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Define Your Own Leadership Style

Originally published: 02.01.17 by Pete Grasso

Depending on where you look, you’ll find anywhere from two to six — or even 12 — different types of leadership styles. It can certainly be overwhelming for someone who’s suddenly been thrust into a leadership role and is trying to do the best they can for the people for whom they are now responsible.

Learning to lead is an ongoing process — it’s why there are countless articles on the subject. Everyone who has ever been in a leadership role, or strives to be in a leadership role, wants to learn about how to be the best they can be.

Two leadership styles that fall on opposite ends of the spectrum are Disruptive and Transformational. You’ll often see these two styles compared and contrasted over and over again as you do research into the type of leader you want to be.

Disruptive Leaders (also referred to as Autocratic Leaders) have a top-down, authoritarian approach that is often deliberately divisive. Their focus is to destabilize, often doing so without a defined vision for the way forward.

Transformational Leaders are intentionally inclusive and invite ideas and opinions from others. Their focus is to reinvent, with defined, stretch goals that are achievable.

Disruptive Leadership is often a last resort approach, when you’re willing to gamble the business and the workforce to achieve results. Conversely, Transformational Leadership is applied when innovation and improvement is both desired and necessary.

If you look at the vast difference between those two leadership styles and try to figure out how to apply either to yourself and your business, I won’t fault you if you’re left scratching your head.

The truth is, most of us fall somewhere in between — which is why there are so many more approaches on the leadership spectrum. Here are nine more leadership styles:

Democratic. The democratic leader holds final responsibility, but he or she is known to delegate authority to other people, who determine work projects.

Strategic. The strategic leader fills the gap between the need for new possibility and the need for practicality by providing a prescriptive set of habits.

Team. Team leadership is about working with the hearts and minds of all those involved.

Facilitative. Effective facilitative leadership involves monitoring of group dynamics, offering process suggestions and interventions to help the group stay on track.

Laissez-faire. Laissez-faire leadership gives authority to employees and has been consistently found to be the least satisfying and least effective management style.

Transactional. This style maintains or continues the status quo, and involves an exchange process whereby followers get immediate, tangible rewards for carrying out the leader’s orders.

Coaching. A coaching leader is highly operational in setting where results and performance require improvement.

Charismatic. The charismatic leader manifests his or her revolutionary power and actually involves a transformation of followers’ values and beliefs.

Visionary. This form of leadership involves leaders who recognize that the methods, steps and processes of leadership are all obtained with and through people.

Wanting to know more about how to be a good leader is a good trait to have, because it shows you truly want that role. People tend to respond positively to those who readily accept leadership roles.

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Some are soft-spoken and knowledgeable, some have bombastic personalities while others are kind and reserved.

So, the problem with learning how to be a leader is when you try too hard to fit yourself into one of these different types of leadership styles.

There is no single, end-all, be-all right way to lead.

Just as each of us is different, so are our individual leadership styles — and what’s right for one person might not necessarily be right for another. In fact, the best leadership style for you is more likely a mix of two or more different styles — and it might also depend on the people who count on you to lead them.

Think about some of the leaders you look up to — do they always fit into one single category? Or do they borrow from multiple leadership styles, depending on the situation and the people they inspire?

This is what makes them great leaders. When trying to define your own leadership style, it’s important to not only lead in a way that makes you comfortable, but your employees as well.


About Pete Grasso

Pete is the former editor of HVACR Business magazine. He has spent his career working in and with trade media, both as a public relations practitioner and as an editor. He gained a great deal of expertise in the B2B arena, within large and medium sized advertising agencies. Be sure to follow Pete on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn!


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