Leadership style in management refers to the way leaders approach their roles make decisions, and choose to interact with and guide their team members.
It involves the approach, mindset, and behaviours adopted by a leader when making decisions, setting goals, communicating, and motivating their team.
Understanding different leadership styles is essential for managers, as it helps them adapt their approach based on the needs of their team and organisation.
Effective leadership involves more than just giving orders and expecting employees to follow them blindly. It requires strong communication skills, empathy, vision, and the ability to inspire and motivate others towards a common goal. Every leader has a unique style that reflects their personality traits, experiences, and values. These traits or leadership styles have been categorised into the following styles:
Autocratic leadership style refers to a management approach where the leader holds complete control and decision-making authority within an organization or team. In this style, the leader typically makes decisions without seeking input or considering the opinions of others.
Autocratic leaders often exercise a high level of power and may give orders and directions without explanation or justification. This leadership style is characterized by a top-down approach, where information flows from the leader to the subordinates. Critics argue that autocratic leadership can stifle creativity and limit employee engagement, but proponents suggest that it can be effective in situations where quick decisions and strong direction are necessary.
The military provides an illustration of autocratic leadership. In this scenario, leaders must make prompt and decisive decisions that can affect their soldiers’ protection and the mission’s success. In military operations, precise communication and efficient decision-making are essential. An autocratic approach facilitates such processes. However, this strategy could also breed resentment among soldiers who feel they have no say in what happens to them.
Certain industries, like healthcare and emergency services, may also require autocratic leadership.
Strategic leaders sit at the crossroads between a company’s core activities and its potential for expansion. They embrace the responsibility of executive interests while ensuring that everyone else’s working conditions remain secure.
Strategic thought embraces many groups of workers simultaneously, making this a desirable leadership approach in many businesses. On the other hand, leaders who behave in this manner can set a risky example in terms of how many people they will serve at once and what the best course of action for the business is if everyone gets their way all of the time.
Transformational leadership is a management approach that focuses on empowering and inspiring followers to achieve their full potential. This style is characterized by a leader who motivates and encourages their team members to go beyond their own self-interests for the collective benefit of the organization.
Transformational leaders inspire followers by setting a clear vision and challenging them to reach higher levels of performance. They foster a sense of trust and respect among team members, and actively listen to their ideas and feedback. Critics argue that transformational leadership may rely too heavily on the charisma and personality of the leader, and that it can be difficult to maintain high levels of motivation and inspiration over time. However, proponents believe that this leadership style can lead to increased innovation, collaboration, and employee satisfaction.
Democratic leadership is a form of leadership that is participatory and inclusive. Democratic leaders do not dictate what should happen but instead ask for input and ideas from those who will be affected by the decisions. One of the main features of democratic leadership is that it is often more effective than authoritative leadership because those being led feel as though their opinions and voices were heard. They have helped to make the decision.
Democratic leadership ensures that the chief takes decisions based on the input of all members of the team. Each employee has a fair say in a project, even though they make the final decision.
Democratic leadership is one of the most powerful forms because it encourages lower-level workers to wield the power they will require in future jobs. It’s pretty similar to how decisions are taken in corporate boardrooms.
The term “Laissez-Faire” leadership is often used to describe a style of management where the employees are given freedom and autonomy. This is in contrast to a more directive style of management where the manager takes more control over the work process. Laissez-faire leadership works best when employees are self-directed, committed, competent and enthusiastic.
If you recall your high school, French, you’ll know that laissez-faire leadership is the most miniature invasive leadership style. Leaders who follow the French word “laissez-faire” mean “let them do,” and they delegate virtually all power to their workers.
For example, you may see a laissez-faire business founder in a new startup that makes no big office rules about operating hours or deadlines. They can place complete confidence in their employees while concentrating on the business’s day-to-day operations.
Transactional leadership is a management approach that focuses on achieving specific goals through a system of rewards and punishments. This style is characterized by a leader who establishes clear expectations and provides guidance and direction to their team members.
Transactional leaders reward individuals for meeting expectations and deliver consequences for failing to meet them. They maintain a structured and organized work environment, where roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. Critics argue that transactional leadership may create a narrow focus on short-term goals and discourage creativity and independent thinking. However, proponents believe that this leadership style can be effective in situations that require efficiency, productivity, and adherence to established procedures.
Members of the bureaucracy follow the rules. Unlike autocratic leadership, this type of leadership can listen to and accept employee feedback. Still, the leader is more likely to ignore employee input if it contradicts company policies or past practices.
Employees do not feel as dominated as they may under autocratic administration, but there is always a limit on how many employees will do with their employment. This can easily stifle creativity, which is not good for businesses aiming for big ambitions and fast expansion.
Like the coach of a sports team, this chief is concerned with understanding and cultivating the individual talents of each member of the team. They also concentrate on tactics to help their staff work together more effectively. This leadership model is similar to strategic and democratic leadership but primarily emphasises individual employee development and performance.
Rather than requiring all staff to rely on the same abilities and priorities, this leader might form a team where each individual has a particular experience or ability set. In the long term, this chief is concerned with developing solid teams that collaborate successfully and respect each other’s unique abilities.