Leadership starts with a purpose. Its a journey taken by an individual, guided by the deeply-held values and beliefs that eventually inspire a group of people, communities or nation to make a difference.
Every leader has its own Leadership style. Leadership style is the manner and approach they use to direct, implement, and motivate people to achieve common goals related to the social, business, political or religious cause.
Here, we take a look at the 10 best-known leadership styles in the world, including when they can be applied effectively and when they should be avoided:
10. Charismatic Leadership
Charismatic leadership emphasizes influencing a group or organization to make the world a better place. The charismatic leadership style relies on the charm and persuasiveness of the leader. Charismatic leaders are driven by their convictions and commitment to their cause. They motivate followers to get things done or improve the way certain things are done.
Charismatic leaders often try to make the status quo better and they lead through personal conviction. Martin Luther King, Jr, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela are examples of a charismatic leader who used powerful oratory, an engaging personality, and an unwavering commitment to positive change in the lives of millions of people.
Leadership Style: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
PROS: Charismatic leaders are often a catalyst for social change as they inspire millions of people to work together for a common cause. Their management style prioritizes learning from mistakes in an effort to succeed in their mission. They inclined more toward personal risk-taking and are articulate and visionary towards their goals.
CONS: In certain circumstances, charismatic leaders may develop tunnel vision or arrogance, undoing their previous good deeds and become unresponsive to their subordinates or constituent. Charismatic leaders may believe they are above the law, committing financial or ethical violations.
9. Transformational Leadership
In the transformational style of leadership, leaders work to enhance the motivation and engagement of followers by creating a vision of the future that they share with their team members so that everyone can work together toward that shared goal and vision.
They also work with the goal of transforming their teams and organizations so that they’re constantly improving. They continuously emphasize motivation and inspiration among their team members and are proactive in their decision-making approach.
Transformational leadership is a perfect match for a small company that has big dreams and wants to change and adapts to get there. Leaders in this style, have the desire to change the structure of the organization and can motivate the current workers to buy into the new direction.
Leadership Style: “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” –Peter Drucker.
PROS: Transformational leadership inspires people to achieve unexpected or remarkable results. They are also often seen as authentic, self-aware and empathetic (with others). In addition, they handle conflict among team members well and hold both themselves and their team members accountable. They are good at balancing short-term vision and long-term goals.
CONS: Transformational leadership at times are ineffective in the initial stage or ad-hoc situations and require an existing structure to fix first before implementing their vision or goals. They are also a bad fit in bureaucratic structures.
8. Transactional Leadership
In the transactional style of leadership, leadership focuses on supervision, organization, and performance; leaders promote compliance by followers through both rewards and punishments.
Transactional leaders are reactive and their style focuses on the idea that accepting a job is a sort of transaction, with positive and negative reinforcement.
This style is highly effective where leaders are likely to command military operations, manage large corporations, or lead international projects that require strict rules and regulations to complete objectives on time or move people and supplies in an organized way.
Leadership Style: “Leaders give employees something they want in exchange for getting something they want”.
PROS: The transactional leader’s value order and structure. This style works in situations where you need to clearly outline a difficult job or task before choosing someone to take on the role. It may also help ensure that everyone is very clear about what is expected of them.
CONS: The transaction leadership style has unbendable policies and rules, which may lead to low job satisfaction. Going against these policies or instructions from leaders can lead to negative implications like subjected to close scrutiny, suspension, and even termination. Moreover, creativity is limited since the goals and objectives are already set and this style often does not reward personal initiative.
7. Laissez-Fair Leadership
In this style, the leader allows the team members to make the decisions, but the leader is still responsible for the decisions that are made by them. This leadership style is used when team members are able to analyze the situation and determine what needs to be done and how to do it.
Because team members get to exercise a great deal of freedom free from excessive micromanaging, they often feel more inspired and creative.
However, due to limited oversight or direction by the leader, this style is not suitable for high stakes and high-pressure work settings where every detail needs to be perfect and completed in a timely manner.
Leadership Style: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs
PROS: This style allows freedom for followers to make decisions based on their understanding and team members are expected to solve problems on their own. This leadership style can be very effective in situations where only team members are highly skilled, motivated, and capable of working on their own and need very little guidance.
CONS: However, Laissez-faire leadership is not ideal in situations where followers or group members lack the knowledge or experience they need to complete tasks and make decisions. Moreover, some people are not good at setting their own deadlines, managing their own projects and solving problems on their own.
6. Pacesetting Leadership
The Pacesetting style of leadership is similar to coercive leadership, however, in this style, leaders sets up high-performance expectations for themselves and the followers that must be met. Leaders in this style are often obsessive about doing things better and faster and expect the same from everyone, no Ifs, Ands, or Buts about it.
If that doesn’t happen in the organization, people are replaced by the leader, who also demonstrates a similar can-do attitude.
Leadership Style: “Do it my way”.
PROS: This style of leadership works best when followers are passionate about their work, highly skilled, and morale is high.
CONS: The pacesetting style can be effective at times, especially in the presence of highly motivated and competent team members. However, in the opposite case, it can often undermine the company climate and can undercut morale and make people feel as if they are failing.
5. Coaching Leadership
In this style of leadership, leaders can maximize their workers’ effectiveness by acting like a coach instead of a traditional boss. The coaching leaders focus more on the strengths and weaknesses of an employee in an effort to improve and encourage him or her along the way. They are also very effective in settings where performance or results need improvement and help others to advance their skills when necessary.
Leadership Style: “Let me help you develop”.
PROS: The coaching leaders build bench strength, and provide a lot of guidance. The coaching leadership style is most effective when followers are more responsible, experienced, and agreeable.
CONS: However, the coaching style should be avoided when employees are unwilling to learn or if the leader lacks proficiency and temperament.
4. Affiliative Leadership
In this style of leadership, the affiliative leader praises and nurtures members to cultivate a sense of belonging in an organization. The leader acts more or less as a fatherly-figure, who works to promotes harmony, helps to solve any conflicts and treats employees and partners as though they are members of a large, extended family.
In exchange, the leader expects loyalty and trust from employees, as well as obedience. The leader makes sure that their followers feel connected to each other.
Leadership style: “People first, task second”.
PROS: This style of leadership works best when morale is low and teambuilding is needed. This style creates strong emotional bonds and produces strong loyalty in an organization.
As a result, this style is effective in most conditions, particularly in instances that trust or moral needs to be improved. It can also be necessary when trust has been broken and to rebuild an organization a strong team spirit is required.
CONS: Typically the followers will receive much praise from this style of leadership, which can create a culture where the poor performance or even mediocrity is tolerated.
Constructive criticism is also left out in this style, meaning employees will likely stay stagnant in their workplace performance. Therefore, it is strongly advisable that leaders should not use this style alone in their decision-making process.
3. Coercive Leadership
In the coercive style of leadership, the leaders demand immediate compliance with their orders. The coercive leader accomplishes tasks by bullying and sometimes even demeaning their team members or followers.
Leadership Style: “Do what I tell you, or else”.
PROS: The coercive leadership style is best used in situations where the company or followers require a complete turnaround attempt or in a crisis situation.
For example, it is effective during disasters or dealing with underperforming employees, usually as a last resort. Under those conditions, the immediate compliance with an order or instruction quickens the road to recovery.
CONS: Unfortunately, this style of leadership comes with severe drawbacks and has a very negative impact on the overall work climate. This style provides little opportunity for reward, and by demanding compliance with orders, it removes from workers all responsibilities for their individual actions.
2. Authoritative Leadership
In the authoritative or autocratic style of leadership, the leaders make all decisions on their own without consulting with team members. The leader doesn’t include their team members in their decision-making process, but tell them what to do and how to do it.
This style of leadership works best when the workgroup is without clear direction, and its leader is an expert that knows what needs to get done. Visionary leaders in this style of leadership take a firm but a fair approach that mobilizes team members toward a specific goal.
Leadership Style: “Come with me”.
PROS: This style of leadership can be a good system for making quick decisions. If the leader is competent and a good coach can motivate team members to learn new skills and to achieve the desired goals quickly.
CONS: However, the authoritative style of leadership, can make team members feel out of touch or dissatisfied with their working environment if they don’t feel like their opinions or ideas are ever considered in those important decisions.
1. Democratic Leadership
In the democratic style of leadership, leaders include their team members in their decision-making process. While leaders are ultimately responsible for making final decisions, they often ask team members what they think and try to take their thoughts and opinions into account.
Leaders in democratic leadership reach decisions by consensus. They hold many meetings and listens to others’ concerns and trust the individuals with the capability to develop the appropriate direction for themselves and their team.
Leadership Style: “Let’s work it out together”.
PROS: The Democratic style of leadership can help increase engagement among team members, and is most effective when the team members are competent and can contribute and coordinate with each other.
When used effectively the democratic style motivates individuals by empowering them to make decisions about their own work and provide the leader valuable input (if he or she is unclear) about the best way forward and wants to hear others’ ideas and contributions
CONS: It may not always be the best style for leaders who need to make quick decisions and is least effective when in crisis and there is no time to hold long meetings or the individuals are incompetent and need close supervision.
Each Leadership styles offers several pros and cons, and not one style is suitable for every situation. Therefore, the most important thing to note is that all styles of leadership are good in different situations.
The best leaders and managers don’t know just one style of leadership — they’re skilled at executing several and have the flexibility to switch between styles as the circumstances dictate. By doing so, they maximize their strengths and the strengths of those around them through effective, honest and professional leadership.
Further Reading: The Harvard Business Review, Daniel Goleman’s “Leadership That Gets Results” outlines the most successful leadership styles in business.