There are many ways in which a person can lead – and some are more effective than others. What kind of leader are you, and what kind of leader did you dream you’d be?
When it comes to ‘kinds of leader’ it seems that everyone has their own definitions – and that there are varied accounts depicting these types, and even how many ‘types’ there are. We could wax lyrical on many dozens of methodologies, personality types and approaches to leadership – but we are creating an article, and not an encyclopaedia or epic novel, so we will stick to defining and clarifying five kinds of leader we meet time and again in our profession.
No matter where your organisation’s leaders fall within these definitions, our consultants and coaches are passionate about bringing innate skills to the fore, encouraging confidence and ambition, and enabling you to get the very best out of your people.
So what kinds of leaders have we met?
The Autocratic Leader
An Autocratic leader is one who rules with a rod of iron – who insists on absolute, infallible authority, and who will not look kindly on any who challenge their decisions, declarations and methodologies.
If a leader is, in fact, perfect, this is a situation which can’t be faulted – this perfect leader is smarter, more experienced, more worldly and wise than any of their employees, peers or predecessors, and every decision they make is the right one, and they glowingly guide their organisation to greatness.
In reality, that’s never quite how it works – and it can be more than a little challenging working for a leader who won’t listen to their team, won’t hear criticisms, and won’t heed advice.
Approaching leadership like a bull in a china shop isn’t the best way to encourage confidence, autonomy and innovation in your team – instead, an autocratic leader enjoys wielding their power over those they see as nothing more than subordinates, and throwing their weight around showing everyone who’s boss.
With world politics as it currently stands, we need not look too hard to find an example who so effectively embodies the definition of the Autocrat; Donald Trump, once a TV bad guy we loved to hate, is battling against the restraints of managing the United States Government, and seems regularly irritated that he isn’t allowed to wholly dictate how the country is run – a power he was accustomed to in his own business dealings.
The Democratic Leader
Opposing the all-powerful approach of the autocrat, the Democratic leader may head up the team, but communication flows in all directions, ideas are heard and discussed, criticism is taken as professional feedback on performance, and any decision or action taken is discussed by the workforce as a whole before progression.
No one is viewed as any more or less important than another – each person and team has a vital role in the overall success and efficiency of the organisation, and the democratic leader delegates the workload to best make use of the skills and experience each member of the team brings, to the benefit of the whole.
Key words that describe democratic leadership best are fairness, honesty, creativity and autonomy – and these leaders are very well respected, and trusted, by their workforce, who recognise the authority of their leaders without being subjugated.
The Facilitative Leader
Facilitation in this context means that the leader is there to guide the workforce through the process of their performance – to enable them to perform well as a team.
Rather than telling people what to do, or how to do it, a facilitative leader will support workers in making the best choices for themselves, to the benefit of the organisation, and may guide the decisions but won’t dictate.
This facilitation can take the form of suggestions, intervening if the workforce appears to be losing sight of their goal, and managing the dynamic of interaction in the team.
This is a great approach to leadership when the team is highly skilled and efficient – guiding the process in a way which allows action and leads to successful business processes – but when the team is less confident, or less skilled, it can require a very heavy-handed guiding process which can begin to look more like micro-management.
The Transactional Leader
This is a fairly basic approach to leadership; if you do X, I will give you Y. The leader offers a reward or incentive for performance, and the workforce work towards that goal.
Though there is absolutely a place for reward and incentive in the workplace, if the focus of the workplace is on this exchange, people can become disconnected, disenchanted and dissatisfied with their role over time – and many purely transactional working models – for example, sales companies where employees work purely on commission – see a very high turnover of staff, as people either fail to meet targets, and lose confidence or drive, or burn out from such a pressured environment.
Transactional leadership has a place as part of the whole, but perhaps not as a sole methodology; if your leaders offer ‘rewards’ that come with a guiding hand, support to engage in further learning and experience which better the employee and enrich their working experience, as well as a financial or physical incentive, and the feedback encompasses congratulations, education and guidance rather than a win or lose, it can be a terribly successful approach which allows the workforce to develop their skills and confidence alongside their experience in role.
Our final example is The Visionary; a leader who not only sees bigger, better things – but who is able to achieve those goals, aiming for new levels of success and bringing their workforce along in the process.
A visionary recognises that success isn’t a one-man-show, and relies on, rewards and appreciates the people who support that process. For a true visionary, the people who make up their team are the focus. Drawing the best from the combined skills and experience, seeing where further support and training can benefit the individual, and the whole, and celebrating every success.
Transformation is the key word for a visionary leader – transformation of those who work alongside them, of the team as a whole, and of the organisation as their dreams become realities.
At ASK, we know that we all dream of being a Visionary – and that it isn’t something which comes naturally to all – but we can work with your leaders, creating programmes which can coach, guide and support development in a way that brings out their very best.
Call today on 01234 757575 for more information, and let’s reach for the stars together.