Most of us have our favourite leaders, either direct managers or more famous people, who we admire and look up to. As is wont to happen, we instinctively pick up traits (hopefully, all positive) from each of the leaders that we come across, and that often defines what kind of managers we become.
If you thought that most leaders get lumped under two categories – good or bad, with an average thrown in – you’ll be surprised to know that you are mistaken.
Yes, leaders can be good or bad, and mediocre, but the type of leadership they display is often determined by the role they have to play, the people that they lead and the demands of the situation. Yes, leadership styles often change and the same person may be found donning more than one type of leadership hat.
The list is quite exhaustive, so let’s plunge into it right away, shall we?
#1 Democratic Leadership
Here the leader actively involves subordinates in the decision making process. Of course, the final responsibility lies with the leader, but there is greater delegation of authority and autonomy. The most interesting aspect of such a leadership style is that communication flows both ways. This is the ideal form of leadership and it is identified as fair, creative, courageous, intelligent, competent, and honest.
The only flipside to this type of leadership is that its processes are slower and it might not be the most effective in organisations where quick decisions are needed.
#2 Transformational Leadership
As the title suggests, this leadership style entails bringing about change – be it in the organization, teams, individuals, and in oneself as well. A transformational leader looks for ways to motivate others to exceed their expectations and their abilities too. They set more challenging goals and often even obtain greater performance by creating an environment that is intellectually stimulating. Since transformational leaders empower their followers, this type of leadership sees deep commitment and more satisfied employees.
#3 Transactional Leadership
In this form of leadership, roles and expectations are clearly defined. The leader outlines a process in which followers get immediate, tangible rewards for implementing the leader’s instructions. This type of leadership might sound rather rudimentary, or transactional, and in a manner of speaking it does have a clear chain of command. However, in any form of leadership it is important to state expectations clearly, give directions, share feedback and allocate rewards.
While many believe this to be an effective method to achieve targets and complete short-term goals, it often doesn’t allow employees to reach their full creative potential.
#4 Team Leadership
This leadership requires presenting a powerful image of the team’s future, what it will achieve and what it stands for. The idea is to inspire and impart a strong sense of purpose. Team leadership means working with the hearts and the minds of the team members. This is a slightly risky leadership and it may not always succeed as it mainly depends upon how effective the top leadership is.
#5 Coaching Leadership
Coaching leadership requires teaching and guiding followers. This type of leadership is useful in settings where there is a need for quick results or to see an improvement in performance. In this leadership style, followers are guided on improving their skills. Coaching leadership motivates its followers; it inspires and encourages them. To perform effectively, a coaching leadership requires continuous monitoring of group dynamics, offering process recommendations and bringing timely interventions to keep the group on track.
#6 Strategic Leadership Style
This style of leadership needs the input of a leader who is the head of the organization but isn’t limited to the top of the organization alone. It caters to a much larger audience, across all levels, who are aiming to create a high performance team or organization. The role of a strategic leader is to close the gap between new possibilities and practicality by coming up with a new set of ideas and habits. If the organisation is to see a change, it requires strategic thinking through effective leadership.
#7 Laissez-faire Leadership
Here departments and employees are given the authority to work as they wish to, with minimal or zero interference. This leads to reduced accountability and has been shown to be the least satisfying and least effective management style of all.
#8 Cross-Cultural Leadership
This leadership is mostly found in organisations where the business works in a global market and has various cultures within its society. Such organisations are often international ones who require leaders with the skills to tweak their leadership approach to suit different cultures.
These are the many ways that an individual can lead an organization or a group of people. Not all the styles are perfect for all the situations mentioned. It is up to you, eventually, to see which one fits your personality, your organisation and mainly the situation that requires you to take up the leadership mantle in the first place.
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