leadership style

A look at the different types of leadership styles and how they affect teams

Two important aspects of group collaboration —especially in the business environment—are teamwork and leadership. Regardless of where you are on the corporate pecking order, you will work in a team and at some point, may be called upon to lead as well. Your soft skills – such as communication, interpersonal relationship management, empathy, and so on – will be the foundation for success as a member and as a leader. 

Whether you work under, with, or lead other employees, you need to have confidence in yourself and inspire the trust of others – for this, soft skills are critical. That said, nothing affects the working of a team more than the person at the top. A tight-knit and collaborative team is a reflection of the excellent leadership skills of its head. Whether good or bad – the culture, the mood, the style of a group – all flow from the top. 

So let’s delve deeper into different leadership styles to understand how they affect the team as a whole.

Leadership is a process by which one can direct, guide, and influence the behaviour and work of others towards the accomplishment of specific goals in a given situation. The leader needs to be an inspiring role model and a team player, as well. The leader of any group can turn its members into a well-knit team by sharing visions, goals, and strategies with them. Leadership is the capacity to frame plans that will succeed. Leadership is a quality that makes people look up to him/ her, feel motivated, and give reverence.

Whether or not there is a “natural leader,” born with a combination of talents and traits that enable a person to lead others, has been a subject of debate across time. But if we had to compile a list of what a good leader must do, then it would look something like this:

  • Draft a compelling vision
  • Communicate passionately
  • Get cooperation from others
  • Inspire and pull team members towards goals.
  • Provide direction and momentum
  • Get Feedback
  • Does some self- evaluation as well

Styles of Leadership

Leadership Style Characteristics
Autocratic Imposes own decision with/without explanation with other team members
Participative Decision is made after prior consultation with the other team members
Democratic Joint decision is arrived at
Laissez Faire Decisions are taken by delegation

We can see types of leaders in action and draw on common experience, for example, a heart surgeon does not involve everyone democratically, is typically appointed to the role through earned degrees and experience, and resembles a military sergeant more than a politician. The autocratic leader is self-directed and often establishes norms and conduct for the group. 

Contrasting the autocrat is the laissez-faire, or “live and let live” leader. They have earned their role through time, effort, and experience and know their job. A wise laissez-faire leader recognizes this aspect of working with professionals and may choose to focus efforts on providing the professors with the tools they need to make a positive impact. 

Not all leaders are autocrats or laissez-faire leaders. Three leadership styles characterize the modern business or organization and reflect our current economy. We are not born leaders but may become them if the context or environment requires our skill set. A leader-as-technician role often occurs when we have skills that others do not. If one can fix the copy machine at the office, then one’s leadership and ability to get it running again are prized and sought-after skills.

The leader-as-conductor involves a central role of bringing people together for a common goal. A leader who conducts may set a vision and create benchmarks, and collaborate with a group as they interpret a fixed script. The leader-as-conductor keeps the time and tempo of the group.

Coaches are often discussed in business-related books as models of leadership for a good reason. A leader-as-coach combines many talents and skills, serving as a teacher, motivator, and keeper of the goals of the group. A coach may be autocratic at times, give pointed direction without taking input from the group, and stand on the sidelines while the players do what they’ve been trained to do. 

Coaches are teachers, motivators, and keepers of the goals of the group. They conduct the group with a sense of timing and tempo, and at times, they relax and let the members demonstrate their talents. 

What type of leadership style do you follow? 

A self- assessment needs to be carried out by a leader to find out which style of leadership to adopt as the principal one. A few questions below need to be addressed for such a self- assessment.

Do I Tend to…

  • Think ‘I’ or ‘we’?
  • Be concerned with things or with people?
  • Drive team members or coach them?
  • Say ‘go’ or ‘let’s go’?
  • Take credit or give credit?
  • Instil fear or enthusiasm?
  • See today or look at tomorrow?
  • Let the team member know how the job has to be done or show them how to do the job?
  • Depend on authority or goodwill?
  • Work hard to produce results myself or work hard to help team members produce results?
  • Let members know where I stand and where they stand?
  • Fix blame for breakdowns or show how to fix them?
  • ‘Use members or to ‘develop’ them?

Thus by understanding the style of leadership, we can be better forerunners and also have better clarity on one’s thoughts to communicate effectively.

Leadership is a quality that every employee of any profession should develop, as sooner or later, they will be called upon to put it in practice. No one style is good or bad – some situations demand a more autocratic style of leadership, such as in the military, and some are more conducive to practicing collaboration. How a leader conducts him/herself is what determines the effectiveness of the team – the style comes second. For example, a military general who is fair, gives feedback, and takes care of his men is deemed an excellent leader and leads a happy, high-performing team. But if a corporate manager in a collaborative environment encourages politics, plays favourites or is passive-aggressive, then he/she will have an unhappy team under him/her. Ultimately, the person behind the style is the one responsible for building a high-performing team! 

From leadership training to team building to soft skills development  – at SoaringEagles, we offer a range of corporate training sessions that can be leveraged to bring enhanced efficiency, productivity, and happiness in your organisations. Do get in touch to find out how we can customise our offers for your needs.