At some points in your career, you may take on a leadership role in some capacities. Whether you’re leading a meeting, a project, a team or an entire department, you might consider identifying with or adopting a defined leadership style.
When we think about different leaders, it’s tempting to group them into just two categories: good and bad. Maybe there was that former boss who made you feel supported and inspired. And maybe, there was also that manager who was always criticising and picking on you.
1. Democratic Leadership
All or most group members are able to participate in decision-making processes. Democratic leaders emphasize equality and encourage discussion and a flow of ideas. It’s also known as participative leadership. Democratic tends to be an effective leadership style and has a number of benefits—it encourages creativity, emphasizes fairness, and values intelligence and honesty—there are some potential drawbacks. Roles may be less well defined, which could create communication problems and failures. Some group members, typically those with less experience, may be less willing or able to contribute, or feel that their contributions are not as valued as others are.
2. Laissez-faire Leadership
Laissez-faire leaders provide the necessary tools and resources. But then, they step back and let their team members make decisions, solve problems, and get their works accomplished without having to worry about the leader obsessively supervising their every move.
3. Autocratic Leadership
Autocratic leaders view themselves as having absolute power and make decisions on behalf of their subordinates. They dictate not only what needs to be done, but also how those tasks should be accomplished. This type of leadership is generally very rigid, but in situations that demand structure, quick decision-making, and close supervision, it can be beneficial to the organization. There are also many pitfalls: the organization cannot function without the leader, communication may be flawed or lacking, and workers may feel demoralized.
4. Supportive Leadership
Supportive leaders delegate and assign tasks to employees, but also provide employees with the skills needed to complete the task. They work through problems and issues with employees and offer a high degree of attention and coaching on an as-needed basis. The employee maintains autonomy, but the supportive leader will step in and work through issues and problems with the employee as they arise.
5. Transformational leadership
This style does not require the leader to be present to effect change, because the leader initiates transformation through the organization and motivates employees to perform.
Transformational leadership demands a high level of productivity and involvement from employees. While this style can go a long way in effecting real change, it may overuse some employees to the detriment of others. Transformational leaders also risk setting too-high, unrealistic expectations for team members.