If you observe many successful leaders, you will discover that they all use different approaches or styles of leadership. There is no one single best form of leadership that is used by all successful leaders. Of course, they will have some overlapping or similar traits, but in general their approaches or styles are bound to be different.
Today, we will discuss six of the well-known different types of leadership. These styles were formulated as a result of research done by Hay/McBer Consulting firm. In the research, they surveyed nearly four thousand executives from around the world.
Knowing the six leadership styles is good because you can then be aware that you can change your leadership style depending on the situation you are in. Some instances will require certain leadership styles while other situations will require different styles. Everyone has his or her preferred style that they use more comfortably or most often. A good leader has the flexibility to adapt the other leadership styles depending on the situation. If you are rigid, keeping to one or only your preferred leadership style, you are unlikely to succeed as a leader.
Let us now discuss the six leadership styles, starting from the most forceful style and ending with the softest form of leadership.
Commanding style: This is a leadership style where the leader simply issues directives and expects the followers to comply without questioning and without their inputs. It is like the leader is saying: “Follow me because I say so.” This leadership style is needed in a situation of urgency or in crisis. The bad side of it is that followers feel like they are workers without a say.
Pacesetting style: Sometimes, you can lead by building challenging and exciting goals for your people. This is the leadership style known as Pacesetting. You can use this style when your team is already highly motivated and competent. You lead as if you are telling your team “Follow me, do as I do.” The main disadvantage of this leadership style is that it lacks empathy and emotional connection with your followers.
Visionary style: There are some situations when you need to mobilise your people towards a desired vision or direction. This is a situation where you need to use the visionary leadership style. It is like you are saying: “Follow me because I see the future.” The challenge with this style is that followers do not easily understand how they get to your desired vision.
Affiliative style: When the team you are leading is going through some conflict, or stressful moments or other team challenges, you need a different leadership style. You need the Affiliative Leadership Style. You need to now focus more on the emotional needs of the team rather than work actions. It is like you are telling the team: “Follow me because we are in this together. We win together or we fail and lose together.”
Coaching style: There are times when you will need to lead by building the skills of your team leveraging their strengths while closing their weaknesses and linking their delivery with the overarching goals. Team gets inspired that whatever they are doing, is not just helping you but also helping them grow professionally. It is like you are saying: “Try doing it this way.” The disadvantage of this method is that followers might feel that you are micromanaging them.
Democratic style: In some situations, you need to lead by listening to everyone, the good and the bad things while on-boarding everyone and getting the buy-in from all participants and team members. This leadership style requires a lot of patience and time. It is like you keep saying: “What do you think?”
Good leaders are those that are flexible and keep changing the style of leadership depending on the situation. Bad leaders use the same style all the time. Great leaders are dynamic. They read the terrain and deploy the best leadership style for the moment. Become a great leader too. Master the six leadership styles and know when to use which. This way, you will rise and shine!