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The top 5 types of leadership style in management: which works the most effectively for you

Published: Friday 28th August 2020

Leadership skills are traits found to some degree in every person. When it comes to being a great leader, there are set characteristics that make the markings of an efficient and effective leader that get things done. How we react and approach a goal when we are put in charge of a mission defines our inherent leadership style.

A woman boss showing addressing her subordinate in a conference, showing a perfect leadership style

There are well over 10 leadership styles and hybrids of these leadership skills. Today we are going to discuss the 5 most commonly observed leadership styles in an organizational setting.

1. Autocratic Leadership:

Autocratic leadership is also known as a dictatorial leadership style. The boss exercises total authority and control over the operations of a company or team, where the members and employees do not have any flexibility of opinion. They are expected to do as directed while being ruled with an iron fist. The benefit of this leadership style is that the employees are free of any decision making related confusion. It saves time taken to execute orders while the roles are predefined for every person involved. This leaves no space for deviation or errors in the original plan as every team member knows exactly what needs to be done. The drawbacks include lack of motivation in employees and losing out on more efficient ways to execute a plan by using the ideas of team members.  

2. Laissez-Faire Leadership:

The laissez-faire leadership is the exact opposite of the autocratic style. Here, the leader is simply a position occupied prima-facie by a person who creates an environment of equality among all team members. There is no clear leader since everyone is given equal decision-making powers. This means that at every step of process, every member’s input carries equal weight and will be considered during strategizing. This is an effective style only for organizations, task-forces and teams that involves members who all are highly skilled with equal expertise in their niche. The benefit of this leadership style is getting the best output out of every team member to get stellar results. However, if the team members are not skilled, this could lead to confusion, conflicting opinions, lack of clarity in direction and stagnancy.  

3. Democratic Leadership:

Democratic leadership is a style that takes the middle road between the autocratic and Laissez Faire leadership styles. As extremities can do more harm than good if not approached correctly, moderation gives the best possible results. In this style of leadership, the boss has the ultimate say, but every team member gets an equal opportunity to present their ideas and opinions. This gives a feeling of importance among members where their opinion feels valued, validated and seen. Teamwork is encouraged and everyone works collectively towards a common goal. The drawbacks of this style are time-consuming decision making and the possibility of poor judgement on the part of inexperienced members in the majority.  

4. Transactional Leadership:

A transactional leader focuses on bringing more structure to a working environment. With such order implemented, self-motivated employees are expected to give their best to every task. There are defined rewards and reprimands for successes and failures. The benefits of transactional leadership are clear short and long-term goals, streamlined operations, higher efficiency and clear consequences of actions. The drawbacks range between employees feeling stifled, high performance pressure, and lack of flexibility.

5. Transformational Leadership:

Perhaps this is one of the most efficient and balanced styles of all. A transformational leader is charismatic and a visionary who chooses to inspire the team while encouraging them to take charge of their duties and work to the best of their capacity. This leadership technique creates a positive work environment where the employees feel driven and confident in their abilities rather than feeling suffocated. The drawback of this style includes turning members into a cult where everyone vies for the leader’s approval rather than performing well at their job.

As seen above, each of the leadership skills have their merits and drawbacks. Which one defines your leadership style best?

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