Whether you're moving into a leadership position, or you've managed a team or two in your time, there's no one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to leading others. What works for some might not be the right approach for you. But leadership is an ever-changing art form, and there are numerous styles for you to choose and develop on the way to team success.
To help you decide on the best option for you, your team and your organisational goals, we'll see how effective the most established leadership styles are by taking a closer look at their pros and cons below.
Why are leadership styles important?
Leadership styles are a valued part of managing a team. Every style has the potential to significantly affect the way your direct reports approach their work – for better or worse. The right leadership style can boost productivity and timeliness and goes a long way towards promoting healthy company culture.
And remember, you can adapt to certain leadership styles when the moment calls for it. While certain leaders opt for a singular style and apply it to all situations, others might prefer to tailor their leadership approach depending on the situation they or the company find themselves in.
Different types of leadership style
Also known as participative leadership, democratic leadership allows team members to pitch in when making decisions. Although the leader makes the final call, each team member provides their input and has equal say on a project's direction.
This approach gives employees a degree of authority, mirroring how decisions can be made in company board meetings – making it an incredibly effective leadership style.
The pros of democratic leadership:
The cons of democratic leadership:
Defined by a "my way or the highway" mentality, autocratic leaders make decisions without taking or asking for input from their team. As well as a lack of consideration for others' insights, they expect their decisions to be followed and adhered to by the letter.
An example of an autocratic leadership decision would be when a manager changes the hours of work for multiple employees, without consulting them first.
The pros of autocratic leadership:
The cons of autocratic leadership
The very definition of hands-off, laissez-faire leaders give others the freedom to make decisions, practically giving all authority to their employees. Generally seen in creative settings such as ad agencies and start-ups, laissez-faire leaders aren't especially concerned with things like work hours or deadlines. Instead, they put their trust in their employees, while tending to the company’s other needs.
The pros of laissez-faire leadership
The cons of laissez-faire leadership
Think of the transformational leader as a visionary, always aiming to improve on the status quo by inspiring and motivating their team. That might mean shortening deadlines and giving individuals more challenging goals as the company grows. For transformational leaders, pushing others outside of their comfort zone is part and parcel of their style.
The pros of transformational leadership
The cons of transformational leadership
A commonly used leadership style, transactional leaders reward employees for their efforts. That means bonuses and promotions are used as motivators, often with a standardised incentive plan to go along with your job duties. However, although rewards may sound like the best way to encourage a team, the approach is not without its shortcomings.
The pros of transactional leadership
The cons of transformational leadership
Focused on bringing out the best in their team, the coaching leader identifies and nurtures the individual strengths of each member. It's similar to democratic leadership, but it emphasises the growth and success of individual employees instead.
As a result, this leader may create a team where each employee has a specific skill or expertise in something different, building a highly skilled, multi-faceted squad of workers who are well-versed in communicating with each other.
The pros of coach-style leadership
The cons of coach-style leadership
Driven by hierarchy and order, the bureaucratic leader does things by the book. Commonly found in larger or more traditional companies, bureaucratic leaders might take on others' insights, but their tendency towards strict regulations and company policy generally means they'll stick with what's worked before instead.
The pros of bureaucratic leadership
The cons of bureaucratic leadership
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