What kind of leader are you?

Whether you are leading a small group or a large organisation, the leadership style you implement can greatly impact the effectiveness of your efforts. Although there are several types of leadership, the most effective one depends on you and your team

CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Business News Daily

Although becoming an effective leader can take time and effort, it will be worth it to see your team succeed. Christie Lindor, solution principal at Slalom Consulting, described some common traits of an effective leader.

“Effective leaders demonstrate the political will to make tough decisions and are accountable enough to follow through on promises,” she told Business News Daily. “Transparent communication styles also make leaders effective.”

In addition to making tough decisions, and exhibiting clear communication, examine your leadership style and evaluate how it may be perceived by your subordinates. You may have to alternate leadership styles to accommodate your team’s changing needs.

The nine most common types of leadership

There are several different leadership styles that can be unique to each individual; however, experts agree that most leaders predominantly fit into at least one of these nine different leadership styles. When you analyse which leadership style you use most, Christie says, keep in mind that there are no right or wrong styles.

“It’s all about pairing leadership styles with the right organisational fit, market, timing or needs in a way that drives successful outcomes,” she said. 

Autocratic leadership

This is one of the strictest types. Autocratic leaders tend to have complete control over the decision-making process. This leadership style can be effective when decision-making is urgent, or workmanship is routine.

Bureaucratic leadership

Although not as strict as autocratic leaders, bureaucratic leaders also tend to strictly enforce regulations and status in the hierarchy. This leadership style can be effective in healthcare and safety environments.

Charismatic leadership

Charismatic leaders have an infectious presence that motivates their team to follow their lead. Their likability helps them and their teams achieve success in business. This leadership style can be effective in high-energy work environments that need a lot of positive morale.  

Democratic leadership

Unlike autocratic or bureaucratic leaders, a democratic leader often welcomes subordinate participation in decision-making. This leadership style is often admired, and can be effective in creative work environments that don’t require quick decisions.

Laissez-faire leadership

Laissez-faire leaders have a hands-off approach and let their employees assume responsibility in the decision-making process, although they must still set employee expectations and monitor performance. This leadership style can be effective when working with highly experienced and confident employees.

Servant leadership

Servant leaders share power and decision-making with their subordinates and often direct the organisation based on the interests of the team. This leadership style can be effective for humanitarian organisations, non-profits, and teams that need to create diversity, inclusion, and morale.

Situational leadership

Situational leaders can implement a range of leadership types – and modify their style based on the needs of their employees and the environment; because of its versatility, this type of leadership can be effective in most organisations.  

Transactional leadership

A transactional leader uses a reward/consequence system to motivate employees to achieve success and discourage them from failure. This leadership style can be effective for teams which are motivated by rewards.

Transformational leadership

Similar to charismatic leaders, transformational leaders use their inspiring energy and personality to create an infectious workplace. This type is often more effective than charismatic leadership, as it also motivates teams to build confidence and accountability. It can be effective in organisations that have intellectual team members who thrive in interactive environments.

Each style of leadership has its own advantages and disadvantages, although some styles are commonly seen as more desirable. For example, most small businesses can benefit from transformational, democratic or situational leadership.

“The leadership style I most admire are transformational, which is about articulating an inspiring vision and helping people reinvent themselves and their company, servant leadership, which is all about taking care of your clients, employees and the general community and situational leadership, which is all about creating an agile way of leading and thinking depending on the needs of the organisation or marketplace,” explains Christie.

Why it is important to understand your leadership style

According to Christie, self-awareness is the foundation of good leadership. When you understand what leadership style works best for you and your team, it’s much easier to be an effective leader.

“It’s important to know what type of leader you are (or are not) in order to operate effectively in an organisation,” she says. “Knowing your leadership style also helps you decide which organisations might be a better cultural fit.”

Norah Nicholls, principal at Deloitte Tax LLP, believes a good understanding of your leadership style can help you communicate with your team more effectively. “It’s important that you maintain transparency about what you’re focused on as a leader, and to create alignment around your vision and objectives,” she said. “It’s also important to create a culture where people understand the strengths that they collectively bring to the team.”

Norah says that effective leaders are able to set a vision, align people to that vision, and show them how they can achieve that vision together. However, you must play to the strengths of your leadership style in order to achieve this goal. “If you can better understand your leadership strengths, and harness them, you will continue to grow and succeed.”

Daily leadership behaviours that motivate employees

Regardless of your leadership style, there are leadership behaviours you can exhibit to inspire employee motivation and success; a prime example is to be a positive role model for your team. 

“Showing your people that you are constantly focusing on improving your own skill set – leadership, industry knowledge, technical skills – is critical to good leadership,” explains Norah. “Encourage them to explore new skills, and make sure they know you’re committed to their growth.”

When you set a good example for your employees, and show interest in their success, they are more likely to follow your lead and respect your authority. Christie points outthat you should also display daily acts of authenticity, compassion and inclusion to inspire your employees; you can build trust if you exhibit genuine actions and are willing to work alongside your team when necessary.

“Employees like to work for leaders they believe have their best interests at heart – leaders who will stand up and support them, particularly during challenging times,” Christie says. “Regardless of your leadership style, always remember to take care of your people, and they will, in turn, take care of you.”

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