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Leadership styles: What type of leader are you?

Put simply, a leadership style is a way of managing employees. As a leader, you’ll no doubt have asked yourself ‘what type of leader am I?’. Once you’ve found your style, you’ll have your answer.

In this blog post, we’ll explore ways of determining your leadership style, and identifying how different approaches could work for you.

We’ll identify the pros and cons of each style, and help to set you up for success in the workplace.

We’ll also tackle some of the other burning questions you’ll no doubt be asking – like whether you need to make all the decisions yourself, and whether you have the best control over your staff.

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Examples of Different Leadership Styles

There are many different types of leadership styles, and theories surrounding them continue to be developed. Here are four of the most common and useful.

Do you consider yourself a collaborative person?

Do you think the best approach to a job is to work together? Is it important to you that everyone has input on a decision?

If so, you could be a democratic leader...

Perhaps the best way to describe this style of leadership is “'free-flowing'”. Not only is it a very open and involving style where everyone gets a say, but it's also the ideal approach in ever-changing environments that demand flexibility.

You’ll encourage conversations and idea-sharing, and use these as a basis for decision making before bringing the group back together for a verdict. The democratic leader can get the best out of their team by drawing on their specific areas of expertise and experience.

However, as the approach involves the whole team, the decision-making process can be slow, and discussion can occasionally stray off-topic, especially in an environment so rich with ideas.

If this is your leadership style, get the most out of it by keeping the dialogue open between you and your team, respecting their input, and finding and committing to the best approach.

Do you find yourself quick to take charge?

Are you comfortable and confident in your abilities – so much so, that you’d rather make all the decisions on your own? Do you thrive on boundaries?

If so, you could be an autocratic leader...

Pretty much the opposite to the democratic leader, here you'll call the shots and make all the calls with little to no input from your team, instead drawing on your own beliefs, experiences, and perceived strengths.

The result is a consistent, streamlined approach with maximum control. It's a common approach in smaller businesses and those that need fast paced decision-making or are highly stressful.

This style can be seen as outdated as it doesn't afford much flexibility, and it offers little reward and motivation for your team. And because you're making decisions on behalf of others, the culpability is on you.

The autocratic leader thrives on taking responsibility though, and it can be an effective approach if your team is lacking in experience.

If this is your leadership style, set clear rules and methods in your workplace, and keep your teams small.

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Does untapped potential excite you?

Are you the type to put the needs of your team above your own? Are you driven by improvement and performance?

If so, you could be a transformational leader

This type of leader is a goal setter, giving their team targets that will unlock and develop potential.

Like the democratic style, this approach looks to others in the team to stimulate ideas, creativity, and collaboration but takes a progressive, forward-thinking approach by leading in a way that doesn't feel like managing.

Take care to encourage your team rather than allowing them to be too dependent on your leadership, and be sure to bring your own ideas to the table.

If this is your leadership style, get the most out of it by developing a strategy for your vision and breaking it down into small, manageable steps, and learn to recognise the needs, dreams, and even fears of your team, which you can use to the company’s advantage.

Do you want your team to think and learn for themselves?

Do you favour a laid-back approach in the workplace? Do you think accountability should rest on the whole team?

If so, you could be a laissez-faire leader

Also known as delegative leadership, this hands-off approach gives your team complete freedom when it comes to decision making, but accountability still lies with you, the leader.

While this type of leader will readily provide tools and resources, the team is expected to do the problem solving, which can lead to poor performance and results, as well as role confusion, if their expertise is not sufficient.

However, it can be a very effective style when employees are highly skilled and motivated, and are able to work well independently.

If this is your leadership style, be as present as possible and check in with your team for updates and to ensure deadlines are met. Build trust with employees, and work on defining each team member's role to get the best results.

Do you believe that tried and tested methods are the most effective?

Do you like to do things ''by the book''? Do you enjoy micro-managing?

If so, you could be a procedural leader

This type of leader has similarities to the authoritarian leader, directing and managing others, right down to their individual tasks.

With an eye on task completion, there can be a risk of appearing inflexible and resistant to change, but putting time into methodology, discipline, and perseverance can have big rewards.

Known for a detail-orientated approach that starts with defining a problem, solution, or opportunity, the procedural leader will first analyse, then seek to improve the situation while maintaining control throughout.

If this is your leadership style, then like the autocratic leader, you will benefit from giving your team clear rules and boundaries and encouraging discipline.

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How to Find out Your Style of Leadership

To find out how you rank when it comes to leadership and management styles, and discover what you could do better, you can take our quick quiz.

For inspiration on how to be a better leader, you can also check out our blog post listing examples of leadership skills that every manager should possess.

What Type of Leader Do you Want to be?

Now you’ve determined what sort of leader you are, you can look ahead to the leader you want to be in the future.

Ask yourself questions like, do you prefer to make decisions alone, or with the input of your team?

Do you believe accountability lies with the leader, or with the group?

Do you feel your team works best alone, or with support?

And what type of workplace do you have? Small or large, dynamic or structured?

These questions will help you find the leadership style that will work best for you, your team and your business.

In conclusion…

The best leaders have a deep understanding of their leadership style, as well as the other styles that are available. In fact, the best may draw on elements of different styles to create a unique approach to management, or they may start a project as one style, and switch to another as it gets underway.

Effective leaders recognise that adapting their style can benefit their employees and the wider workplace, and they’ll also be willing to learn about other approaches while understanding that no approach is perfect.

Great leaders also have close ties with their team, building trust between members and the leader themselves, and offer support when needed to reap the rewards.

At Successfactory, we can help you unlock the leader inside to motivate and develop your employees and build your business for success.

About the author

Graham Wilson

Graham Wilson

I enjoy and specialise in teaching leadership skills, how to create winning strategies, how to build high performance cultures. Outcomes and results are the most important measures for me!