by Kevin Abdulrahman, author of “The Book On Winning The Game Of Life“
There are a number of different leadership styles that entrepreneurs employ successfully, and by understanding some of the more useful styles, you can become a better leader and a better business person. However, there are certain styles that can be utilized to work better than others.
Some leadership styles are obviously unsuited to entrepreneurs or businesses that have a creative component. The autocratic leadership style for instance is fairly common in some industries. This style of leadership means that the leader has a great deal of control, and the workers little to none. It is a more traditional style of leadership which often breeds resentment in workers, and isn’t really appropriate for today’s changing workplace.
But there are a number of leadership styles that are important for entrepreneurs to understand. They are styles that can help you inspire the people who work with and under you, and help you get the best from your team. Overreliance on one leadership style is not recommended, instead you should pick and choose which style you use for specific situations. Understanding the different styles gives you tools to improve your own practices as a leader, and new ways to guide your business.
Could a tool that helps you get the best from your team and your workers help your business? Which leadership style fits with your business and your personality?
Charismatic leadership occurs when a team is led by a leader who is fascinating and drives the team forward with the power of their vision. You can see positive examples of this with people like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. These two men inspired their followers because of the compelling power of their personalities and their visions.
Charismatic leaders are defined by their excellent communication skills, commanding personalities and high emotional intelligence. They are usually able to connect with people on a deep, emotional level almost instinctively, and use this to encourage others to share their vision and change the world.
There can be a dark side to this type of leadership as well. In everyday circumstances, if a business or company is run by a charismatic leader it may fall apart when they leave. Without the polarizing influence, the team may lose the vision that drove them. In rarer and more dangerous circumstances, charismatic leaders can create cults and other types of destructive groups.
To use this style in a positive sense in your business, you can start with the following steps:
- Create a clear vision for your work.
- Learn about the people around you.
- Work on your public speaking skills through study and practice.
This type of leader focuses on completing tasks above everything else. It can be a highly autocratic leadership style, where the leader makes all the decisions and holds all the power. They will usually set up very efficient systems for this process, so they can organize and monitor the work that’s being done.
In the short term, this leadership style can be highly effective if there is urgent work that must get finished. But in the long term, it will usually make employees or teammates feel undervalued because their well-being is not taken into consideration.
To use this style in your business, you can try the following ideas:
- Use this style only in the short term, when you have a deadline coming up.
- Set up a system to organize, control and monitor the work.
- Measure the progress of the project.
People-oriented leadership is generally thought of as the opposite of task-based leadership. With this style, the leader is focused on the people. Their goal is to support and develop the team, and they usually welcome opinions and participation from every worker. This type of leadership can be highly effective and result in very collaborative and creative work.
There is one important disadvantage to this style. Because of the focus on the people rather than the project, there is always the danger of work and goals going uncompleted. The leader must always work to balance the needs of the people with the needs of the business to avoid this danger. After all, the team won’t be happy for long if the leader’s focus on their happiness makes the business fail.
To use this leadership style, start with the following steps:
- Develop a clear vision for what you want with your business and its team.
- Focus on building relationships with your team.
- Encourage team members to approach you with questions or concerns.
With servant leadership a team or business is led by someone who is not formally recognized as the leader. Instead, they may become the leader as their skills and ideas naturally push them forward. A leader may also deliberately choose to take this leadership role, and put the people and their needs ahead of their own. These types of leaders usually don’t receive extra compensation or accolades as they do the work for the good of the group and the project, rather than for themselves.
This leadership style has some advantages. Because of the uncontrolled group structure, it does tend to be more democratic than other styles. However, people who use this style will often find themselves overshadowed by people who use more assertive leadership styles.
To try this style as a leader, start with the following steps:
- Focus on the good of the team and the project.
- Concentrate on listening to the team and their individual needs.
- Teach others to lead and give them the power to do so.
This leadership style can be fairly good, or very bad. When using this style, the leader lets team members get on with their work with very little control. Because of lack of guidance, this style can only be used when teams are very self-motivated and experienced. For it to work, the leader still needs to monitor the work being done and adjust to any problems.
If a leader tries to use the Laissez-faire leadership style with an inexperienced or lazy team, the end result is obvious. The work won’t get done. In fact, this leadership style is often called one of the worst for overall productivity, even though it does work in some situations.
To start using this leadership style with your team, try the following steps:
- Allow your team to make their own decisions.
- Encourage your team to problem solve on their own.
- Provide any tools the team needs to complete their goals.
This leadership style is very like the political systems in some western countries. It is based on the idea that everyone should have their opinion considered before important decisions are made. The leader makes the decision in the end, but not before consulting the team. This leadership style makes for very happy teams when it’s done well as it allows everyone to feel like an important part of the business.
Using this leadership style is not quite as simple as having group meetings to make decisions. Your team needs to be empowered to make the decision, to have their skills and abilities developed to meet their responsibilities. It is usually a leadership style that takes a long time to set up. But it also gives better results than a lot of other styles over the long term.
Obviously, this leadership style can’t work in every business. Enormous businesses, which have a low retention rate, would make it impossible for the leader to consult every worker before making important decisions. However, for smaller businesses, with teams who are very involved in the day to day running of the business, this style would work well.
If you want to lead using this style, start with the following guidelines:
- Welcome and seek out input from every team member when making decision.
- Help your team to develop through education and training.
- Focus on building relationships of trust with your team, so they all know they’re part of the business and its success.
Transformational leadership is almost a blend of a couple of different leadership styles. In this situation, the leader is highly communicative with their team, with a clear vision and purpose. They also tend to delegate to trusted team members, which encourages trust and co-creation.
People who use this style of leadership tend to fit well within a variety of industries because they have several essential skills. This can include conflict resolution, inspiration, and morale boosting, while still getting work completed at the same time. This style of leadership also focuses on improving systems by identifying old methods and systems that no longer serve the business and updating them.
People who use this leadership style often don’t do well in bureaucratic systems where efficiency is less important than tradition. However, outside of these companies and systems, they can inspire loyal teams and excellent work.
To use this leadership style, follow the following steps:
- Lead by example.
- Develop your emotional intelligence and use empathy to connect with your team.
- Maximize efficiency by upgrading old ways of doing things.
The number one thing you should take away from this.
No one leadership style is right for every situation. Great leaders show a mix of styles at different times and in response to different situations. But the leadership styles are not meant to be used as a rigid set of rules. Instead they are a tool that leaders can use to improve their business and leadership practices. Using the different leadership styles in this way will help you to work out the best ways to inspire your team and work together towards your collective goals.
Kevin Abdulrahman is a world authority in personal development, a motivational speaker, the author of books on business and life strategies, a public speaking coach, and a world renowned expert in business and life success. An expert in business development and strategist, Kevin works with Fortune 500 organizations, leading government agencies, and forward thinking companies. He designs work strategies, workshops and conferences that push them to make changes based on the ideas of fast growth and proven techniques for business success.