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Leadership & Communication

What type of leader are you?

29 Jul 2013, by Informa Insights

Communicating with Influence and Professional PresenceBeing a leader isn’t easy, and everyone brings their own qualities and attributes to the role in an effort to get the best out of their colleagues.

However, there are several distinct leadership styles – all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages in the workplace.

Do you recognise yourself in this list? And what methods would you prefer to use to make yourself a better leader?

The dictatorship

If you use this style, otherwise known as autocratic leadership, then you make it known that you’re the boss and will be making all the decisions.

Employees follow your orders to the letter and may have little input or influence on how things work on a day-to-day basis.

Autocratic leaders are often very task-oriented, focusing largely on getting the job done. They are prone to assigning work and roles specifically to personnel, while carrying out much of the structural planning, organisation and monitoring themselves.

Ruling with an iron fist does have its benefits; jobs are likely to get completed quickly, without some of the delays caused by democratic discussion; your ideas should be implemented to your exact instructions; and you have greater control.

However, the downsides include higher staff turnover and absenteeism – as autocratic leaders often spare little thought to the wellbeing of staff.

This approach is also likely to harbour resentment in employees, who are unlikely to go the extra mile for a boss they may think is a bit of a tyrant.

Democratic leadership

At the other end of the scale is the democratic leadership, with bosses encouraging input and suggestions from workers.

While democratic leaders often make the final decision, they are more collaborative in their approach and try to make employees feel they have a vested interest in potential business outcomes.

This increases job satisfaction among team members and enables others to develop their own leadership skills when putting forward ideas.

All sounds perfect, right? Well, there are downsides, as anyone that lives in a country with a democratic government may know.

One disadvantage is that the process can be a lot slower, as everyone’s voice must be heard, questions must be answered and objections considered.

Also, employees may resent the fact that they are providing a lot of the ideas, but you may be getting much of the credit as team leader when they prove successful.

Plus, as you have the final say on all decisions anyway, the notion of a democratic leadership may not be as democratic as your workers may think!

Laissez-faire leadership

Often used in economics, this French term roughly translates in English to “let it be”.

As a leadership style, it refers to a very hands-off approach, which allows colleagues to essentially get on with their own work with very little direction or man-management.

Forcing employees to set their own performance levels can help you to see who in your team is the most adept and self-starting, while giving people the confidence to try problem-solving without the safety net of your leadership.

This is often a technique best used with highly experienced teams who are skilled at setting their own schedules, as they will not only appreciate the freedom of the role but can also pick up a lot of the slack that you may normally have to deal with.

However, laissez-faire leadership can seem to your superiors like you lack control over your team, or – even worse – that you can’t be bothered dealing with issues yourself.

This can be particularly disastrous with new or inexperienced staff members who may need constant monitoring while they get to grips with the job.

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