Leadership styles are understood to mean the particular style a leader takes in providing direction, implementing plans and motivating people. Throughout history, great leaders have emerged with particular leadership styles, which can be broadly grouped into different categories. These are useful to know - but ultimately, each individual business leader will need to develop his or her own leadership style in order to authentically lead individuals, teams or organizations.
Different leadership styles
Examples of different leadership styles include:
Authoritarian leadership: Authoritarian leadership styles allow a leader to impose expectations and define outcomes. A one-person show can turn out to be successful in situations when a leader is the most knowledgeable in the team. Although this is an efficient strategy in time-constrained periods, or when team members need clear guidelines, creativity will be sacrificed since input from the team is limited.
Participative leadership: Participative leadership styles are rooted in democratic theory. The essence is to involve team members in the decision making process. Team members thus feel included, engaged and motivated to contribute. The leader will normally have the last word in the decision-making processes. However, if there are disagreements within a group, it can be a time-consuming process to reach a consensus.
Delegative leadership: Also known as "laissez-faire leadership, delegative leadership styles focus on delegating initiative to team members. This can be a successful strategy if team members are competent, take responsibility and prefer engaging in individual work. However, disagreements among the members may split and divide a group - leading to poor motivation and low morale.
Transactional leadership: Transactional leadership styles use "transactions" between a leader and his or her followers - rewards, punishments and other exchanges - to get the job done. The leader sets clear goals, and team members know how they'll be rewarded for their compliance. This "give and take" leadership style is more concerned with following established routines and procedures in an efficient manner, than with making any transformational changes to an organization.
Transformational leadership: In transformational leadership styles, the leader inspires his or her followers with a vision and then encourages and empowers them to achieve it. The leader also serves as a role model for the vision.
Developing your own leadership style
While it is important to recognize and understand different leadership styles - including the situations in which they work best - you are unlikely to be a successful business leader simply by mimicking these. Leadership is not about providing a certain response in a certain situation - it's about using your natural leadership strengths in an authentic manner to inspire and motivate others.
Leadership training from a good business school can help you to understand and strengthen your own leadership style. Good leadership courses teach you the dynamics of human behavior, raise self-awareness, and provide the chance to practice leadership in different situations. Depending on the level, such courses can also include training on business and/or strategic leadership.
Leadership coaching is another way to identify your leadership strengths and weaknesses. Indeed, the best leadership courses include personal leadership coaching for even greater impact on developing authentic and effective leadership styles.