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6 Different Leadership Styles, and When to Use Them

I’m not much of a golfer, but I know how to choose my club, depending on the shot. There’s a calculation every golfer must make and every club doesn’t work for every shot.

Leadership is similar to selecting your club; choose the wrong one, and you’ll miss your target.

To be a truly great leader, I don’t believe you need to stick to one leadership style in every encounter with your team.

Certain situations call for certain behaviors. Identifying and appropriately adjusting to those situations makes for exceptional leadership.

Take a look at six leadership styles, as well as brief descriptions of where and when you should use them.

1. Democratic Leader

A Democratic leader invites a community of giving input, asking questions and sharing ideas.

Collaboration and teamwork are the more important aspects of a democratic team. This is because team members feel involved in the decision-making process and that management values and hears their opinion.

Using a democratic leadership style is best when getting team members to buy-in to or own a new decision, goal, target, strategy, etc.

It’s recommended not to use this style for emergency situations or when your team needs a decision in a short period.

Regardless of its collaborative nature, final decision-making still rests with the leader.

Democratic leaders must be patient, open and willing to concede that their ideas are not always the best.

2. Authoritative Leader

An authoritative leader sets the team on a path to realizing a goal by giving instruction and guidance for achieving a target, yet the means of accomplishment are left up to the individual.

Authoritative leadership is best during times of change when a new vision or mission is needed when the business is taking a turn and needs all hands on deck.

It inspires creativity and entrepreneurial spirit when specific instruction is not needed.

3. Servant Leader

The natural inclination of a servant leader is to serve others first, to benefit the whole.

They focus on the growth and wellbeing of others, as well as enabling them to become their best selves in whatever capacity that is.

Servant leaders take an all-encompassing perspective on their employee’s lives, beyond just the workplace, including setting up opportunities for personal development and growth outside of the workplace.

They are extremely humble and think in terms of “you” and “we,” rather than “me” and “I.”

Servant leadership is best for empowering team members with greater trust and autonomy, by understanding what they need to success, then facilitating those results.

4. Affiliative Leader

Affiliative leaders create emotional bonds between team members and managers. They seek to create deeper ties among the team, beyond the surface-level business facade.

Needless to say, there is a high focus on building trust and relationships.

Affiliative leadership is best used when employees are dealing with stress or crises. Especially after a big upset, where it’s important for team members to work together and be on each other’s side.

As it has a particular focus on praise and nurturing, affiliative leadership is not appropriate for everyday or extended periods of time, as it can quickly lead to sub-par performance and lack of individual initiative

5. Transformational Leader

Transformational leaders are in essence coaches, focused on a high-level of communication.

Visibility and access are core means for coaching and guiding the employee. Managers are highly involved and do not “take a backseat” to employee performance.

Transformational leaders focus on the bigger pictures by developing a strong team for the future. They are committed to building lasting strengths for team members.

Transformational leadership is best used to train another employee who you know will work for your company for many years to come.

Imparting your knowledge and values on a team member will ensure your legacy lives on.

6. Transactional Leader

Transactional leadership relies on rewards and punishments to assess performance.

The manager and team member set goals together. Then, the team member follows guidelines and direction from manager to achieve those goals.

Transactional leaders are responsible for reviewing employee results. They then offer training when employees don’t meet goals or could perform goals more effectively.

Rewards include bonuses, raises or additional incentives.

Implement transactional leadership when there is a new process or system. You can also implement it when the employee is highly inexperienced and needs guidance and direction.

Transactional leadership is not effective for team members who are highly skilled or experts in their field.

I Can Help!

You can learn more about leadership and teamwork in my book, “Seven Figure Firm: How to Build a Financial Services Business that Grows Itself.”

You can even download a FREE chapter. I recommend “Building a Team: Learn the tips and tools she uses in hiring the right staff to create leverage in your practice.” This chapter will help you learn more about my experience in leadership.

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6 Different Leadership Styles, and When to Use Them
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Certain situations call for certain behaviors; identifying and appropriately adjusting to those situations makes for exceptional leadership. Take a look at six leadership styles, as well as brief descriptions of where and when you should use them.
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