The Seven Types of Leadership Styles

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A good leader is not someone who simply gives orders to their followers and has them do stuff. Instead, good leaders inspire. They lead by example and they show what needs to be done by doing it directly. Using an effective leadership style is very important if you want to succeed in the modern business age.

More and more people look for people who they can follow and learn from. They don’t just want a boss who can give orders; they need someone who can show them the ropes and lead by example. Leadership styles are usually considered to be on a continuum; they range from autocratic and eventually go lighter and lighter, eventually bottoming out at laissez faire.

In the following paragraphs, we will discuss the seven types of leadership styles, and how they differ from one another.

  1. Autocratic Leadership Style

The most dominant style of leadership that you might have seen is the autocratic leadership style. Simply put, it’s about doing what the leader has asked, with little to no input from the followers. Autocratic leaders simply believe that they are the ones who know the most and they have the highest amount of experience.

They make the decisions without taking any kind of input from the team members. As such, there are no meetings or discussions. At most, there is a group meeting in which only one person gives the instructions and directives: the leader. This is perhaps the most restrictive form of leadership style out there, but that’s not to say it should be discouraged all the time.

Autocratic leadership is important when a person is dealing with a new group of members or people who are relatively inexperienced. It is going to take a bit of time for the team members to gain familiarity with that role, so it’s important that an authoritative figurehead is present to make sure that they can guide them at every step of the way.

  1. Authoritative Leadership

This may seem similar to autocratic leadership, but there’s a marked difference. Instead of saying, “do as you are told,” the authoritative leader primarily focuses on “follow me.” They are confident in their vision and they know how to set and balance expectations properly. Above all, they know how to challenge and energize their followers at every step of the way.

When uncertainty takes over the team, these are the people who know how to lead the way. They are going to help clear the air and make sure that all confusions are dealt with. They don’t simply give orders – they also explain why these orders are given. They help the followers see why they are taking particular steps, and what the benefits are likely going to be.

The biggest difference between autocratic and authoritative leaders is that they don’t simply give out the orders. They also take the time to explain their rationale behind those orders. This allows people to see how they can achieve different goals, and whether this is the kind of leader they want to follow.

  1. Pacesetters

The pacesetting style of leadership focuses on leaders who want their followers to simply carry on in their footsteps. When running, these people want to set the pace. They like to set the bar as high as possible, and then they push their team members to achieve or go faster than them.

These are the people who like pressure and invite it. However, because they always demand the absolute most from their team members, this style of leadership can prove to be hurtful at times. In many cases, the pace setting style does not always respect the wishes of the team members. As a result, many team members usually get stressed out because of this style.

The constant expectation of performing at 110% is often difficult to match. Then, in case the leader isn’t feeling good but the team is performing well, they may have a tendency to bring the team down with them, which is obviously not the best step.

  1. Democratic Style

This is the most common style of leadership that is usually prevalent around modern workplaces. The democratic leadership style simply focuses on the opinion of employees instead of enforcing the leader’s final verdict. The employee’s opinion is taken into account and a consensus is reached based on majority.

This is a participative form of leadership that focuses on promoting employee engagement. The focus here lies on promoting a team spirit and maximizing cooperation between the employees. This helps foster creativity and allows employees to develop and grow properly.

In this style of leadership, the final verdict still remains with the leader, though they usually give their input after the team has made a decision. However, the leader decides whether to go ahead with that decision or if something else should be chosen based on what is in the best interest of the company.

  1. Coaching Style

If the leader knows that they have a great deal of talent in the team, they may want to consider using a coaching style to help each member of the team achieve their full potential. In this style of leadership, it is the coach’s responsibility to help every member achieve their full potential.

These are leaders who open their hearts and minds and talk to each member and cater to their problems. They don’t really impose on the team members, but in case they feel that work is being affected, they usually step in.

  1. Affiliative Leadership Style

The second last style of leadership on this list is the affiliative style of leadership, in which the leader primarily focuses on the people. This is the style in which the leader gets up close and personal with their team and talks to each and every member on an individual basis to determine their strengths and weaknesses.

More importantly, they give considerable value to the emotional needs of each member of the team. The leader tries to create a pipeline or a channel that helps them connect directly with the team. This style of leadership helps in reducing the chances of emotional conflicts that might arise between different members of the team, and helps maintain harmony.

More importantly, this style of leadership fosters healthy relationships among the team members, which ultimately helps increase morale.

  1. Laissez-Faire Style

This is a completely hands-off approach, and considered the absolute opposite of the autocratic style. In this style of leadership, the leader believes that employees are responsible for their work and shows full faith in their ability to complete the work. The leader hardly tries to meddle with the work, and trusts the team to pull through.

In most cases, it can be hard to distinguish the leader out of the teams because they are so heavily integrated within the group. These are the most common styles of leadership and the differences between each to help you choose a suitable one.


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