You may have already heard the saying, “A company is only as good as its people.”

There is more to this saying, however. This is because even if a company has the best of the best in the industry, hiring exceptional employees isn’t enough.

The company may still fail to provide anything worthwhile to the world unless it has a strong leader. The leader also needs to provide a clear direction to all of the employees. Otherwise, there’s having even the best employees will not get the desired results for the business.

Business experts also agree that how well an organization works is directly linked to its leadership. It doesn’t matter whether the company is trying to secure a quick round of funding from a bank or trying to strategize mergers and acquisitions. The point is, the leaders must be decisive for everybody else to collectively head in the right direction. This is the only way that the company can efficiently achieve its objectives.

Leadership styles may greatly differ, and the leaders themselves can greatly differ based on their approaches.

Different styles of leadership can inspire their teams into action in different ways. This is also why certain organizations are more successful and productive as compared to others.

If you are a leader or aspire to be one, this is also why identifying your leadership style is important. When you do, you’ll be able to use the best aspects of different leadership styles and grow as a leader.

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There is no authoritative list that everyone follows in terms of leadership styles. However, there are various lists circulating on the Internet or mentioned in management textbooks. For example, Goleman, Boyatzis, and Mckee's book “Primal Leadership” outlines quite a useful list of six leadership styles.

Here are the six leadership styles according to the book:

Directive or Commanding

Authoritarians, or the stereotypical “big bosses,” fall under the directive or commanding leadership style.

To them, the leader is the only one who has the authority to make decisions, and the members are expected to obey his or her commands without question. Regardless of whether or not they truly understand the objective or agree with it, each member just needs to follow the boss.

This type of leader causes employees to operate in fear, which leads to a toxic work environment. Although this can lead to high levels of productivity, it is not emotionally sustainable. This can then lead to high turnover rates.

Many business and leadership experts disapprove of this type of leadership. However, you should note that this type of leadership will be useful in certain circumstances.

One example is emergencies where swift decision-making is critical and too many voices can lead to confusion.

It’s also good to note that this leadership style is still the standard in several cultures as well as almost every military force in the world.

Visionary

The visionary leadership style is used by leaders who have a long-term and concrete vision of where the organization needs to go. They then use it to guide their members. Every individual in an organization under this leadership style knows where they are going and is motivated by the knowledge that even the seemingly most mundane tasks contribute to a larger goal.

Visionary leadership may boost productivity, but only when the leaders can communicate their vision clearly. This means that the message has to be understood even down to the lowest rungs.

There is a cause for concern, however: The refinement of details along the road. Leaders and members may become so focused on the big picture that they overlook the small steps that are necessary to achieve the vision.

Affiliative

Affiliative leadership focuses on maintaining group cohesion and harmony. The objective of the leader is to build strong ties with members in order to foster mutual trust and communication.

This means that members are comfortable around their leader, whom they regard as both a friend and a colleague.

Anyone can work efficiently in a workplace that is free from fear and panic. Employees tend to love working with a leader who listens.

When severe and sensitive issues need to be resolved, however, taking a bold approach in an organization under an affiliative leadership style can be detrimental. This is because emotions might take over. They may keep the leader from confronting members when they are needed.

Democratic/Participative

As the term implies, democratic leadership means that there is a leader who really takes into account everyone's opinions and concerns. Members are able to provide their opinions, which the leader openly listened to, before reaching a final decision.

Members who work for a democratic leader feel respected and heard, which motivates them to be productive. However, if members have poor judgment, then the leader faces a risk of making bad decisions. Furthermore, this may not work during instances where quick decisions need to be made, as polling each member will be counterproductive and just plain inefficient.

Pacesetting

A pacesetting leader is usually a high performer. He or she then expects his or her followers to follow suit. The leader wishes for everyone to follow in his or her footsteps and also produce outstanding outcomes.

One good situation where the pacesetting style will be well-suited is if the company must complete a task by a specific deadline.

However, like directed leadership, regular use of this leadership style would be unsustainable in the long run. This is because it leads to more burnouts and high turnover.

Coaching

A leader who is also a coach focuses on his or her members' long-term progress by assisting them. The goal is to further develop their talents and skills.

Coaching leaders are devoted to guiding and challenging their colleagues so they can achieve continuous progress. They're thought of as mentors who can provide excellent advice and feedback.

This type of leadership promotes a healthy work atmosphere in which employees are encouraged and inspired to learn from their bosses. However, because coaching costs so much time and energy, it can be counterproductive to educate slow learners. This becomes even a worse idea when there are individuals who are actually unqualified for their position.

Strictly following just one leadership style will not work in all circumstances, however.

Remember: a good leader must be able to adjust to changing circumstances. Also, none are fundamentally better than the others as they work well for specific situations. For example, while pacesetting and directive leadership styles are often seen as bad, they can nonetheless yield many benefits for the short term.

Aside from changing goals and unforeseen challenges, many other factors can alter a person's primary leadership style. These are:

  • National Culture: There have been cross-cultural studies on leadership styles that have been conducted all over the world. Norway and Sweden, for example, have democratic leaders that serve as facilitators in lengthy dialogues with their constituents. China and Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, favor directive leadership, in which the team or organization's leaders are the exclusive decision-makers.
  • Industry: Companies in creative fields like marketing or advertising are more likely to have democratic and affiliative leaders, whereas companies that rely heavily on sales are more likely to have pacesetters.
  • Self: This pertains to a person's personality and values, which are shaped by a variety of other factors. These include one’s upbringing, individual experiences, education, such as a specialized degree in strategic communication, and so on. Simply put, these important factors determine one’s leadership style.
  • Members: When deciding what leadership style to use, a leader should take into account the personalities of the members of the team and organization. Some people don't mind following directions from a commanding leader, while others want their input to be taken into consideration when decisions are being made.

Increasing and maintaining an organization's productivity can be challenging. This is why leaders need to adapt their leadership styles and use even those that are outside of their comfort zones.

It may take a long time for you to figure out the best combination of leadership styles for your company. However, keep in mind that there is no singular leadership formula, so keep trying until you reach success!

Authored by Rumzz Bajwa

Rumzz is a digital strategist and content marketer. She enjoys spending time with her family. She loves to go out and experience new moments whenever they come to light. Rumzz discovers satisfaction in investigating new subjects that help to extend her points of view. You can frequently locate her immersed in a good book or out searching for a new experience.

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