Think about the leaders in your life, past and present. What is their leadership style? Do they ebb and flow, shift through different styles or do they operate from a single style?
As a middle manager, understanding your leadership style can be a powerful tool for developing your team and driving success in your organisation. While there are many different leadership styles, it’s important to consider which style works best for your team, your company culture and the specific challenges you’re facing.
Here are six different leadership styles, along with some ideas on how to determine which type of leader you are:
- Democratic Leader: A democratic leader values input from team members and encourages collaboration. This style of leadership works well in environments where creativity, innovation, and problem-solving are critical. To determine if you are a democratic leader, consider how often you solicit feedback from your team, how you respond to dissenting opinions, and whether you prioritise inclusivity and diversity in decision-making.
- Autocratic Leader: An autocratic leader makes decisions unilaterally and expects employees to follow their directives without question. This style of leadership can be effective in crisis situations where swift action is required, but it can also be demoralising for team members who feel their input is not valued. To determine if you are an autocratic leader, consider whether you tend to make decisions independently, whether you delegate tasks effectively, and whether you value conformity over creativity.
- Strategic Leader: A strategic leader thinks long-term and works to align their team’s efforts with the overall goals of the organisation. This style of leadership is especially effective in complex, rapidly-changing environments where adaptability and agility are critical. To determine if you are a strategic leader, consider whether you have a clear vision for your team, whether you communicate that vision effectively, and whether you encourage your team to take calculated risks.
- Transformational Leader: A transformational leader inspires their team to reach for new heights and pursue ambitious goals. This style of leadership works well in environments where employees are highly motivated and committed to their work. To determine if you are a transformational leader, consider whether you set high standards for your team, whether you lead by example, and whether you foster a sense of shared purpose among your team members.
- Transactional Leader: A transactional leader rewards employees for meeting specific goals and punishes them for failing to do so. This style of leadership works well in environments where tasks are highly structured and routine. To determine if you are a transactional leader, consider whether you regularly provide clear performance metrics, whether you hold employees accountable for meeting those metrics, and whether you adjust rewards and punishments based on performance.
- Bureaucratic Leader: A bureaucratic leader follows established rules and procedures and expects their team to do the same. This style of leadership works well in highly regulated environments where compliance is critical. To determine if you are a bureaucratic leader, consider whether you prioritise following rules and procedures over innovation and creativity, whether you consistently enforce policies, and whether you make decisions based on hierarchy rather than merit.
In practice, most leaders will use a combination of different leadership styles depending on the situation. For example, a democratic leader might use an autocratic style in a crisis situation, while a transformational leader might shift to a transactional style when specific performance goals need to be met.
As a middle manager, it’s important to be adaptable and responsive to the needs of your team, the task at hand and the organisation. By understanding your leadership style and how it aligns with the specific challenges you’re facing, you can make more informed decisions and lead your team to success.
What style do you predominately operate from?
What other styles of leadership are you aware of, I’d love to know your thoughts.