“A good leader is…”
If I were to ask you, how would you finish this sentence?
There’s no right or wrong answers here.
If you’ve led or are currently leading a team of 5, 10, or 50 people, you know how complicated the role can be.
We can all agree that leadership is a fluid practice. There’s no playbook for being a good leader because it depends on:
- The working environment you’re in
- The people you work with
- Your natural leadership style
But there are some non-negotiable qualities that a good leader possesses. They communicate effectively, empathize with others, always look to improve, and more.
There’s always a way to become a BETTER leader. That starts with knowing where you stand today.
Knowing what leadership style works best for you boosts your performance, allowing you to empower your team, which then boosts their performance!
I’m giving you the top 7 leadership styles (based on 15+ years of helping leaders grow), so you can figure out what kind of leader you are.
The Autocratic Leader
Autocratic leaders believe they know best. All decisions only come from themselves. They treat their teams as their employees who need to work and get things done. They typically don’t accept comments or suggestions from any team members, and generally view team members as “below” them.
For example, here’s how autocratic leaders think and act.
A CEO abruptly announces to the team that the working shifts will change. This is something you should discuss with your team, right?
An autocratic leader will decide on the spot, announce it to the team, and expect everybody to follow.
This approach is extremely outdated and ineffective most of the time. It creates a culture of mistrust and disloyalty.
But, there are certain situations where the autocratic leader thrives and does carry their team through in the best way possible.
- Last-minute, crucial decisions
- Situations where you know best (e.g., have the most knowledge among the team
Be careful in choosing this leadership style. Again, it only works best in specific scenarios. Being an autocratic leader (more often than not) demotivates your team and creates high employee turnover.
The Authoritative Leader
Authoritative leaders are also known as visionary leaders. Instead of telling their team to follow what’s been told, they use the “come with me” approach.
This approach allows them to:
- Point their team in the right direction
- Bring clarity to business goals
- Offer guidance, support, and feedback
This leadership style works best if your business is either facing a major struggle or undergoing a big change. That can be a decline in sales, a shift in team ownership, or a change in your company’s KPI scorecard.
Life is like a race. Same thing goes when you’re running a business.
That’s the pace-setter way of thinking. They set the bar high and push their team to move every bit as quickly as they do.
Pace-setting works best if you want fast results.
But gentle reminder here: Fast results are temporary. You want to be getting sustainable results.
More importantly, this leadership style can hurt your team. Even your most proactive, energetic team member will quickly reel towards burnout in this environment.
Burnout results in nothing but cons. Your team’s likely to be disengaged, have poor performance or make big mistakes.
Take it easy.
You can still use this leadership style in certain projects:
- Major launches
- Time-sensitive projects
- Projects that guarantee quick wins
A good pace-setting leader knows when to drive for fast results and when to take a pause.
The Democratic Leader
Democratic leadership is exactly what it sounds like – your team has the opportunity to speak up, participate, and suggest ideas before making a final decision.
This style is one of the best on the list.
- It fosters mutual trust and teamwork
- It allows your team to exercise authority, which empowers them to work on their own
- It helps everyone learn and grow to perform well
For example, being a democratic leader should give your team a chance to talk in a department meeting. Even if you make the final call, open the discussion and let the team voice out their thoughts. In short, no one is left behind.
Not all leaders are necessarily coaches. Many of them expect their team to do their best – especially if they’re made up of great hires.
But a coaching leader thinks differently. They see learning as a never-ending process. Even if their team members have been working in the industry for years, there’s always a new lesson to learn, and practice to improve.
For example, you can coach and train your team by:
- Assigning new tasks to improve their strengths
- Showing them their thinking and how it’s leading to their current results
- Setting up meetings to provide feedback and guidance
Overall, if you want to lead like a coach, you should put emphasis on growth and success of your team.
The Affiliative Leader
This is where you get up close and personal with your team. Whatever happens, you put your people first.
Being an affiliative leader can be challenging. It takes a lot of effort to harmonize a team made up of different people. Your team’s wellbeing is one of your top priorities too.
The catch is, this style is only useful in certain situations.
- It solves conflicts quickly
- It reassures your team when they’re feeling down or stressed
- It creates a sense of belonging and community for team members who feel alone in their job
But just a heads up – don’t take this too far. You can’t lead your team by solely relying on emotions. You can’t always allow your team to miss deadlines or take long breaks. These situations turn into a team performance issue in the long run.
The French term laissez-faire literally means “let them do.”
Hint: This style is about giving autonomy to your team.
Work policies are never about deadlines or work hours.
For example, you allow your team to work anytime as long as they meet the deadlines. As a laissez-faire leader, this doesn’t only give autonomy. You’re also able to put full trust in your team while they run the office like a well-oiled machine.
Again, too much can be dangerous. Some cons are:
- It can potentially limit their team growth opportunities
- Your team becomes complacent
- They may abuse your trust
Quick tip: It’s so important that this leadership style is kept in check. You can still give them autonomy, but don’t forget to put limitations.
What’s Your Leadership Style?
After reading the entire list, have you figured it out yet?
Knowing your leadership style can help you lead your team better. It affects how you lead your team, and how they work with each other to achieve ambitious business goals.
Frankly, you don’t have to stick to one leadership style. Feel free to mix and match! No one person ever fits inside one box. Find one style that relates to you the most. Just remember it doesn’t have to apply all the time.
Be that leader who adjusts their leadership style to whatever scenario they’re facing.
Now that you know what type of leader you are…what’s next?
What will it take to lead your team to 7 figures?