Business Leadership Styles

Management styles will undoubtedly vary, but is their a single recipe for success? Find out your leadership type and what it means for your team

Business Leadership Styles

Kicking off with an example of leadership styles: The football manager

Leaders may have any one of a number of so-called “leadership styles”. You can see them quite publicly, on the TV, in football managers, for example:

Some football managers may choose to dress in a suit, for instance, others in sportswear. Then, beside the obvious question of their attire, is their leadership style in action – Are they a quiet, contemplative manager who makes mental notes and then waits 45 minutes before directing their team at half-time or do they bark orders from the touchline, urgently shouting and waving their arms, furiously urging their squad on?

At the post-match interview we see the personalities of managers come to light again – Do they take defeat with humility, blame the referee or the other team or take it out on their own players? Does the winning manager act with an air of superiority or praise his opponents for a good challenge?

In football managers alone we see these very public displays of leadership styles and yet we still do not always know what goes on in the dressing room, the board room or the training ground.

Categorising leadership styles

In business, as in sport, there are a number of different leadership styles. We look at them in more detail for you to realise how you may already be managing your team…

The authoritarian leader

I’m in charge. You do what I say. These are the autocratic leaders whose style is one of command and control. They are usually very disciplined in themselves and disciplinarian when it comes to employees and manangement further down the chain of command.

These strict managers will often run a tight ship and anyone that steps out of line with the company policy is usually dealt with accordingly.

Communication is often a one-way affair with orders from the top trickling down the management structure and management decisions being referred to and made from the top.

The democratic leadership style

Whereas the authoritarian manager takes sole control, a leader with a democratic style is more open. Orders from the top are not always to be “obeyed without fail” but are more responsive to feedback.

The democratic leadership style allows the crowd to input its responses and future decisions are usually based more toward an appraisal of what the group wants as opposed to what the leader solely wants. that’s not to say that the democratic style doesn’t need a leader – there does need to be a strong figurehead at the top, no matter how accessible or dynamic they are.

Democratic management styles are thought to be more effective than autocratic/authoritarian styles as they promote a more unified business model.

Laissez-faire leadership

From the French term “laissez-faire” or “leave it be” (literal translation is actually “let do”) this is a very liberal approach to leadership, a “hands off” style if you will.

These sort of leaders leave their staff to it, allowing them to make decisions etc.

Strong, skilled staff, trusted to work autonomously are best suited to a laissez-faire style of management but not workers who require a lot of “hands-on” attention and supervision.

A laissez-faire leader does need to exert control once in a while just to remind everyone “who’s boss” otherwise a too hands-off style can leave the ship to appear rudderless.

Which leadership style works best?

This very much depends on the personality of the leader, the persona of the workforce, the business, the business structure & size, the industry, the product or service, the customers, the economic climate, the culture of the territory in which the business is based and where its client base is…

There are so many factors that each style needs to be judged on its own merits in its own environment.

Historically speaking, the best form of leadership is the management style that has created the most success for a business (in terms of everything from profitability to brand recognition etc) and with the balance of keeping customers happy and with a happy, effective and efficient workforce – That will be the ultimate and most suitable management style.

This business advice article is by is4profit’s former business editor Paul Mackenzie Ross.

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