Do you know what your leadership styles are?
There are 12, and most leaders naturally utilise up to 3 of those. Many dip into the other 9 as and when needed, but the majority of their time will be spent operating within their 3 dominant styles.
As self-awareness and reflection are imperative for great leadership, here we’ll be outlining all 12 styles to help you figure out which approaches may be dominant for you as a leader in your organisation.
1. Coaching Leadership
This is an ever-positive leadership style that focusses on recognising employee’s strengths, weaknesses and motivations to aid continuous improvement and growth.
A coaching leader is supportive but also challenging; not afraid to set stretching goals but also offering regular feedback and guidance through one-to-one support. Leaders that utilise this style will set clear goals and expectations while upholding a positive and motivating environment.
While the initial stages of implementing a coaching approach can be time-consuming (and, if the employee is closed to the idea of evolving or learning, progress can be slow), most workplaces thrive under this kind of leadership.
Employees know what’s expected of them, they’re continually encouraged to grow and learn (which bolsters skillsets) and their weaknesses are often turned into strengths- all good for the bottom line.
This supportive environment also provides a competitive advantage; your staff will be poised and ready to handle change as they’re not stagnating in their roles. The focus will also be on long-term strategic thinking, rather than short-term corrections.
Coaching-based leadership works well in less hierarchical organisations which are becoming more and more popular with modern workers. People don’t want to receive barked orders from above. They want collaboration and space for creativity and change.
In coaching-led workplaces you’ll find:
- Consistent, possibly 360, feedback is being provided to all (including management.)
- Consistent, effective communication between leaders and teams.
- Employees are tasked with projects that fit their skill sets and are credited for their success.
- Leaders share the “big picture” reasoning and goals behind individual projects.
- Micromanagement is a thing of the past.
- Empathy and awareness of individuals are front and centre, along with collaboration, support and guidance.
- Employee development (both professional and personal) is actively encouraged and facilitated.
”New staff members are joining businesses with a different work ethic than decades ago. They want to be empowered, they want to grow and develop, and they want to feel like they are making a real difference in work and in the world. With this in mind, the Gallup research* suggests that the Coaching Leadership style is becoming increasingly more valuable and appreciated in helping teams and individuals to grow and to maximize their potential and output.Luke ToddMadeYou Co-Founder
2. Cultural Leadership
In an increasingly international and multicultural workspace, cultural leaders are vital. They understand the differences and similarities between demographics and have the knowledge and skills to bring them together to create collaboration and successful teams.
There are two types of cultural leaders:
Local leaders have a natural understanding of their local culture as well as the training to become global leaders.
Expat leaders are often highly educated multilinguists who either come from or have lived and worked in different countries and who are willing to relocate for work.
Regardless of where cultural leaders are from, they need certain characteristics to be able to bring diverse groups of professionals together.
They must be able to:
- Understand the importance of building trust, cultural understanding and acceptance.
- Identify similarities and differences in cultural norms.
- Predict areas that may lead to misconception and/or miscommunication.
- Utilise a deep understanding of all the cultures involved to be able to handle any conflict that may arise.
- See cultural differences as an opportunity for development.
- Align and motivate people from multiple cultures to work together.
- Maintain an open-minded and flexible approach with persistence and patience an absolute must.
Cultural leadership can also be about simply leading a workforce under a united set of values to promote certain behaviours. You can read more about the importance of a strong sense of culture in the workplace here.
Great cultural leadership results in engaged, productive employees who work in a healthy and less stressful environment. Creativity and innovation are often boosted along with the company’s bottom line.
”The world is changing and with remote/hybrid working and companies developing more international intent there is a stronger need for cultural leadership, the ability to flex the way you lead and manage depending on the cultures you are working with and help others to adapt and understand each other better for great collaboration.Luke ToddMadeYou Co-Founder
These leaders make sure their employees feel listened to and included in decision making. While democratic leaders may be ultimately responsible for the choices made, their team feels empowered to provide their thoughts and opinions.
The democratic approach can be used consistently or at certain junctures where the leader may not feel 100% confident in deciding which route to take.
The result is a team that feels heard and aligned with their leader and creativity and new ideas are encouraged- great for innovation.
4. Strategic Leadership
Strategic leaders form an over-arching vision for a company to ensure it remains competitive in the modern marketplace. This vision is then used to motivate and focus employees, providing a unified sense of purpose and direction.
Strategic leaders often make use of incentive programs to encourage employees to work with them in pursuit of their goals. Their focus is often on streamlining processes, boosting productivity and cultivating a culture of innovation.
5. Visionary Leadership
This style takes strategic leadership one step further. These leaders are constantly looking into the future. They want their company to not only be fit for purpose now, but also in the future.
With a focus on tracking industry trends and the needs of customers, visionary leaders value innovation and creativity in their quest to service the needs of their future customers as well as today’s.
This style is based less on identifiable actions and more on a leader’s ‘people skills’ such as communication, persuasiveness and charm. Charismatic leaders naturally connect with people on a deeper level and use their skills to subtly influence teams. They are often called upon by companies facing a crisis or who are currently stagnated and struggling to move forward.
Transformational leaders promote constant improvement in their teams. Usually self-aware and empathetic, these leaders are often described as deeply authentic. They handle conflict confidently and hold both their teams and themselves to account.
7. Autocratic Leadership
This approach may be the less popular of the bunch. This is the ‘old school’ style of “do as I say and don’t ask questions”. Authoritarian in style, autocratic leaders hold full control over all decisions with little to no input from their reports.
9. Laissez-Faire Leadership
This French phrase translates as “allow to do” and is used to describe a leadership style that promotes freedom for employees. This is the opposite of micromanagement. These leaders are there for their team in terms of support and resources while trusting them to make good choices, to do their work and manage their time as they see fit.
10. Transactional Leadership
Transactional leaders use reward and punishment to promote compliance in their teams. Work is heavily supervised and organised, with a result-driven approach. Employees are motivated to achieve certain goals through a rewards system (usually in the form of monetary bonuses) and are reprimanded for deviation from the plan or for not achieving their goals.
This is the opposite of the autocratic style. Completely non-authoritative, this style encourages all employees to give their two cents, the goal being to encourage buy-in from teams by allowing them to have a say in the decisions that affect them. Facilitative leadership aims to encourage and inspire rather than to control and instruct.
12. Team Leadership
Traditionally, this suggests a singular leader aligning a group of people to work towards a common goal, but it can also mean a group of people working together and making decisions as a unit. The latter requires a hugely democratic approach and has its own positives and negatives but can actually be applied in more scenarios than you might think.
So there you have it; 12 leadership styles that you could potentially identify with. As we said, most leaders gravitate towards a dominant top 3 with the others at their disposal when needed.
Which ones stood out to you as falling within your natural skillset and which ones do you think you could do with utilising a little more often?