Even if you consider yourself a team player, it is still possible for you to take on a leadership role for one reason or another. You might need to take the helm of a project as an expert in that field or take charge of an initiative as a concerned member of society. At some point in your personal and professional life, you’ll have to step up and lead. Perhaps you already know what your leadership style is, but some situations may require a different approach than the one you’re familiar with. What kind of leader do you have to be and how do you become that leader?
Knowing different leadership styles matter because adapting your leadership style to suit the circumstances can help you influence people. In turn, this will make it easier for you to guide your team in the right direction. >Leadership coaching and ample self-reflection can help you see what kind of leader will best suit different situations. If you’re still exploring your capabilities as a leader, it pays to get to know the options that are available to you. Here are some of the most common leadership styles and how they are meant to be used:
Some teams tend to work well with a more directive leader, especially when most people in the group still lack experience. A transactional leader gives out instructions and follows through with a reward or penalty based on how the team executed the directions provided to them. By doing so, you establish how you expect your subordinates to act and do their work. Transactional leadership is helpful with new teams because tasks and expectations are laid down early on. A different leadership style can then be employed once the team members are used to providing what is expected of them.
Do you like to begin with the end in mind and slowly model everyone’s tasks and behaviours to meet that goal? If so, then you are a transformational leader. You have high expectations of your team members, but you offer guidance and support to help them achieve these objectives as well. As a leader, you want everyone to focus on the bigger picture instead of spending too much time on short-term goals. You are as much of a motivator as you are a willing helper. Use this leadership style if you have already proven yourself to be a capable leader and have the trust of your team.
While this term is commonly used in faith-centric leadership forums, there’s no need for you to be heavily religious to be known as a servant-leader. You simply need to be a person for others by uplifting your team members and helping them improve. Take your time to build a trusting relationship between everyone first. Ask your team members what you can do to help them and prioritise their needs above your own as well, especially if you’re dealing with a hard challenge. Use this leadership style with care, as you can quickly become burnt out and ineffective if you assume this role for extended periods.
Also called democratic leadership, this is a style that is not just restricted for people in government. Being a participative leader simply means that you are generally fair and open-minded. You require and value input from your team on different issues, and you make decisions based on what the majority of people agree on. Participative leaders work well in teams where everyone is already an expert in their respective fields. Rather than simply expecting team members to perform, a democratic leader involves everyone in the decision-making process and leverages the group’s collective expertise.
When people feel empowered and heard, they become more invested and committed to their collective cause. This is why a participative leadership style can help motivate a team of experienced professionals to speak their minds, work together, and build on their strengths.
This type of leadership is the complete opposite of participative leadership. You have absolute power as a leader to make decisions without consulting others, and you just have to communicate your decisions and instructions with your team. Autocratic leaders need not be harsh, but they have to be insistent on how they want things to be done during high-pressure situations. Autocratic leadership tends to work best during challenging situations that require immediate action. You cannot afford to have any delays or errors during a crucial time, so it’s best to approach the situation with firmness.
Being an autocratic leader is ideal if you want your people to take their work seriously, especially if they are generally too lenient. In such a situation, this leadership style can save time and ensure that your top issue is being prioritised by everyone in the team.
This is a leadership style that is often adopted by leaders who were taught to stick to the rules early on and try to follow the example set by their predecessors. Bureaucratic leadership is a good option if the methods handed down to you remain effective and if you seek to continue whatever progress has been made by the ones who came before you. As the idiom goes, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Bureaucratic leaders listen to others’ advice and go by the book. Employ this method if you are still getting used to being in a leadership role and are still in the process of getting to know your team.
Also known as laissez-faire leadership, this style works best in groups that have already worked together for a long time and have a strong foundation of trust. If you are already close with your team and know that everyone does their part and stays on top of things, there really is no need for you to be too involved. You can initiate things and end them, but you know that your teammates are capable of getting the work done without your interference. Use this style of leadership if you are working with a group of experienced, competent, and creative people that you deeply trust.
You are eloquent and have a talent for persuasion, and you use these to your advantage if you are this type of leader. A charismatic leader does not need to be harsh or bossy to coerce their team members to perform certain tasks. Instead, they rely on constant communication and inspiration to motivate everyone in the group to work towards a common goal. Use this style of leadership if your team has a short-term goal that urgently needs to be accomplished, as it keeps everyone on their toes and focused on achieving that goal. A charismatic leadership style is not as effective when the team has to deal with long-term objectives that have different components.
The beauty of leadership is that it is not set in stone. You are always free to use different leadership styles in different scenarios when working with your team. This situational style of leadership is by far the most effective way to make the most of any situation and achieve your goals.
Are you still figuring out what your leadership style is or how to use it? Get in touch with Justine Maree Cox.