There is a popular saying that states, “heavy is the head that wears the crown”. This phrase aptly describes the weight of responsibility business owners face daily. Many people want to be leaders, but they do not realize that it is more than titles and perks; it comes with the heavy task of making decisions that can make or break a company. It also entails effectively managing a workplace that continues to be diverse, made up of individuals from different backgrounds and with different motivations and finding the right influencer to motive them to creativity and productivity.
Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes. Although some may argue that there is an inherently wrong way to manage employees, unfortunately, there’s no prescribed right way to manage employees. Instead, the way you lead a team first depends on your individual strengths, the goals of your organization, and the disposition and competencies of your team members. What is your style? Below are some common leadership styles:
- Directive Leadership: Directive leadership is hierarchical and values consistency, control, and predictability above all else, and goals are achieved using coercion and dominance. As you might imagine, in many situations, these managers create a toxic workplace. They closely monitor employees’ actions and use rewards and punishments to motivate them and drive results.
- Transformational Leadership: Transformational leaders inspire their staff to communicate and collaborate by creating a natural environment to motivate them by discussing the team’s shared vision and setting clear goals. These types of leaders are often seen as authentic, self-aware and empathetic. In addition, they handle conflict among team members well and hold both themselves and their team members accountable.
- Servant Leadership: Servant leaders work hard to meet the needs of their team. The servant leader unites their team through a common cause, by trusting team members, and by actively listening to their team members’ ideas and struggles.
- Democratic Leadership: Democratic leaders the objective of building commitment and consensus across a team so they include their team members in the decision-making process. While they are ultimately responsible for making final decisions, they often ask team members what they think and try to take their thoughts and opinions into account.
- Laissez-Faire Leadership: Laissez-Fair leaders give their employees a lot of freedom in how they do their work, and how they set their deadlines. They provide support with resources and advice if needed, but otherwise, they don't get involved.
Being an effective leader is not easy. While it’s human nature to want to be liked by one’s peers, that cannot always be a motivating factor for a leader. Sometimes a leader who strives to be well-liked will tend to be more employee-focused and may not enforce the rules as needed or may play favorites. This type of leader will most likely create a warm, supportive, friendly climate for the team. At the same time, the well-liked leader may not be seen as an authority figure by subordinates. They may also have lower performance ratings by a leader’s supervisor because their leadership style would not lend to a productive environment. Conversely, a leader who is only job-centered may receive praises from upper management if they are able to be not only meet but exceed the set goals and streamline processes. However, this environment can also lead to higher rates of grievances filed by employees and other indicators of dissatisfaction, such as absenteeism and turnover.
There isn’t just one right way to be a great leader. What works for one individual or team may not work for another. You can choose and develop a leadership style that works for you, your team and your business goals. The most effective leaders will be the ones who are flexible, have strong communications skills and high emotional intelligence.