Alexander the Great once famously said that he did not fear an army of lions led by a sheep, but rather he feared an army of sheep led by a lion. He was, of course, talking about the importance of strong leadership and how putting one competent person in charge can completely turn the outlook of one organization around.
But, leadership is a very loose term, and different aspects of the business world may require you to drastically adapt the way you are running your team. So, let us take a look at some of the most common styles of leadership and see what situations warrant those specific approaches.
For quite some time, when people talked about ‘strong leadership’ this was the approach they were talking about. An autocrat is a man who demands absolute obedience and sees results as something to be expected not encouraged. Of course, we now consider such behavior mostly undesirable not to a small extent due to the fact that it practically destroys engagement and employee satisfaction. But, some crises will require that the leader take firm reign, make quick decisions without group input, and effectively delegate tasks. As long as used in short bursts, this approach may even be a welcome change of pace.
A democratic leader is, for all intents and purposes, the polar opposite of the autocrat we have described above. So, the practices and outcomes of this management approach are the opposite as well. A democratic manager will require a high level of employee input, look for different perspectives on the problem, and give subordinates a much stronger sense of ownership over the process. On the one hand, this practice can do wonders for employee engagement and creating empowered labor. On the other, not all employees are capable of this level of participation and even the basic tasks tend to be time-consuming.
The greatest leaders are the ones who are able to effectively communicate their vision and make a platform for others to participate in the highest capacity. Speaking in organizational terms, visionary leaders do an excellent job in setting strong organizational bonds and building driven and motivated teams which makes them invaluable for startups and companies expecting growth. This is also one of the most demanding profiles so enrolling in some of the business management short courses is highly recommended. Also, always focusing on ‘the bigger picture’ can affect the ability to keep track of smaller details.
Just like a democratic leader is the polar opposite of an autocrat, a coach style leader is somewhat of an opposite of a visionary. Inspiring visionary leaders focus on building an organization as a whole. Coaches are building up the employees on a more personal level – they help subordinates to achieve their potential before they can use that potential as a part of a team. This is one of the most time-consuming leadership styles and it is possible only in environments that are not burdened with pressing time-sensitive deadlines. The main benefit comes in the form of high retention and a truly effective workforce.
Transactional leaders believe that the efficient system keeps itself in check more so than any conscious effort on behalf of the manager. They will give employees a clear set of objectives they need to go through, they will give them all the tools down to simple letter templates, they will outline the required processes, and, finally, they will offer some tangible reward at the end of the challenge. This system is very clear, and deliberate, and makes wonders in terms of operational efficiency and creating functional, repeatable workflows. But, the employees tend to suffer due to a lack of emotional attachment and creative thinking.
The main difference between a democratic and permissive leader is that the latter profile does not only ask for valuable insights from subordinates but also delegates them much more responsibility and complete freedom in how these tasks are going to be accomplished as long as they are delivered on time. Obviously, this management strategy absolutely requires very well-trained employees who don’t really like to be micromanaged all the time. But, if this condition is met, managers can produce a very content, relaxed, highly decentralized, and creative workforce which is impossible to conjure in any other way.
So, these were the six most common leadership profiles you will encounter in the corporate world. Which one is the best? Well, it really depends on your personal traits and the organization you are running. But, if we go back to Alexander the Great we will see that the thing that made him a truly efficient leader is that he was capable of emulating all these traits depending on the situation he found himself in. Therefore, although it is highly preferable to choose one style that will make the backbone of your activities, your greatest asset will be the ability to change gears if some unexpected problem shows its face.short url: