When you imagine a great leader, who springs to mind? And once you’ve imagined a leader, can you imagine what leadership style they used? There are many different leadership styles, and each one is suited to a different scenario or team. For example, some workplaces require an autocratic and decisive method, whereas others require more of an arm around the shoulder to motivate them.
Here, we look at four of the most common kinds of business leadership styles – as well as their advantages and disadvantages.
With the internet awash with different leadership courses, and scholars studying leaders for centuries, it’s clear to see that there is more than one style to fit the bill. But which one is the best for your business? It all depends on the team you have, their strengths, and how they respond to your actions.
Read on to learn about four of the most common leadership types and how the advantages or disadvantages would fit your business.
Authoritarian leadership is a style of manager or boss that has total control and is the sole decision-maker. This kind of leadership style is common when the manager is the most knowledgeable member of the team. When a team needs clear guidelines, the authoritarian leader might be the best option. These kinds of leaders will take little input from their team, which has its advantages and disadvantages.
As more inspirational forms of leadership have come to the fore, authoritarian leaders have become less common. Let’s take a look at some of the key pros and cons of an autocratic leadership style.
When pushed for time, an authoritarian leadership style can be beneficial as action must be taken decisively. This type of leader reduces decision-making time, allowing the team to achieve results swiftly. With transparent decision-making, mistakes made in carrying out plans can be reduced. An authoritarian leader will set clear guidelines for their team, minimising confusion and ambiguity. Decisive action can also create consistent results.
Although clear guidelines are an advantage, the rigid nature of this leadership style can lead to an increase in employee turnover. In addition, staff can become unhappy at the lack of team input and opportunity for creativity, leading them to find work elsewhere. With no opportunity for input, creativity is stifled, and ideas can become hard to come by. On top of this, there is reduced team collaboration which can create resentment towards the leader.
A delegative leadership style relies on delegating tasks out to the team and spreading the workload. With a competent team, this can be a highly successful strategy. Team members can carry out tasks to the best of their ability without too much guidance.
However, when left to their own devices, team members could either fall out or not work as hard as they could – leading to low productivity.
When left to carry out work on their own, experienced employees can feel empowered and responsible for the quality of their work. The result of this is higher employee satisfaction and quality of work.
Furthermore, creativity and innovation breed in this kind of environment. Employees feel comfortable expressing themselves in their work, knowing they are trusted. A knock-on effect of this is a more positive work environment.
One of the downsides to a delegative leadership style is the potential ambiguity in responsibility. Employees may not always be clear on their role or the tasks needing to be carried out.
Furthermore, this leadership style could lead to issues in the team adapting to changes in the workplace. With team members being comfortable with their responsibilities, they may not be receptive to change.
Transactional leadership in the workplace relies heavily on reward/punishment “transactions” between leader and employee.
The leader will use rewards or punishments to encourage the team to get tasks done, selecting either dependant on the outcome. This strategy creates a give and take scenario, which focuses on routines and procedures rather than changes to the business.
The crucial advantage of this management style is the level of motivation seen in employees. As employees know both the positive and negative results of each job they undertake, they are more inclined to give 100% effort.
As transactional leaders are results-driven and use a “carrot and stick” management method, they will also set clear, time-bound goals for their team. By doing this, they are increasing the clarity in everything the team does.
Furthermore, the productivity levels of a team operating under this leadership style are usually high. With rewards on offer and negative reinforcement being a constant threat, teams are driven to deliver their work as required.
The downside to transactional leadership styles is the minimising of creativity and ownership. Driven by rewards and punishment, employees will not step outside of the structure and put their stamp on the team.
The knock-on effect of a lack of creativity and ownership is a lack of leaders or the development of leaders. As a result, there will be a vacuum of leadership and a culture of followers over leaders, which does not help successional planning.
Transformational leadership styles cause change in individuals and focus on the empowerment of team members.
The leader will inspire employees with a plan, vision, or goal and then empower them to achieve it through their skillsets. The leader or manager will also embody the image they project.
As transformational leadership has such a positive spin, it can lead to a lower employee turnover rate. In addition, employees can feel as if they can achieve more due to empowerment, which results in higher morale.
This leadership style focuses on relationships, further leading to higher morale as staff feel valued and part of the conversation. Due to the relationship focus, there is no forced attitude to the management style.
One drawback of the positive nature of this leadership style is the constant requirement for motivation and feedback. While this may not be an issue for some, other businesses may see this as time-consuming.
In addition, tasks all require the consent and agreement of the whole team. This is a slower approach to getting things done and is a knock-on effect of focusing on relationships.
With these leadership styles up your sleeve now, you should be well set to make an informed decision on which is best for your workplace. Consider the needs of your employees, their strengths, and their weaknesses before deciding which is best. Leadership styles are just as much about the team as the leader, so choose wisely.
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