Six Leadership Styles – Which One Are You?

Of course there are more than six leadership styles but for the purposes of this discussion we will focus on the following six styles of leadership; Authoritarian, Democratic, Transactional, Transformational, Situational, and Laissez-faire.

An authoritarian leader likes to be in charge. They are very close to being a dictator but of course they aren’t. Although they may take advice from their staff it generally will fall on deaf ears. A teacher issuing an assignment to their class or a police officer providing traffic control might be a good example of how an authoritarian leader issues direction. They know best! There are times when an authoritarian leader is beneficial, such as, in the military. While I served in the Marine Corps there is no question that sometimes orders must be issued and not questioned. However, in a civilian environment I am not convinced that an authoritarian leader is the best style of leadership.

The next of the six leadership styles is the democratic leader. The democratic leader is the leader that likes to get a consensus before moving forward. One could say this is like getting buy in but if the democratic leader continues to lead like this they will sooner or later lose respect. Some might even begin referring to this type of leader as a person that can’t make a decision on their own. In my opinion the democratic leadership style is good for the person leading a group of peers through a process. Maybe they are the chairperson of a committee. Another good time might be if there is a major change that needs to happen within your department. This is a good time to get that buy in that we spoke of earlier.

The transactional leader is the one that uses motivation to drive their staff. Through offering rewards and punishments they create an environment where there are good and bad consequences to the followers behavior. Some might feel this is a very good way to lead, however, in most cases I would not agree with it. Kind of like the carrot on the stick. In some cases the employee finally receives the carrot or they get wacked with the stick. My problem with this style of leadership is that eventually an employee will always expect some type of reward of they will not perform. This is the problem with many children today. They won’t do their chores unless they receive a reward. It is better to create an environment where an employee wants to perform.

The next of the six leadership styles is the transformation leader. I kind of like the transformational leader however it is not my favorite style. The transformational leader is all about transforming or molding the environment into something better, or at least they believe they are. They work hard to motivate the employee to change their thinking to be more in line with the transformation leader. This takes a lot of work but in the end it can pay huge dividends. All leaders want their followers to think the same way they do; therefore, if they can present reasons for the followers to get on board it is a huge victory.

My personal favorite style of leadership is the situational leader. The situational leader does not fit everyone into the same mold. They do their best to understand each member of their team and lead them according to what motivates each one of them. This also takes work but is well worth it. More than that it helps you to fully understand what makes your followers tick. Why do they do what they do? You must get to know them as individuals and then use that knowledge to lead them to be the best they can be. So a situational leader uses many of the other styles of leadership but does not lock into any specific one of them.

The last of the six leadership styles we will address in this article is the laissez-faire style. The laissez-faire style of leadership is the leader that delegates almost everything to their followers yet offers little to no directions. In my opinion this leadership style is horrible and is a formula for disaster. In most cases this leader is not confident and is depending on their followers to carry them along. The person that uses this style will soon fail. Steer clear of this style of leadership. Keep in mind that all leaders will delegate but when delegating the leader must define what they are looking for without removing the creativity of the follower. Remember you can delegate a task but not responsibility. That is why this style of leadership fails.

Thank you and May God bless you!

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