“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them,” famously said William Shakespeare. For those who are in leadership positions, or heading there, here’s some help identifying where you fit into one of six different leadership styles.
Despite many leaders naturally inclining toward one predominant leadership style, it is not uncommon to switch between a few depending on the situation. There is not one wrong leadership method, and each style here has its strengths and weaknesses - by understanding these, it can be more effective when choosing which to follow in certain environments or situations.
"Leadership isn’t a position — it’s a skill and a tool you can continually cultivate and use to create lasting change and provide certainty to others in times of uncertainty. Leadership is not something you’re born with or without – it’s a creative muscle you can strengthen and develop over time. And it’s founded on the idea of influence." - Tony Robbins
Democratic Leadership Style
This type of leader places value on diverse skills and the knowledge of the group in question, asking “what do you think?”, to utilise the collective wisdom of the team. This collaborative method allows for effective long-term planning. This leadership style, however, can be time-consuming and may not be the best approach to emergencies. Think many politicians including Hillary Rodham Clinton: collaborating with the thoughts of other party members and their constituents to march forward in the direction deemed right by the majority group.
Visionary Leadership Style
Innovative, passionate and open-minded, a visionary leader is a big picture thinker, often seeing future potential and inspiring forward momentum. Good at visualising new ideas and aspirations, visionary leaders rely on abstract thinking, though are often not overly bothered about the minute details, enlisting the help of others to plan how to achieve their goals. Think Steve Jobs: innovation and big ideas were the groundwork for his success.
Affiliative Leadership Style
Affiliative leaders focus on building or rebuilding trust, and creating emotional bonds with team members. They help to harmonise a team and improve methods of communication, promoting a sense of belonging to every individual of a group while increasing loyalty. People pleasers, affiliative methods of leadership can sometimes overlook poor performances or issues to retain group or individual moral.
Women are often found to be appointed to failing companies in a state of crisis or high risk - coined the glass cliff phenomenon. Some researchers, including Bruckmüller & Branscombe (2010) and Sczesny, Bosak, Neff and Schyns (2004), posed that women entering a crisis-deemed company possess advanced interpersonal skills suited to this environment.
Pacesetting Leadership Style
Pacesetters lead by example. Their high standards, work ethic and skill set are what they use to guide their team into following in their footsteps. It is often seen in military leaders. This leadership style works great for self-motivated individuals who actively push for personal development, but may not work so well on those who need more guidance. This may be because Pacesetters often assume their team know what to do to a high standard, as they would. Think Julius Caesar, who famously never asked his soldiers to do something that he wouldn’t do himself.
Coaching Leadership Style
This leadership style involves plenty of face time with the team, creating deep connections with individuals to get a thorough understanding of their values and aspirations, strengths and weaknesses. Best at directing and guiding others to their hopes and dreams through a “try this” attitude, coaching leaders highly value encouragement and open communication to achieve a positive environment. This is an effective way of leadership, though their team may sometimes mistake this enthusiastic and connective approach as micromanaging.
It’s often hard to find clear-cut examples of coaching leaders, though it has been said that women’s natural inclination to be more compassionate and considerate often leads them to motivate their team through the coaching or transformational style. Of course, this doesn’t mean that women dominate this style entirely, or don’t inhabit other leadership styles!
Commanding Leadership Style
A commanding leadership style comes with an authoritarian, traditional attitude of “I am boss and you must do what I say”. Naturally confident, commanders take charge, give direction and expect others to comply without question. This leadership method is great in times of crisis or in emergencies when quick decisions are crucial. Though often highly respected, commanding leaders may run the risk of undercutting moral, leaving the team with little say or influence. Think Winston Churchill, whose commanding speeches alone often inspired people to action.
Which leadership style do you follow?
Which leadership style do you naturally veer toward? Mixing a few leadership methods can bring you success, as can steering from one style to another based on each style’s strengths and weaknesses in a given scenario.