Leadership Styles (7)

Every person has their own style of leadership that they tend to lead towards. Some people are naturally more passive, and tend to be more like followers than leaders.

These people are probably more likely to take on a less aggressive leadership model, where they place more power in the hands of their followers rather than in their own hands.

In other words, they choose to defer power to those that they work with, rather than controlling everything themselves.

However, there are other people who are very assertive leaders, and try to get their followers to simply adopt their own ideas.

This can be liberating, especially for a person who has tried to work their way up to a leadership role in an organization for a long period of time.

Since people are naturally different and will be predisposed to lean towards certain leadership styles, there are several different kinds of leadership styles that have been identified.

Some of these have been identified by a man named Lewin, who studied leadership styles in 1939.

In his study, children were assigned a leader who represented one of three different leadership styles.

Researchers then observed how each group of children responded to the different kinds of leadership styles.

These leadership styles that he employed in his study consisted of:

  • Authoritarian style
    • This style of leader provides clear expectations for their followers. They are more likely to stick to their own ideas, and less likely to incorporate ideas that other people might contribute. This is probably the most totalitarian form of leadership, since it is most about setting up a framework for followers to undertake and the followers either have a choice to follow that framework or not work under the leader. They are also keen on enforcing the rules. If their followers do not match up with their expectations, they are likely to be on top of that employee and reiterating their expectations.
    • This style works well in situations where there is little to no time to get a task done, or where the leader is the person who knows the most about the topic at hand. But, this style does not encourage creativity, because employees are more concerned with getting the task done quickly and efficiently than they are concerned about thinking of new ways to accomplish the matter at hand. This style might also lead to feelings of resentment amongst employees, because they might feel like their thoughts do not matter, or like their own thoughts are being unfairly attacked or ignored. This might lead to a breakdown of group morale over time, even if it works for a certain period of time.
  • Participative style
    • This style of leader takes into account the thoughts and feelings of their followers, and wants to hear what others have to say. Rather than being the head of the food chain giving out orders, this leader prefers to be more of a part of the group working on a project, so as to give the rest of the group more agency. This leader will offer guidance as to what they think the right next steps might be on a given task, but their own ideas are not the end-all-be-all. If an employee or follower has a new or innovative idea that they want to introduce into a project, this leader is likely to take those ideas into consideration and try to incorporate them into a project somehow.
    • This was the most successful type of leadership in Lewin’s study, because it makes followers feel like their opinions matter and hold weight. When followers of an organization feel like their own thoughts and feelings hold weight in the future of the organization, they are much more likely to care about their work and want to put out new and thoughtful products from whatever they are making.
  • Delegative style
    • This leader does not want to be involved with the work of their followers. They decide what each person is going to do on a certain project, and they leave it up to their followers to figure out how they are going to do it. This leader is likely the kind to look forward to an end goal, and tell their followers to figure out a way to get to that end goal. They are not as aggressive as an authoritarian leader, who will be constantly checking in with their followers to see how things are getting done. Instead, this leader just expects the project to get done somehow, and leaves it to the employees to figure out how that is going to happen.
    • This style can lead to issues because when there is no clear direction in which the entire group is moving, fights are more likely to break out. 
    • Employees might begin to try and police each other by pointing figures for certain things not getting done, or not work as hard because there is no clear-cut person that they are trying to make proud. Additionally, employees might feel less motivated to complete their work when there is no defined reason for what they are doing, or no plan to help them feel like they are making
  • progress towards an end goal.

There are other styles of leadership as well. Some of these include:

  • Transformational leadership
    • This is the most effective leadership style, because it involves taking a stake in employees. Transformational leaders have to work hard to motivate their employees, in the hopes that one day their employees might become leaders themselves. These leaders do not only try to accomplish their own hopes and desires, but they try to instill their hopes and desires in the hearts of their employees as well. They want their employees to work to their fullest potential, and they are willing to work with their employees to help them achieve that goal. These kinds of leaders have to care about the organization that they are a part of, in order to truly be able to instill the values of the organization and of themselves in those who work for them.
    • This style of leadership leads to a boost in morale amongst employees, because they feel that they truly are arms of their organization and that their own personal thoughts and feelings matter. 
  • Transactional Leadership
    • This kind of leader is not interested in making an emotional connection with their employees. Instead, they view the employee-employer relationship as a transaction, where the employer asks the employee to do something, and the employee produces an output. 
    • This can be positive, because employees and employers know their places. Employees know that they can depend on their employer to always give them tasks that they know they can complete, and employers know that they can always count on their employees to produce whatever they ask them to produce. However, the drawback to this leadership style is that it can lead to employers and employees thinking robotically. Employees may be incentivized to simply keep producing the same thing over and over, rather than trying to come up with newer and perhaps more effective ways to solve a problem, and employers might lose their passion for a company over time.
  • Situational Leadership
    • These leadership styles were created by Hersey and Blanchard in 1969. These include:
      • Telling style
      • Selling style
      • Participating style
      • Delegating style
    • These styles are not dissimilar to the previously described styles. The telling style is similar to the authoritative style, since it is mainly based on telling employees what one expects of them. 
    • The selling style is like the participative style, because it is about the employer convincing employees in one way or another that they should have a stake in the company’s goals, and trying to make the employee feel as passionate about the company as the employer might feel. 
    • The participating style is similar to this as well, because it gives employees the chance to voice their own ideas and work them into the company in some ways. 
    • The delegating style is basically the same as the delegative style, in that the leader takes themself out of the equation and expects their employees to come up with an end product without their help. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What leadership style is least effective?

The autocratic style of leadership is the least effective in the business world.

What makes an effective leader?

An effective leader cares about the organization that they represent more than they care about getting their own thoughts and feelings across to employees.

At the end of the day, an effective leader is still an employee of the organization that they work for.

They are not on a power trip, and they keep their other employees in mind, and regard them as equals.

What is the most important skill of a leader?

The most important skill of a leader is being self-aware.

A leader needs to be able to check themselves and their actions, and recognize their place within a company, but also their position of power over employees, and not abuse either one. 

Interested in finding out about what kind of leadership style your employer might have?

Want to learn more about how different kinds of leadership styles affect different kinds of employees?

Feel free to read more about leadership styles at the links below:

Here are a lot of different links to novels about different kinds of leadership styles that can be found on Amazon, ranging across multiple different fields of work:

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