Successful Leadership Style- 6 Types of Leader That Inspire Actions

Successful Leadership Style- 6 Types of Leader That Inspire Actions

Successful Leadership Style- 6 Types of Leader That Inspire Actions
 Successful Leadership Style- 6 Types of Leader That Inspire Actions

Steve Jobs was a visionary leader. He had a vision in developing Apple products to change the world. With his strong conviction, he made his entire team believe in his central principle — to change the world with innovative ideas. By some measure, he completely disrupted six entire industries.  Another leader, Dalai Lama, the leader of the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism, is a different type of great leader. Dalai Lama is an affiliative leader, which is different from Jobs, who regularly pushed his teams to their emotional and physical work limits. An affiliative leadership is based around gaining love and support. 
This enables Dalai Lama to successfully lead a lot of believers who believe in kindness to stand against the pressures of many others.  It’s important to understand what type of leader you are because it can make your leadership much more effective. When you begin to understand what you care about, how you make decisions, and why you do what you do, it presents a clearer path to legitimately achieving goals. The proper leadership style for a person maximizes their potential; attempting to square-peg or round-hole the wrong leadership style will not only bring the leader down, but the team as well. 

According to Goleman, Boyatzis and Mckee, there are six types of leadership styles. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Let’s good at each of in details:

1. Pace-setting Leader  

A pace-setting leader focuses on targets and the speed with which said targets are being achieved. They set performance standards and schedules for the team to achieve goals and get the best results.  Pace-setting leaders typically ensure the work is on schedule and reaches the goals quickly.  Yet the biggest drawback of pace-setting leadership is being too predictable. Many pace-setting leaders overwhelm team members with deadlines, and harm their creativity as they rush to finish their work.  
As a result, this style works best when employees are highly motivated and already competent workers. This is also good if a clear schedule needs to be set for a specific set of tasks.  In order to grow as a successful leader, pace-setters should ask for team members’ feedback often and give them space to work. Instead of focusing on deadlines, they should focus on the process of reaching quality work.

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, is a successful example of a pace-setter. Welch despised micro-managing and thought leaders needed to focus more on setting examples and deadlines. That’s the essence of a pace-setting leader.

2. Commanding Leader  

A commanding leader makes decisions alone and gives orders to members to achieve goals.  A commanding leader can make decisions quickly. They don’t need to go through any discussions to come up with a decision most of the time. This saves time and is helpful especially during a crisis. Commanding leaders are often respected and are rarely challenged by the team.  Unfortunately, commanding leaders often inhibit critical thinking and demoralize employees’ team spirit as their opinions are not valued under such leadership. 
Team members are there for execution; they do what they’re told, and only the commanding leader gets to drive a decision forward.  Commanding leaders work best when quick decisions are to be made in a crisis or situation with inexperienced team members. As a result, many famed generals and politicians operating in times of strife fall into this category 
.Winston Churchill is an example of a commanding leader. Churchill was especially known as a powerful orator and man overall, and often was able to inspire others to action simply via his commanding speeches and viewpoint.

3. Visionary Leader  

Visionary leaders are able to see the bigger picture and set the overall goals for the team.  This type of leader Inspires creativity and teamwork as team members are encouraged by the bigger end-goal of what they’re working on day-to-day. Jobs is one of the examples, but many tech company CEOs fit into this type too. Startup CEOs often frame product decisions around “saving the world”, and this is where the vision is found.  The flip side of believing you’re working on something which will change/save the world is that it may inspire fanatical belief in the leader himself. 
Another potential flaw is its heavily context-dependent, in another word, the goal at the end. With a constant focus on making the world a better place, team members can sometimes lose focus on their day-to-day plan they need to execute.  Visionary leaders are good in transition situations. Think about a new CEO coming in and immediately laying out the long-term vision for a place after the disgraced exit of his predecessor, the company and the employees benefit in this case.
A visionary leader, though, does need lieutenants who can take their vision and translate it into day-to-day work for the rest of the organization. If it’s all vision and strategy with no tie to day-to-day execution, employees will get confused and ultimately leave.  Steve Jobs built a company that completely changed multiple industries, and he did so by singularly looking at possibilities no one had ever considered. Imagine ten to twenty years before the first iPhone came out, if you had described that idea to your friend, they would probably have laughed you and thought you were a dreamer. 

4. Democratic Leader  

Democratic leaders make decisions together with the team members — regardless of rank — and closely work together with the team to achieve for the best results.  Democratic leadership is good for boosting team morale and improving relationships between leaders and members. An open environment encourages a constant stream of communication and idea exchange. For example, the idea of Gmail was brought to Google decision-makers by a lower-ranking staffer, as was the idea of AdWords. 
AdWords is a huge revenue driver for Google and it didn’t necessarily begin at the absolute top ranks, but the top ranks weren’t threatened when a new idea came about.  However, the authority of a democratic leader may be easily challenged and cause inefficiency in decision making. A collective decision-making process usually takes a longer time.  Democratic leaders work best when team members are experienced and have strong knowledge in their functional area. Inexperienced members may be confused under such leadership, or wondered why their voice was sought after despite their lack of experience.

John F. Kennedy was a successful democratic leader. When Kennedy handled the Bay of Pigs situation, he gave everyone in his circle a voice. The way he made decisions had changed decision-making for the modern era.

5. Affiliative Leader  

Affiliative leaders show warmth and acceptance to members and create emotional bonds with them.  Because of the warmness provided, members feel safe and have a strong sense of belonging to the organization and perform better. Google has done studies of effective managers and found the №1 thing they provide is “psychological safety.” Affiliative leaders do that.  Unfortunately, mediocre performances may be fostered under an affiliative leadership because it rarely puts team members under pressure. 
Some team members may feel they can coast on certain work because their managers will always support them.  This leadership style works best in stressful situations or when team members’ morale is low. Typically, it’s used best together with other leading styles.
The Dalai Lama brings people along with him and into a bigger picture of contentment and safety. 

6. Coaching Leader  

Coaching leaders are mentors to the more inexperienced team members. They help the members to better their capabilities and performances by constantly providing them feedback.  This creates a positive working environment where leaders and employees are constantly communicating. With the coaching leader’s guidance, team members grow and improve continuously.  
The downside of regular coaching is that it’s time-consuming. It also takes patience to coach each of the team members. In an organization that focuses on immediate results, coaching is not preferred because it takes time to see significant results.  Coaching leaders work best with inexperienced employees who are eager to learn and grow. A leader who is proficient in convincing and influencing others will execute coaching leadership well.  John Wooden, who won more NCAA basketball championships than any other coach, is a successful coaching leader. He had a very specific coaching model that focused on conveying information as opposed to course-correcting.

Be a Flexible Leader  

All these styles work well in specific situations, and oftentimes teams need a mix of the different leadership styles across different work teams and work projects.  For example, someone on a tight deadline typically might hate to have a commanding leader (too much pressure), might feel confused by a visionary leader (why is he/she talking about the big picture when I have this work due?), and might love an affiliative leader (who would support them).  
But in a bigger context, such as thinking about broader career steps, a visionary or coaching leader might be a better fit.  The most successful organizations often have a mix of these leadership styles for teams and deliverables. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. The important thing is to understand where you fall, what your achievements and drawbacks are, and how you can grow or most benefit your team by considering adapting a slightly different leadership style.

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Leon Ho is the founder and CEO of Lifehack.  
FYI: this article is originally appeared on my website.

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