Ever taken time to reflect and think about what is your leadership style? Take ten different leaders, and you’ll have ten different leadership styles. Even when people at the top of organisations generally agree and share the same values, you’ll find key differences in the ways they approach problems and interact with the people who rely on them.
Leadership styles in business cover the worst, the best, and absolutely everything in between. Knowing where your style might fall is the first step in reflecting and improving how you lead.
How do you define leadership style?
Leadership style covers the choices and approaches a leader takes when heading up their organisation, from the ways in which they motivate their teams to the choices they make for the business itself.
Defining leadership style encompasses choices including the subtle and individual—like communication, tone, and personal philosophy—as well as the big decisions, like who to hire and indeed how much control they reserve over business processes.
It could be that a business leader takes a backseat approach with very soft influence, which would be just as much a valid leadership style as somebody who touches base with everybody and wants daily updates on what’s happening.
Active versus passive involvement, hard versus soft influence, competitive versus collaborative mindset—these and more are all differentials that can align or set apart different leadership styles.
Why are leadership styles important?
Understanding your leadership style, or those of others, is key for picking apart the choices people make as leaders, understanding why they make them, and how they can make better choices.
This kind of reflection is the only true route that leaders can take to improve on how to lead a team. Trying to learn new behaviours and perspectives and philosophies is all well and good, but it won’t do anything if the core attitudes and values won’t shift.
If a leader already thinks they have the best style or an approach that can only be embellished rather than fundamentally rewritten, then it’s impossible to change things for the better.
That isn’t to say that every leadership style fits into a definite ‘good’ or ‘bad’ category. You don’t necessarily need to change your leadership style wholesale in order to improve and grow, but you do need the ability to take ego out of the picture, look at yourself as others see you, and cut out what works.
Types of leadership styles
There’s no set range of leadership styles and, after all, every leader will differ just as every person differs. However, there are some common overarching styles and approaches that can be identified from the many ways in which people adopt authority.
We all know authoritarian leaders, whether we’ve had to deal with them in the office or we’ve seen them making the news from across the globe. Authoritarian leaders want their instructions carried out as they gave them and leave little to no leeway.
Authoritarian leaders might lead a team that works directly under them, but they will still prefer to hold all the power themselves and may only use their executives to speak for them. Authoritarian leaders can be effective, but can also be looked at unfavourably by those to answer to them.
The direct opposite of the above in many ways, democratic leaders are interested in giving a say to everybody. They prefer to leave certain decisions up to group votes and discussions.
Of course, not every decision can be made this way, so democratic leaders will still be making plenty of choices on their own—or at the very least, with the help of an executive team who will get to debate between themselves.
Staff in organisations under a democratic leadership style will have a lot of room to shape and have input in the culture, choosing how to spend team building days and how the business invests back into its people.
Strategic leadership is focused on the operations of a business and how its performing in its market. They analyse and keep their eyes on the future, watching competitors and constantly re-evaluating where the business sits in a wider market context.
Strategic leaders are planners and large-scale thinkers. This often directly affects their business and the people within it, as they’re looking for the best ways for the business to break into new opportunities and thrive.
The realm of streamlining processes and merging and acquiring might escape many of the employees working for them, but strategic leaders think about the big moves so that others don’t need to.
Transformational leadership is a collaborative and energising type of leadership. It aims to inspire and stoke the fires in others, rather than dictate and delegate.
Organisations that are focusing on how they can achieve change and develop their people will benefit greatly from a transformational leader. They help others see their potential and lift them up, building stronger morale and greater confidence in their workforce.
These leadership styles and more can often overlap in the same person, creating their own unique leadership style.
How to identify your leadership style
One of the best ways to understand your leadership style is to talk with people who can give you honest feedback from first-hand experience of how you lead. Even if they can’t define your overall style, their feedback about how you communicate, delegate, and work with your staff could serve as key points in identifying your style.
Becoming a better leader
So, what is your leadership style? We can tell you, and we can show you how to make it even better.
Team Academy has been training leaders of all stripes for a long time, and our experience allows us to cut to the quick when it comes to leadership styles. If you’re itching to know more about your style and how it can be improved, perhaps through one of our exceptional and fun leadership training programmes don’t hesitate.
Contact us today to learn more.