Understanding and Developing an Effective Leadership Style

Young, female Asian leader presenting during business meeting

Leaders come from all different races, ethnicities, genders, perspectives, experiences, and walks of life. Whether you’ve been in a leadership role for a long time now, or looking to step into a leadership role, now is the time to understand the type of leader you’d like to be and develop an effective leadership style.

Understanding Different Types of Leaders

The first step in developing an effective leadership style is understanding the various types of leadership styles. Here is an overview of 10 of the most common leadership styles across today’s industries.

  1. Democratic. Much like a democracy, a democratic leadership style encompasses the leader making the final decision based on the input of the team.
  2. Autocratic. Opposite of democratic leadership, autocratic leadership is where the leader makes decisions based on own discretion absent input from the team.
  3. Laissez-Faire. Literally translated to “let them do,” laissez-faire leadership gives employees the authority.
  4. Strategic. Like it sounds, strategic leadership focuses on strategic thinking, oftentimes bridging the gap between executive interests and employee advocacy.
  5. Transformational. Transformational leadership takes a transformative approach, looking to improve current company infrastructures.
  6. Transactional, Pacesetter. This type of leadership style is a merits-based system, where leaders reward employees for successfully completing assigned work.
  7. Coach. Much like a sports coach, this leadership style takes a mentorship-like role focusing on identifying and nurturing individual strengths of each team member.
  8. Bureaucratic. Kind of an “old school,” “by the book” approach, bureaucratic leaders oftentimes reject ideas that conflict with company policies and best practices.
  9. Servant. Servant leaders put people first, emphasizing employee satisfaction and team collaboration.
  10. Visionary. Visionary leaders advocate progress and change by fostering strong organizational and employee bonds.

Assessing What Type of Leader You Are

To determine which leadership style you’d like to implement, you should ask yourself some important questions, such as:

  • Am I more interested in goals? Or relationships?
  • How much structure do I want to implement?
  • Do I prefer making important decisions based off my own personal judgment, or as a team?
  • Which takes priority, short-term or long-term goals?
  • When I’m looking to motivate myself and others, do I draw from empowerment or direction?
  • How do I define “team”?

Once you’ve answered these important questions, you may have a better idea of what type of leader you are or would like to become.

Developing an Effective Leadership Style

Not all leadership styles are effective for every industry. For example, a laissez-faire leadership style may work well for a young, start-up technology business, whereas it may not be ideal for a larger corporation. To help develop your leadership style, consider the following:

  • Trial and Error. Experiment different approaches in a wide variety of scenarios and analyze the outcome. If one approach seems to be ineffective for a particular scenario, you do not need to discard the approach altogether, rather try a different approach for that particular scenario. Trial and error are the best way to determine which approaches are most effective.
  • Reach out to a leader whose style you admire. Learning from them can provide invaluable insight into developing a similar approach and learning the ins and outs of what works best.
  • Seek Feedback. Like most things in life, change is inevitable. While it may be difficult to hear, seeking constructive feedback can help mold you into an even better leader.
  • Embrace Authenticity. The best leaders embrace authenticity. If you’re developing a leadership style that isn’t aligned to your personal values, you will likely come off as an inauthentic leader. Align your leadership style with your strengths and build off of that.

From understanding personalities to developing leadership training, Human Capital can help you foster great leaders and maintain your business’s successes. Whether you’re interested in DISC and Myers-Briggs assessments or would like to re-evaluate your performance review process, Human Capital’s human resources specialists can assist you! We can offer you access to a full suite of HR services, tools, and resources with the support of industry experts. Contact us today!


Harvard Business Review

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