Leadership Styles – Types of Leadership Styles

Leadership is defined as the action of being at the head of a group. A leader is a person given some authority over a group whose role is to guide and foster productivity among members towards some common purpose. Many views on good leadership exist, and there are multiple leadership styles and methods of effective leadership that vary depending on the group type and the goals it sets out to achieve.

Leadership Styles are philosophies of leadership that guide the actions of the leader. There are different types of Leadership Styles based on culture, values, and the leader’s own personal character traits. There are several commonly accepted leadership styles, which include Transformational, Transactional,  Democratic, Bureaucratic, Servant, Authoritarian, and Laissez-Faire. Some elements of each type of Leadership styles are often combined in the same person as it is rare for a leader to neatly fit into only one category. Situational Leadership is the idea that the best leaders will use a blend of different Leadership styles to fit the situation.

Types of Leadership Styles

(1) Transformational Leaders are also known as Charismatic Leaders, who lead by inspiring others to create and innovate. These leaders are generally well-liked by staff but may think too broadly about their vision to successfully implement their ideas. Charismatic leaders, in particular, tend to have an almost cult-like following, which can be detrimental when they leave their position since their position of power is tied to the individual.

(2) Transactional Leaders assert their authority using exchanges of punishments and rewards with their staff. These leaders rely upon clearly established roles and boundaries in a hierarchy. This type of leader is typically seen as fair, but is usually too conventional to allow much creative innovation.

(3) Democratic Leaders or participative leaders tend to lead by consensus, asking subordinates for their opinions and information to come to more collective decisions. These processes ensure that staff voices are heard, but may spend too much time in a discussion when action is needed.

(4) Bureaucratic Leaders take policy and protocol seriously, following rules by the book and adhering to strict hierarchies in an established chain of command. These types of leaders tend to exist in environments that are already bureaucratic, like government or military, and though they are predictable and methodical they are generally not well-liked or fast moving.

(5) Servant Leaders do not like to assert authority over their subordinates and instead model leadership through self-sacrifice and prioritization of the needs of their staff. It can also be described as altruistic leadership. These leaders may be seen as generous and kind but can also be viewed as weak in authority and easily overcome by adversaries.

(6) Authoritarian Leaders are an extreme version of transactional leaders, with an emphasis on power and control over their staff. Authoritarian leaders are dictatorial, strict, and rarely take staff input into consideration. These leaders can be effective in military environments but tend to cause workers to leave organizations when this style is used in the office.

(7) Laissez-Faire Leaders are laid-back, allowing workers to lead themselves and rarely getting involved in day-to-day decision making. Deriving their name from the French phrase “laissez-faire” which means “to leave alone”, these leaders may give employees too little direction to be able to work effectively. This leadership style may function well in an environment where employees are highly skilled and self-motivated so little supervision is needed.

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