Great leaders earn the respect of their employees, and managers oftentimes just want to be popular with their staff. You will also find that successful leaders are transparent with their information, while managers often dole it out as if it were a reward. Successful leaders also take personal responsibility when things go wrong, instead of blaming the team. In the end, a great leader will care more about the results than the minutiae of the processes.
There are many attributes that make a great leader. Great leaders are aware of how to get people to follow them to achieve success as a team or individually. Top leaders possess similar traits and behaviours, such as enthusiasm, honesty and a list of goals, to name a few. Although, just because you have these traits or behaviours does not mean that you will automatically make it to the top.
A great leader needs to be flexible in their leadership approach; to make use of multiple leadership styles. An effective leader should be able change their leadership style to best suit the situation. Here are 6 essential styles that should be employed by leaders when the need arises.
The pacesetting leader shows through example. To sum up this style, it would be "Do as I do, now". This works most effectively when the team is already switched-on and highly trained, and the leader needs quick results. If you use this exclusively, however, this style can be overwhelming and discourage innovation.
The coercive leader is after immediate compliance. Their motto is "Do what I tell you". This style is most effective in times of crisis, such as in a company turnaround or a takeover attempt, or during an actual emergency like a tornado or a fire. This style can also help control a problem employee when other methods have been unsuccessful. The huge downside is that it can alienate people and stifle initiative and creativity.
The coaching leader is focussed on developing people for the future. You could call this style "Try this". The coaching style works best when the leader wants to help their team build lasting personal strengths that make them more successful for now and for the future. It works less well when teammates are resistant to change, or if the leader lacks proficiency.
The authoritative leader is effective at directing the team toward a common vision and focuses on end goals, leaving the way they get there up to each individual. This style could be summed up in the phrase "Come with me". This method works best when the team needs a new vision because circumstances have changed, or when explicit guidance is not required. Authoritative leaders inspire an entrepreneurial spirit and bring enthusiasm for the mission. It is not the best style when the leader is working with a team of experts who are more knowledgeable than them.
The democratic leader relies on group consensus to reach a solution. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be "What do you think?". The democratic style is most effective when the leader needs the team contribute to a decision, plan, or goal, or if they are uncertain and need fresh ideas from qualified colleagues. In an emergency situation, when time is of the essence for another reason or when teammates are not informed enough to offer sufficient guidance to the leader, another style would be wiser.
The affiliative leader works to create emotional ties that bring a feeling of bonding and belonging to the company. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be "People come first". This works best in times of stress, when teammates need to heal from a trauma, or needs to rebuild trust. Steer away from using this style exclusively, as a sole reliance on praise and nurturing can foster mediocre performance and a lack of direction.