Imagine this: you’re working on a big project with a tight deadline. A member of your team breaks the news: the project has derailed. What’s your next step?
- Do you jump in to save the day?
- Do you tell people what to do to fix the issue?
- Or do you assess how everyone is feeling first?
Your answer might help identify your very own built-in approach to leading others. Here are the six most common leadership styles and why changing things up could help you get the most out of your team.
Do you find yourself keeping tabs on deliverables every step of the way, dishing out hard deadlines to motivate fast results? This style can work well when your team has targets to hit — but if you’re too hard on your employees, this can backfire. Keep your team happy by showing that you trust them. Try asking for ideas and giving them a chance to manage their own workload. They will become more invested in the work they do and more driven to hit those deadlines when the time comes.
This autocratic leadership style has been all but phased out of the corporate world. If you’re this type of leader, you expect your team to drop everything and do as you say. When you say “jump”, they say “how high.” This approach can destroy team morale and make you unlikeable. In terms of productivity, studies reveal that teams work better when they are motivated by a likeable boss.
The visionary leader is one that has big dreams for the business, and leads by inspiring the team with their positive outlook. This management style is a great motivator, but has its drawbacks. Visionary leaders are more ‘big picture’ and less about the details, so employees who are self-starters will thrive under this form of management. This approach won’t work with employees who aren’t detail oriented themselves, however. If your team needs direction, or lack the experience to manage complex situations without hand-holding, it may be time to change your leadership style.
The democratic leader
If you like consulting every team member in the decision-making process, you may be this type of leader. Consensus is key for you, but this approach won’t necessarily work in every scenario, for example, if you have inexperienced team members who may not know the bigger picture of the impact their decision may have.
The affiliative leader
This is your leadership style if your priority is nurturing your team members to be the best they can be. While this approach may make you very likeable to the team, it could be counterproductive. Studies show that constructive criticism and (achievable) challenges are essential for productivity.
If you’re a coach, you like working closely with your star players to help them achieve top results. Coaching works best when an employee truly wants to learn. It’s a brilliant way to motivate your team, but if you need quick results, it may be best to focus on getting the job done.
See also: Styles of business leadership
Whatever your management style, the important thing is to know what your strengths are and which skills need to develop. Try out this flowchart to help you identify what type of leader you are.