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Most Common and Effective Leadership Styles: Where Do You Fit?

Apr 15, 2021

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Leadership styles are essentially defined by the way you provide direction, implement plans and keep your team motivated. It's how you get your people to want to perform, create and innovate.

And every leader is different.As a manager, owner or CEO, understanding your leadership style can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, guide your decisions and improve communication with those you are leading—ultimately creating better, healthier relationships with your employees. 

The 9 most common leadership styles

To help you understand the most common leadership styles and think about where you might fit, here's a brief description of each:

1. Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership is a leadership style in which leaders control all of the decisions, with very little input from the rest of the team. These leaders make choices on their own, based on their own beliefs, and do not consider the opinions of lower-level employees.

2. Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic leaders set expectations with clear rules, policies and hierarchies—all centered on the organization's administrative needs. Although these leaders will listen to the thoughts of their employees, they often reject input if it conflicts with company policy or established practices.

3. Coaching Leadership

Coaching leadership style is characterized by leaders who identify and nurture employee strengths, while focusing on strategies that will encourage teamwork and better collaboration. This style is similar to both participatory and strategic leadership, but with a heavier focus on growth and success at the individual level.

4. Laissez-Faire Leadership

Laissez-faire leadership is characterized by leaders who extend to their employees extreme levels of trust. They do not micromanage or provide a great deal of direction—and they encourage their employees to use their creativity, resources and experience to get the job done.

5. Participative Leadership

Participative leadership is exactly what it sounds like; it's where everyone has a voice (not to be confused with having a "vote"). Leaders make decisions based on the input of the team, and lower-level employees are able to exercise some authority—even though the leader more than likely has the final say. 

6. Servant Leadership

Servant leadership focuses on creating a more just and caring world. Servant leaders see themselves as existing to serve their people, not the other way around. A servant leader can often be found pitching in and otherwise encouraging the team. 

7. Strategic Leadership

Strategic leaders are focused on both company operations and growth opportunities. These leaders promote a culture of inquiry and persuade their employees to get on board with their strategic vision. They are able to connect with people while also having expectations for high performance.

8. Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership is characterized by leaders who value order and structure. Very common in organizations today, these leaders focus on specific tasks and use rewards and punishment to motivate employees.

9. Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership causes change in employees and organizational systems. Transformational leaders work closely with their team to identify necessary change, create a vision to guide change, and help execute that change.

Now that you know more about each leadership style, you may be wondering...

What is the best leadership style?

The most effective leadership styles are coaching, participatory, servant, strategic and transformational leadership, as they encourage healthy and positive relationships between the leader and his or her employees.

The least effective leadership styles are autocratic and bureaucratic, due to the demand for control and egocentrism on the part of the leader.   

Looking for some leadership inspiration?

The best leaders are those who inspire leadership in others. For tips on how to leverage the power of your team and accelerate your results, check out our recent post​​​​​​​—Does Your Leadership Inspire Leadership? It Will With These 3 Keys.

For a more hands-on approach, a little coaching can go a long way! Invest in your success and reach out to me today. Together we'll determine how I can best help you, your team and your company. 

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