5 Leadership styles and when to apply them

An effective leader motivates and guides employees, targeting their strengths and weaknesses so that both the employees and the organisation can succeed. The relationship between leadership styles and employees, therefore, plays a crucial role. Despite of this, surveys have shown that 75% of employees voluntarily leaving their positions leave because of their bosses, leading directly to issues of talent retention and churn.

Surprisingly, 36% of organisations don’t have a formal leadership development strategy — considering that to be a good and effective leader, one needs to be highly adaptable. Depending on a project, the environment, and even the psychology of the employee involved, leaders may find themselves switching between leadership styles quite frequently.

It all starts with a solid knowledge of the five major leadership styles.

Facilitative leadership

Facilitative leadership is a people-centric leadership style that puts the work process and company culture first, ideal for creative and high-pressure environments.

A facilitative leader works to build trusting relationships between leaders and employees in order to achieve their mutual goals. Facilitative leaders learn as much as they can about their employees and how they work, give clear expectations of their employees, and encourage them as they achieve these goals. Facilitative leaders are positive and motivational.

Ideally, employees should feel that they are valued and that their work matters; they should feel as though they are being listened to and that they know what to expect.

Facilitative leadership is often used best within creative and skill-based industries, in which a more rigorous or structured type of leadership style could lead to roadblocks and stress. Facilitative leadership puts people first and thus ties very strongly into people-first company cultures. It is best used when employees are already invested in producing the best work that they can for the organisation.
 

Laissez-faire leadership

Laissez-faire leadership is a hands-off leadership style that puts all members of the team in control, ideal for exceptional employees and self-motivated teams.

In a laissez-faire leadership, a leader provides very little guidance to their team. Instead, they trust that their team understands their own roles and will be able to perform their best. Statistically, laissez-faire leadership is often considered to be the least productive type of leadership — but this is usually when it is improperly applied. When applied correctly, laissez-faire leadership actually reduces much of the red tape surrounding organisational administration and can produce very rapid and effective results.

A tightly connected team full of self-starters may thrive under laissez-faire leadership. All individuals need to be personally motivated and highly competent. Laissez-faire leadership is best used when each individual member has an expertise and skill set that the leader themselves may not necessarily grasp. In this situation, over-managing employees could become more disruptive than helpful.

 

Coaching leadership

Coaching leadership creates a give-and-take atmosphere that puts a heavy emphasis on two-way communication, ideal for developing long-term and stable communication.

Sports teams are an excellent example of how a well-balanced coaching leadership style is put into effect. In a coaching leadership, the leader sets out clear goals and responsibilities for their team. However, the leader also listens to their team and provides constant communication. Leaders will provide feedback regarding an employee’s role and accomplishments and will listen to any concerns that employee has. This fosters a very strong employee-and-leader relationship, which is more likely to yield stable and consistent results.

When competent and capable employees don’t seem to be giving their job the attention that’s needed, a coaching leadership can be used to delve into their psychology and to inspire and motivate. Coaching leaderships drill down to any potential issues within a team and inspire the team to work together. They are best used to develop long-term team structures and goals.

 

Authoritative leadership

Authoritative leadership is essentially a dictatorship that puts the leader in complete control, ideal for undisciplined or high-stakes environments.

Authoritative leadership is one of the least preferred by employees, but nevertheless, it can become necessary in a variety of situations. In authoritative leadership, a leader makes all the decisions and rarely considers the opinions of team members. Team members may rebel against this type of leadership style unless they feel that the consequences of rebellion outweigh the benefits. All the team’s goals, initiatives, and strategies will be developed solely by the team leader, with very little input. The psychology of authoritative leadership can be a bit rough, with employees feeling devalued and ignored.

Though it may sound like a bleak atmosphere, authoritative leadership can become necessary when there has been a complete breakdown in structure. During times of transition or crisis, an authoritative leadership style may be necessary to make rapid-fire decisions and to keep a team together. Authoritative leadership is generally not intended for long-term use but instead as a short-term tool.

 

Democratic leadership

Democratic leadership is a type of leadership that puts an emphasis on the free exchange of ideas, ideal for most balanced working environments.

This is one of the most versatile types of leadership style. In a democratic leadership, team members are consulted regarding major decisions and projects. Communication consistently occurs between leaders and team members, and input from every individual is considered valuable.

Many teams have a tendency to default to some form of democratic leadership policy. However, it isn’t without its flaws: a democratic leadership process does take longer, and projects and teams can be stalled by a weak link.

Democratic leadership works best in strong, homogenous teams of accomplished and competent individuals. This is a solid ‘default’ leadership style, though it is particularly useful when time is not at a premium. It may need to be abandoned in times of crisis or looming deadlines.

 

All about the balance

There is no one leadership style that is going to carry you through all the teams, projects, and environments that you will encounter. Instead, the ability to effortlessly switch between these leadership styles as necessary is what makes for an effective leader. A business with satisfied and motivated employees will be able to retain the best talent and experience limited churn.

But merely knowing about these leadership styles is not enough: you also need to be trained in them. Contact TEC today to get started.