What’s your leadership style?

Whether you’re leading a business, a small team or just dreaming of a future in management, the ability to adapt your leadership style according to your objectives and situation is invaluable.  A first step is to recognise the effectiveness of different leadership styles, so with this in mind, ABE's head of marketing, Linda Wilkin, has summarised below some of the most recognised types of leader.

Leadership styles are covered in the ABE Edge course Leading People & Leadership Styles – just one of several management-based courses free to all ABE members. 

The autocrat

The autocrat has absolute authority and does not expect their decision or instructions to be questioned or challenged.

This style of leadership can work well when quick decisions are needed and staff are inexperienced, but it is generally considered dated. It doesn’t develop staff, encourage new ideas or utilise the different skills that make up a team.  Talented and creative people are likely to leave if this type of leadership is sustained, so it is a style to be used sparingly when the occasion demands.

The charismatic leader

The charismatic leader usually appears highly confident. They have the personality and self-belief to inspire people to follow them and get things done.  This style of leadership works well in times of difficulty when the trust and support of staff is crucial but it can mean that different views and opinions don’t get heard.   

The coaching leader

This style of leadership involves teaching and supervising staff with a goal of continuous improvement in much the same way as a sports coach.  The coaching leader can be very effective as they encourage a team to work together to achieve great results.  They set clear goals and quickly identify weaknesses.  But it does require time and a high level of commitment on the part of the leader so it can be hard to sustain over an extended time period.

The facilitative leader

The facilitative leader creates a shared goal and decisions are made by their entire team together.  The strength of this approach is that it enables employees to feel part of the bigger picture and work together to achieve corporate objectives.  The drawback is that it can make the decision-making process slower and more difficult when there are multiple opinions to consider.

The laissez-faire leader

Typically, the laissez-faire leader is hands-off.  They do not directly supervise their team and allow them to work autonomously making their own decisions.

This leadership style works well with highly experienced and trained employees requiring little supervision.  But it is not appropriate for team members who need development or support.   The effective laissez-faire leader needs to ensure they remain approachable, hold regular performance reviews and clearly communicate corporate goals.

The participative leader

This can also be called the democratic leadership style.  It invites input from team members but responsibility for making final decisions rests with the leader.

This style of leadership is recognised as being good for employee morale because everyone makes a contribution to decisions and staff feel their opinions are valued.  It supports creativity and helps staff grow and develop whilst ensuring the leader remains in control of decisions.

The transactional leader

The transactional leadership style emphasises results providing rewards or penalties based on predetermined goals.

The advantage of this leadership style is that it clearly maps expectations and encourages staff to work productively towards company targets.  An effective transactional leader needs to articulate desired outcomes clearly and provide constructive feedback.  Giving staff the opportunity to be creative and think about longer-term goals, as well as short-term targets, should also be considered.

The transformational leader

Transformational leaders motivate employees to enhance productivity and efficiency through a high level of communication and visibility.  These leaders focus on the big picture creating the vision for positive change and allowing their team the space to think of new ways to support organisational goals.

This style of leadership supports organisational change and growth with a strong team to back up their vision.  It requires the ability to clearly communicate objectives and inspire others.

The visionary leader

Visionary leadership is about creating a unified vision of the organisation's potential future and a plan to achieve it with a realistic assessment of the risks and opportunities. This type of leadership is used when organisations need to change or transform. To be effective the visionary leader needs to ensure their ideas are achievable with short terms gains recognised and celebrated so staff can see the progress being made towards the longer-term vision.

Here's this information as an infographic:

Leadership infographic