Leadership can either help or hinder the forward movement of an individual or an organization. However, in order to understand the success or failures of leadership that are all around us, we must remember that leaders are people, and people have differing styles of leadership.
Three Types of Leaders
Generally, leaders fall into three main categories—autocratic, free-rein or democratic. While the wording may differ for the three types of leadership mentioned here, you will often have some of the key behavioral traits still present in all types of leadership. A key point to remember is that leaders rarely fit into just one of these categories and this actually strengthens their ability to lead. As leaders seek after productivity and effective relationships with their followers, determining the best leadership style will largely be dependent on the goals and values of the organization and the particular situation. While not exhaustive, lets take a look at three types of leadership styles that get results.
At times controversial due to the impact upon followers, an autocratic leader makes managerial decisions without consulting others. When you lead without giving others a voice, bad things can happen! Disengagement, lack of motivation and an overall negative impact on productivity. However, this style leadership is effective in emergency situations and when absolute followership is necessary. An example of this would be during a fire or other emergency situation. In sports, you often see coaches and managers of professional sports teams use this leadership style with their players.[bctt tweet=”Determining the best leadership style will largely be dependent on the goals and values of the organization and the particular situation” username=”JasonCarthen”]
Free-Rein or Laissez-Faire Leadership
On the opposite end of the spectrum from autocratic leadership, a free-rein leader may loosely set objectives, and then allow followers to freely do what is appropriate to meet those objectives. Granted, this leadership style can be problematic if followers are not motivated or self-directed. This style is often most effective when managing professionals such as doctors, engineers and professors.
In the middle of the leadership continuum is the democratic or participative leader. He or she works with followers to make decisions together while seeking after consensus when and if possible. Employees are given an opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process which often leads to increased job satisfaction.
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One Size Does Not Fit All
No one leadership style works best in all situations. It is important to know when to adopt the appropriate leadership style for the environment or situation that you are facing.
Understanding is Power
Before you engage your followers or before you seek to work with your colleagues or peers, it would be beneficial to know and have a better understanding of how your leadership style and preferences will guide the relationship. For that reason, consider the following questions:
What type of a leader are you?
Are you providing the best model for your followers?
How would your organization be if all leaders were like you?
In what ways can you adapt your leadership style?
At the end of the day, a successful leader in one setting may not be so successful in a different environment. Why? Because a key to successful leadership is the ability to adapt and then pivot to the most appropriate leadership style based upon the situation and followers.