Leadership defined in simple terms, means leading a group of people or an organization. The meaning of leadership has changed over the years with the progress in business models and greater focus on developing people. Leadership style is the way in which leaders provide instructions, implement plans and motivate people.
It is found in the implicit and explicit behaviors exhibited by the leader while performing their actions. As the array of leadership styles have expanded, it has become essential for leaders to be knowledgeable about all the styles and possibly even adapt to one of the styles that aligns with their job requirement and their personal preference. Even different scenarios in the same role may require the use of different leadership styles in order to ensure an effective outcome.
Leadership styles are widely varied and are influenced by the characteristics of the leader themselves if they have not experienced leadership training.
Here are a few of the distinguishing features of different styles of leadership
- Laissez-Fair leadership involves the leader following a hands-off approach where high autonomy is given to the team they manage. This may lead intrinsically motivated employees to thrive but also poses a threat of low motivation and productivity.
- Autocratic leadership involves the leader making all the decision without input from the team. This style when followed in times of crisis is very effective but if followed as the norm, leads to employees feeling demotivated.
- Democratic leadership has a leader that involves the entire team in appropriate decision-making processes and makes the final decision. This promotes creativity, innovation and calculated risk-taking.
- Strategic leadership involves the leader influencing their team to make decisions that benefit the team and organizational goals. Strategic leaders often develop other strategic leaders, and this is greatly beneficial to the progress of an organization.
- Transactional leadership involves leaders basing their style on the reward-punishment model. The member of the team or organization that perform well will be rewarded in kind and those that under-perform will be punished. This approach may motivate good performers but further demotivate the below average performers, lead them to stress and burnout rather than providing feedback and plans to perform better.
- Transformational leadership involves the leader having a strong vision and influencing the team to make the vision their own and be successful. This type of leader is empathetic, self-aware, authentic, strategic and humble. It increases the motivation levels in the team and contributes to maintaining the mental wellbeing of the individuals within the team.
- Charismatic leadership involves the leader that has a universally likeable personality, who is motivating, energizing and inspiring. This style enables the team to have high team morale and be successful in the projects they undertake. Charismatic leaders need empathy to be the foundation else they may come across as superficially charismatic and lose trust.
The leadership styles discussed above are all ones that have been derived from existent styles. Each individual may have a default style but by learning the other styles they can evolve into practicing the style that they idealize or even borrow characteristics from other styles to expand their array of competencies to use at appropriate scenarios, which improves their performance and impact at the workplace.