaches often require leaders to exert greater effort, such as if the two individuals in this hypothetical situation each tried to acquire the skillset of the other.
Developing multiple leadership styles and, crucially, knowing when to apply them creates a distinct kind of versatility that marks a strong leader. Consider the following 12 types of leadership styles and the scenarios in which they most effectively operate.
Personality drives this leadership style, which works well to influence and persuade others to action. Charismatic leaders help others to feel more passionate about their work, which can quickly boost team morale. One drawback to this style is that it may create too much dependency on the leader.
Situational leaders adapt to new situations by maximizing resources and building on the strengths of each individual on the team. This leadership style calls for a balance of direction and support. When used well, it can lead to positive changes in an organization. Situational leadership also requires that one maintain a relatively predictable pattern of behavior so as not to confuse others by moving too quickly from one strategy to another.
In the transactional style, leaders set up a system of rewards and punishment based on performance. Regular reviews then take place to determine if an employee or team member needs further training or if a bonus is in order. Transactional leadership operates on a fixed chain of command, and it can work well as a motivational tool in some settings.
Transformational leaders guide groups through organizational growth. They recognize how change impacts people and help their staff make the necessary transformations. In this style, leaders focus on encouraging and strengthening others to reach new levels of productivity.
The quiet leader
Quiet leaders succeed by setting an example for others to follow. They rarely give directions or commands, but when they do, they only ask people to perform tasks they would complete themselves. Instead of making speeches, they get their work done and strive to inspire others in the process.
The servant leader
Leaders who gain their position by election will benefit the most from taking a servant approach. This approach involves putting the needs of others first, supplying the necessary resources for people to succeed, and passing along the credit. Servant leaders often appear on “best places to work” lists.
The innovative leader has a firm grasp on all things operational in a group or business, including what works and what needs help. In this comprehensive perspective, she or he introduces new ideas and creates an atmosphere in which “followers” can do the same. Innovative leadership increases risk taking, but it also elevates respect for ideas.
Command and control
Commanders and controllers look to the rules to aid in their leadership. They set and follow the rules to ensure safety, compliance, and productivity. While leaders who stick to the rules provide stability in urgent situations, they can also foster an environment that feels limited or restrictive.
The laissez-faire approach lives up to its name. Leaders who employ this style maintain an awareness of day-to-day activities while keeping their distance. They place a lot of trust in others and rely on the competence of their team. This model, which is sometimes referred to as participative leadership, works best with seasoned and experienced employees.
Pacesetting leaders set the pace for the group by establishing and maintaining high performance standards. Motivation needs to be in place already for this style to work because it is based almost purely on action. However, the pacesetting style does not often work as a model in the long term, as people have a tendency to burn out.
Affiliative leaders are similar to servant leaders in that they place people first. They make every effort to connect employees and team members in a way that helps them to feel like they belong to something important. During stressful times in a workplace, strongly formed affiliations can facilitate teamwork.
Leaders who take a coaching approach encourage group members to try new things and grow in the process. Coaching functions as an investment in what people will be able to do in the future with the experience they gain. If a staff is willing to change, this model can yield impressive results.