Types of leadership

Leaders and managers are some of the most important roles that you will find in any company. Without leaders and managers, companies will lack structure, planning, vision, and motivation. 

Leadership uses social influences to promote team members’ efforts towards achieving a goal.

Understanding your leadership style is essential to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. These leadership styles will give you a universal guide to different leaders.

Daniel Goleman’s leadership styles

Huge amounts of research, time and effort have been spent on refining leadership styles to maximise productivity, and inclusivity, as well as to foster creative thinking and problem-solving. Daniel Goleman from Harvard Business review elaborates and points out 6 leadership styles. 

Autocratic leadership

Autocratic leadership is a leadership style characterised by an individual’s control over all decisions and asking for very little input from group members. This leader typically makes all the decisions based on their ideas and judgments – they rarely accept advice from their followers. 

Autocratic leadership involves absolute control over a group and is effective when needing to manage people who miss deadlines, in high-conflict departments, or in teams that rely on quick decisions to be made by a leader.

Pace setting leadership

In a pace-setting leadership style, the leader sets a pace for the team they manage. The leader sets high standards and targets for themselves and expects the team to match and follow suit with high-quality performance, speed, and quality. This leadership approach can be summarised as:  Do as I do and do it now!

This type of leadership is results focused; the leader expects the team to deliver high-quality work within set deadlines. 

Short term, this can be a great approach to a project requiring urgency and immediate results, however, long term, this approach can be detrimental to team culture and motivation and can lead to burn-out.

Transformational leaders

These leaders take centre stage and inspire others to act. In its purest form, it creates valuable and positive changes among followers and the vision of developing the followers into leaders. 

These leaders look to inspire employees and seek to share their motivation. They bring change when they have a clear vision for the future. These leaders seek to share their beliefs with the employees and help employees buy into a concept or project. 

It’s a management style that’s designed to give employees more room to be creative, look to the future and find new solutions to old problems. Employees on the leadership track will also be prepared to become transformational leaders themselves through mentorship and training. This leadership type is great for creating new visions of change and bringing forth innovation.

Coaching leadership

A coaching leadership style is an approach that creates a culture of high performance. Coaching leadership incorporates coaching mindsets and behaviours, synthesising them to create the highest-performing type of leadership. It does this by unlocking and enabling potential. This is distinct from the traditional management style of command and control which can often stifle potential. Put quite simply, it is about helping someone else to learn – without telling them what to do or what to think.

This approach helps the employees improve a lot as they are getting the personal guidance that they need from their team leader or manager. A coach facilitates learning, using their skills to help an individual to improve their own performance.

Democratic leadership

A key feature of this leadership style is that the team members feel empowered because they are included in the decision-making which leads to inclusion, creativity, and innovation. 

Because the leader is asking for team input, they should take the team’s ideas seriously, and not base their decisions on biased opinions and ideas. When everyone is involved in the decision-making process, however, it can sometimes do more harm than good. In times of panic, the leader will need to take charge and make the decisions. Democratic leadership can be a sham when leaders ask for opinions and then ignore the opinions and the decisions of the team. This is likely to lead to cynics and feelings of betrayal from the employees. 

The leader has the final say, so although all parties can share ideas and input, the final decision rests with the leader. If a leader has a democratic leadership style, they should be open and flexible, considering their team’s opinions and ideas.

Affiliative leadership

An affiliative leader is one who approaches leadership with their team members’ happiness and well-being as the priority. They develop and build bonds between team members and focus on employee motivation and loyalty to the organisation. This people-first approach assists in creating a working environment that inspires teamwork, togetherness, happiness, and harmony. The leader takes charge of the team, but through positive feedback, always reiterates the team members value and importance to the organisation.

Delegative or Laissez-faire leadership

In this leadership style, leaders entrust their team members to make decisions that are in the best interest of the team. Laissez-faire is a French term that means ‘leave alone’ – which indicates team members have complete autonomy over their decision-making with little to no involvement from the leader/manager.

What is the best leadership style?

When it comes down to selecting the best leadership style, there is not necessarily a one size fits all approach. Different working environments, and of course different teams and their roles might all require a different style of leadership. You might be inclined to default towards a style of leadership you prefer, however, it is better if you are aware of all the different styles of leadership, and adjust your leadership style according to the circumstances you are facing.

In saying that, the most popular leadership style is the democratic leadership style. This adopts the approach that employees, no matter their position and rank in the team or organisation, have an input into the decision, however, the leader must make the final call. 

On the other hand, the least used leadership style is the delegative leadership type. Research has found that this type of leadership leads to the lowest productivity in its team members as it is the least controlling and the leader relies on the team to produce on their own.

Online leadership courses

Upskillist – Leadership and Management

This course provides the opportunity for the leader to develop their leadership style and obtain the skills and insights needed to successfully master the art of leading and managing in the work world.

Upskillist – What kind of leader are you

This course provides an introduction to leadership skills and competencies in the workplace. By defining leadership and determining what type of leader you are, you will get a better understanding of why leadership makes a difference in individuals, teams and an organisation.

Upskillist – Coaching for leaders (COMING SOON IN 2023)

This course is specifically designed for managers/leaders who believe in creating success through others. The influence of coaching opens opportunities to lead toward increased accountability, improved resilience, healthier relationships, more innovative thinking and better performance. This course aims to focus mostly on the acquiring of coaching skills and the coaching ‘way of being’ elements, and covers the process aspects for when they are needed as a coaching leader.

Udemy – Think like a leader

This course is suitable for current or aspiring leaders in any kind of organisation, club, or new business. The course focuses on very actionable daily habits and strategies that, taken as a whole, can transform your leadership capabilities and success.

EdX – Becoming a successful leader

The course teaches you to embody empowerment, accountability, courage, and humility, key leadership skills linked to inclusive, successful teams.

EdX – Agile leadership principles and practices

This course is all about learning how to maximise the performance of a team in business or any other area. The course centers on two very teachable skills, facilitation, and communication. Agile leadership refers to leadership that redefines and redistributes team roles to leverage the team’s full talent and potential. 

Coursera – Building your leadership skills

This course emphasises self-awareness and self-confidence as the foundation upon which great leadership is built. It centers on a brand of leadership called “Savoir-Relier” (SR), which is based on trust and sense. The focus is strongly on leadership at the individual level, self-awareness, intuition, confidence, and trust.

LinkedIn learning – Coaching skills for managers and leader

This short course walks through the distinction between coaching, leading, and managing, and offers actionable tips and strategies for coaching in the business world. Students learn different coaching frameworks, how to set goals and give feedback as a coach, and how to work within the GROW coaching model. 

Upskillist - GROW coaching model

The GROW coaching model presented in this course can be used as a framework for your coaching conversations. The power of the GROW coaching model is that it leads to a clearly defined end result through four phases. The coachee is personally active in identifying problems and generating ideas for solutions. This means that anything that comes out of the coaching session has a lot of chance to stick.

Upskillist – Team management and motivation

The focus of this course is to develop and improve team collaboration, teamwork and company morale. It touches on many different aspects of leading a team, including the traditional meaning of work, the evolution of the workplace and employees in the modern working world. This course touches on teamwork, collaboration, team building, culture and managing different aspects in the working world, like change, diversity and culture.

Upskillist – Training Needs Analysis

In this course the process of identifying skills gaps within an organisation are covered, and guidance is provided on implementing correction strategies. In a changing world of work, employees value professional development and are more likely to join an organisation that promotes growth. In this course, the benefits of targeted learning are explored and the impact on the return on investment for employers is considered. The preparations needed to conduct a fair, valid and reliable analysis as well as the steps to conduct the training needs assessment in line with a project plan are all explored in great detail.

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