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What Are The Different Leadership Styles And How Can I Apply Them To My Business?

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These days, analysing our management and leadership styles should be top priority. In the midst of the great resignation, poor leadership is often cited as one of the top reasons employees feel despondent and tired of their role.

Frankly, in many companies management training is often out of style. We can all claim to be guilty of promoting rising stars into management positions, without equipping them with the necessary training required to manage people.

This often means some of our best team members who excel at their role can suddenly find themselves overwhelmed. The very idea of organising and motivating a team is completely different to the previous role they have excelled in.

When it comes to management training, one of the first things we can study to improve ourselves is the varying leadership styles.

Below we’ve collated a bit of information about the 7 primary leadership styles, so why not have a peruse and see which category you fit into?

Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership can be summarised as making decisions without input from your team and expecting them to follow. It’s a commanding approach that may seem like a poor choice of leadership style in most modern organisations, but there are situations where this type of leadership is essential.

For example, in a situation where a teams safety is dependant on strong, decisive and quick decision making.

This type of leadership can also be very efficient, as decision-making does not get delayed by multiple layers of bureaucracy and debate. It can also help to make roles clear-cut and responsibilities of different team members clear.

However, autocratic leadership isn’t ideal for organisations where creativity is imperative. A lack of input from all layers of the organisation can make it a difficult environment for new and innovative ideas to be heard.

Leaders who use this style may also feel a lot of pressure. They can often feel like the entirety of responsibility within the company lies with them.

And of course, it’s also very rare that a company will find itself in a situation where all of their team members are happy to follow instructions and decisions in such a clear cut manner. You may stifle the potential of your team, and also put them in a situation where up-and-coming leaders have very little decision making experience.

Authoritative Leadership

Authoritative leaders are quite dissimilar to autocratic leaders. They will make decisions and explain to their team why those decisions were made, and will allow those around them to choose their own path towards a common goal.

This can be a great leadership style within organisations who have innovative and aspirational business goals. You’ll often see this style of leadership in emerging tech companies for example, where leaders often rely on the expertise and ingenuity of their workers to achieve an aim in a creative way.

For this reason, this leadership style is also often called Visionary Leadership.

Authoritative leaders often inspire and motivate their team to help them to achieve a combined purpose. Their skills lie in being able to confidently create a clear vision.

This leadership style is ideal for companies who need to motivate their teams, inspire creativity and encourage collaboration.

Although it sounds like an ideal leadership structure, if a company has not experienced this style of management before, it may actually be somewhat disruptive. Team members who are used to a clear job role may be intimidated by the idea of being given too much free reign, and can often hold this type of leader up to high standards that must be met in order to inspire confidence.

Pacesetting Leadership

If your business wants to focus on performance and meeting goals, a pacesetting leadership style is appropriate. Leaders who use this style will set a high level of attainment for themselves and focus on ensuring their teams meet set targets. 

Unfortunately, having a set goal that needs to be achieved and offers little adaptability can lead to both leaders and team members becoming stressed in some situations. That’s why it’s imperative that leaders who use this style focus on creating SMART goals, to ensure they are achievable and not unrealistic. 

The advantages of pacesetting leadership are given away by it’s name… this style often helps teams stay ahead of the competition and set the pace when it comes to achieving things quickly and effectively. This is ideal for businesses who work to product launch deadlines.

Democratic Leadership

A democratic leadership style has a goal in mind, but allows team members to decide together how they are going to achieve it. Having a part in the decision making process can be highly empowering for team members, so this is an ideal leadership style within businesses who want their staff to engage highly and feel loyalty towards the business culture. 

The democratic leader will collate the suggestions and input from their team, and make a final decision using that information about how to take the strategy forward. This can create a strong feeling of trust in leaders, and a personal and emotional connection towards achieving the business goals.

However, if a team is made up of a lot of potentially conflicting viewpoints, this leadership style can sometime only slow down decision making and cause conflict. It can be extremely difficult for a leader to truly hear everyone equally, and those who feel their ideas are rejected can sometimes harbour resentment, leading to poor business relationships.

Coaching Leadership

A coaching leader will tap into and grow the potential of everyone within their team by analysing their strengths and weaknesses. They will nurture each team member’s talents and help them to improve in areas where they are weaker, leading to an overall stronger and more efficient team. The coaching leader will guide their team through obstacles using their experience and wisdom.

Subsequently, this leadership style relies on managers having a significant amount of experience to draw from. They need to have superior communication and development skills in order to get the most out of their teams and must be able to tactfully navigate giving constructive criticism.

This style can give team members a strong sense of direction, as their personal development is clearly mapped out before them. It also helps to ensure every individual is nurtured rather than leaning towards a tendency to exacerbate and neglect team weaknesses.

However, this is a time-commitment heavy leadership style, and depends on managers spending most of their time ‘managing’ rather than performing other duties. 

Affiliative Leadership

Also known as collaborative leadership, affiliative leadership is a great style for managers in your company who are great relationship builders. Through this style they will utilise their communication skills and rapport to encourage agreement and build strong collaboration opportunities across the company.

This can be ideal for established businesses who are struggling with long-cemented communication issues between teams and departments. In this respect, bringing in an affiliative leader to manage change can be transformational.

Employees who are feeling neglected and unheard can start to rebuild confidence and become more positive under a collaborative leader, but it doesn’t always suit every team members style. Some people simply have personalities that don’t thrive under close personal working relationships. If an affiliative leader is not careful, they can also inadvertently nurture a culture of favouritism with those who they naturally gel with.

Laissez-Faire Leadership

Seen as the opposite leadership style to autocratic, Laissez-Faire leaders are hands-off and quite the opposite of micro-managers. They trust their team members to use their own initiative to reach goals and do their job without much interference. This can be ideal in workplaces where team members are highly-skilled and high-level, as this type of worker will often suffer productivity issues where there is too much input from a management level.

A laissez-faire leaders simply facilitates their team with resources, tools, and whatever else they need to get the job done. It can create a culture of trust within the team, and can lower stress levels. 

Of course, this style doesn’t work for teams where productivity levels are already low and attainment is not high. The lack of clear leadership can also lead to a competitive culture where team members seek to fill that position. 


Are you interested in training your future leaders? We offer apprenticeships in Leadership and Management that are ideal for on-the-job learning without a loss in productivity. Get in touch today on 01244 678100 for more information.


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