From authoritarian to democratic methods, you need to vary your leadership style to suit the circumstances of your company and employees.
Some of the thought leaders on leadership state you need 5 specific traits to be a good leader or that there are 5 ways to inspire your team, when what you really need to do is to vary your leadership style to the needs of your team.
If you have more than a few years of leadership experience, you know that your management style can impact the entire workplace. Accordingly, it’s good to foster a thorough understanding of how your management approach affects your employees, so you can vary your style to meet changing circumstances in your company.
Based on Daniel Goleman’s article “Leadership That Gets Results,” I have outlined each leadership style and when it should and should not be used.
The authoritarian leader’s motto is “Do as I say.” This method is also known as the visionary leadership style, wherein the manager sets a goal or vision and the team unquestioningly works to meet it.
Good to use when: Company circumstances have changed significantly and a new direction is necessary to succeed.
Bad to use when: In normal times, where authoritarian leadership can damage employee morale and significantly reduce job satisfaction and retention.
The democratic leader likes the participative approach that aims to solicit feedback from team members in order to build consensus. “What do you think?” is the question you hear from democratic leaders the most.
Good to use when: The team needs to buy into your decision, plan, or goal, or when you need fresh ideas from employees in order to create new solutions and perform better.
Bad to use when: Your employees are not informed enough to make good decisions. It’s also not recommended for organizational crisis situations, or for literal disasters like a tornado or hurricane. Use authoritarian leadership instead.
Transactional leaders use three main tactics to succeed—they set goals, distribute rewards to employees who achieve goals, and correct or train employees who fail to meet goals.
Good to use when: Employees need concrete rewards with a clearly-outlined structure that they can refer to. This boosts productivity and works to emphasize achievable goals.
Bad to use when: You need to encourage employee creativity, innovation, or autonomy.
The pacesetting leader’s motto is “Do as I do.” Much like the authoritarian leader, the pacesetter sets an example for the team to follow.
Good to use when: The team is proficient and adequately motivated and you need to boost productivity.
Bad to use when: You can’t count on the team to actually follow your lead, or if you want to encourage creative solutions to problems.
Much like the democratic approach, the affiliative leader is empathetic, emphasizes teamwork, and unites the organization through emotional connections and increased morale.
Good to use when: There are stressful times and employee relationships need to be nurtured.
Bad to use when: Things are going well. You should be warned that when empathy is not paired with constructive criticism, unequivocal support can lower productivity and lull people into a false sense of security.
A coaching leader uses one-on-one contact with employees to encourage growth.
Good to use when: You want to show you’re invested in your employees’ futures and your teammates are willing to learn.
Bad to use when: You have autonomous or experienced employees. Coaching can be perceived as micromanagement.
To lead your team to success, vary your leadership style
It’s impossible to use just one of these styles of leadership to effectively manage a team. To succeed, you’ll need to understand your team circumstances and how each leadership method impacts employee productivity, morale, innovation, and retention.
Some events call for a commanding method, while others necessitate careful consultation and trusting relationships with team members. Ultimately, it’s up to you to ensure that you cultivate the right leadership blend.
Image Credit: Rami Sedhom, Flickr
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