Employee Engagement

8 Common leadership styles, which one are you?

leadership styles

Leadership styles are such a funny thing. Just think of your favourite fictional bosses. Michael Scott from the Dunder-Mifflin Scranton branch, Ron Swanson from the Parks & Recreation department of Pawnee, Liz Lemon from 30 Rock, and Minerva McGonagall from Hogwarts all get things done in their own way.  One creates huge amounts of awkwardness that somehow bind his team together in mutual cringe, while the others wield full-on disassociation, flabbergasted exasperation and a fir-and-dragon-heartstring wand respectively. 

Back in real life, however, we non-fictional folk have to be a bit more circumspect in the way we approach the huge responsibility of leading our teams to operational success. This is why we’re going to take a look at the leadership styles that promote innovation and growth. 

Keen to know what kind of leader you are before we carry on? Here is a pretty nifty quiz you can try. Just be aware that since you are a complex, multifaceted human; shaped by countless, ongoing experiences just like everyone else on this planet, you are likely to straddle two or more leadership styles. 

Right, here we go - Let’s take a look at some of the most common leadership styles and their definitions. Then we’ll zone in on the 5 leadership styles that are known to promote innovation and growth. 


8 Common leadership styles:


1. Autocratic leadership

Autocratic leaders approach their work with a 'my way or the highway' attitude and mostly make decisions without seeking input from those on the lower rungs of the corporate ladder. They tend to get things done quickly and keep their teams highly motivated, but it's not always a positive experience and can result in a loss of employee engagement. 


2. Bureaucratic leadership

Bureaucratic leaders are sticklers for procedure. They're all about the KPIs and like to tick a set of predetermined boxes as they go. This provides their teams with loads of stability since they know exactly what to expect, but it can also dampen creativity in the workplace since change is normally met with resistance. 


3. Charismatic leadership

Charismatic leaders are the lions on the plains of the workplace. They have huge personalities that draw people in and inspire loyalty at the drop of a hat. Their most effective tools are their ability to communicate and persuade with ease. This lays the groundwork for teams that are aligned toward a common cause. They can, however, become so focussed on a certain outcome that they neglect to tend to other issues that arise in the meantime. 

Read more here 👉 10 Ways great leaders empower employees and boost productivity


4. Transactional leadership

A transactional leader leads with a stick and a carrot. They give instructions and will then reward or penalise in response to each employee's performance. Employees under a transactional leader normally know exactly what is required of them because all expectations are clearly mapped out from the start, but they can also become disengaged due to the rigidity of their environment. 


5. Democratic leadership

A democratic leader (also known as a participative leader) uses input from their teams to inform their decisions. Although they are technically higher up on the food chain, they always seek out discussion and encourage contributions from the whole team. These leaders like to get their hands dirty and be in the thick of things with their troops. This leadership style can stall projects sometimes as everyone battles to reach consensus, but it is wonderful at stimulating creativity and innovation. 


6. Transformational leadership

A transformational leader is always looking for the next big thing. They inspire their teams to grow, develop and innovate. This could be seen as disruptive in working environments in which tried-and-tested processes are in place and constant tweaking could upset the apple cart, but in general, these leaders’ ability to allow autonomy, vastly improves employee experience, ultimately resulting in excellent business outcomes. 


7. Servant leadership

Servant leadership refers to a philosophy that states that leaders should serve in order to be effective. It differs from most traditional leadership models by shifting the focus from the success of the company or organisation to the needs of the employees. Although these leaders have to work hard to ensure that they are not taken advantage of, they are known to build high levels of trust with their employees and boost morale from within to create a positive company culture. 


8. Laissez-faire leadership

Sounds fancy, right? Actually, the term ‘laissez-faire’ means ‘leave it be’ in French. As such, a laissez-faire leader is someone who is the antithesis of a micromanager. They build teams of competent individuals and then trust them to do what they do best without looking over their shoulders. They focus on their own projects and make themselves available for guidance when necessary. This type of leadership style provides plenty of room for creativity and innovation, but could sometimes cause a lag in productivity if employees feel unsure of what is expected of them. 

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