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How Your Leadership Style Influences Your Workforce

There is a reason the most influential business magazines and authors spend much time focusing on leaders. It is a testimony to how important they are to the business effort. Leadership can literally make or break an organization.

The organization not only takes its cultural tone from the leadership style of its executives, employee performance and engagement are also very much affected by it.

Great leadership can inspire and motivate workers, leading to innovation and larger profits. Conversely, poor leadership can cause the best employees to leave and lower productivity, which will eventually reduce profits.

There are 5 recognized styles of leadership:

  • Autocratic
  • Democratic
  • Laissez Faire
  • Transformational
  • Transactional

Each of these has its benefits and drawbacks and affects the workforce differently.

The Autocratic Leadership Style

With the autocratic leader, it is literally their way or the highway. 

The autocratic leader does not seek input from subordinates and is in complete control of their department or organization.

Interestingly enough, this may not be as restrictive as it sounds. An autocratic leader provides a work environment where the goals and objectives are clear and there are clear procedures for achieving them.

Decisions can be made speedily under this type of leadership as they are the only ones involved in the process.

Autocratic management styles tend to work best when employees require or prefer more rules and structure. This leadership style may also be appropriate with more inexperienced employees, who need to be told what to do.

This style will not work well with those who prefer more collaborative environments and may come across as micromanaging workers accustomed to more autonomy.

This leadership is likely to demotivate employees in creative and artistic spaces.

People accustomed to sharing their views regarding decisions made may also feel left out or alienated.

The Democratic Leadership Style

This is leadership by consensus. Leaders with this style tend to consult with subordinates and delegate responsibility and tasks.

It is one of the more sought-after managerial styles. This leader values collaboration with and consensus among their staff before moving ahead with major projects. Their input on major decisions affecting the company is considered.

Employees who want their opinions counted will thrive under this leadership style.

Employees who require monitoring, supervision, or a firmer hand may feel lost in a democratic environment. There tends to be a blurring of the line between management and staff that these employees may not be comfortable with.

Decisions under a democratic leader also tend to take longer.

The Laissez Faire Leadership Style

As the name “laissez-faire” suggests, this leader takes a hands-off approach to management. The manager who uses Liassez Faire in the workplace leaves subordinates with some general guidelines and expects them to come up with their own solutions and workflows.

This approach is best when one is dealing with experienced, highly motivated workers who need little guidance on their day-to-day tasks.

Creativity and innovation may flourish under a laissez-faire leader as they give their employees space and time to come up with solutions.

This leadership style will frustrate persons who benefit from tighter management as the work environment will seem unstructured and arbitrary to them. Less experienced workers may also find it difficult to catch their bearings in such a workplace.

The Transformational Leadership Style

Transformational leaders are all about change. They are best deployed in organizations in need of a “shake-up”.

They will come up with and implement new ways of doing things and often tend to be charismatic.

Employees who feel stifled by their current environment will appreciate this leadership style, as a transformational leader will make changes to anything that hampers worker engagement and productivity.

This management style is not as rigid as the autocratic, more hands-on than the laissez-faire, with all the best features of the democratic leadership style.

Employees who are resistant to change will see the transformational leader as a “troublemaker” who is only trying to stir things up in their “comfortable” work environment.

The Transactional Leadership Style

Pro quid quo is the name of the game with this leader.

This leader sets objectives, names, the rewards, and expects employees to work to those targets.

This environment will motivate employees who value perks, bonuses, accolades, and promotions. The environment also benefits from having clearly defined work roles.

The drawback here is that critical but unrewarded duties may not be performed in this work because employees don’t see there being anything in it for them.

Ultimately, no leadership style is completely or purely one of these. Most are a mix, with one or two clearly dominating. See which description suits your own leadership style the most.

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