Simplifying the Styles of Leadership

Becky Leighton

Posted: February 17, 2020

Table of Contents

“To be a great leader, one must …”

How you finish this sentence could uncover a great deal about your leadership style. 

Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal or any goal.

Vince Lombardi

The meaning of leadership is evolving rapidly. A leader is no longer regarded as an omnipotent individual who tells others what to do. He/she is someone who is able to guide members in a team in the right direction – from within rather than above.

In order to be better leaders tomorrow, we have to know where we stand today. To help you understand the effect each type of leader has on an organisation, here are the most well-known types of leadership styles at play today…

Laissez-Faire Leadership

Running contrary to the autocratic leadership style, this type of leader concentrates for the most part on appointing numerous tasks to team members and offering very little supervision. Since a laissez-faire leader doesn’t invest much energy into overseeing employees, he or she will often have more time to commit to other projects. 

Managers may embrace this leadership style when all team members are exceptionally experienced, well prepared and require little supervision. It can cause a plunge in productivity if employees are confused about their leader’s expectations, or if their fellow team members need consistent motivation and boundaries to work well.

Autocratic Leadership

Also referred to as the authoritative style of leadership, this sees leaders being focused entirely on proficiency and results. 

This leadership style can be helpful in organisations with strict rules, or compliance-heavy industries. It can also be valuable when used with employees who need a lot of supervision, for example, those with little to no experience. 

Democratic Leadership

The participative leadership style depends on common regard, requiring a coordinated effort among leaders and the individuals they manage. It’s valid for all organisations, from private enterprises and government offices to educational institutions and NGOs.

Transactional Leadership

A transactional leader is somebody who is laser-centred on performance, like a pacesetter. Under this leadership style, the manager creates predetermined incentives — usually by way of a money-related prize for progress, and disciplinary action for disappointment. Transactional leaders are also centred around mentorship, guidance and preparing to accomplish objectives and enjoy rewards.

Transformational Leadership

The transformational leadership style is similar to the mentoring model in that it centres around clear communication, goal setting and employee motivation. Rather than putting most of the energy into every employee’s individual goals, the transformational leader is driven by a commitment to organisational targets. 

Since these kinds of leaders invest quite a bit of their energy in the bigger picture, this style of leading is best for teams that can deal with many delegated tasks without frequent supervision.

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