Psychologists and management gurus have identified many leadership styles; some of which have evolved and some that have stayed the test of time. While some leaders stick to one particular style of leadership, others tailor their styles according to what the situation demands. These leadership styles are not just for CEOs but for any professional, and in some cases, one can use these leadership approaches in their personal life too. Here’s a roundup of six of our favorite leadership styles along with the strengths, weaknesses of each and examples of leaders who adopted the style.
Examples: Larry Page (CEO & Co-Founder, Google), Mark Zuckerberg (CEO, Facebook)
Key Phrase: “I can do it better”
Description: These leaders know that transformation is what is going to make their company succeed within a given industry. They challenge the status quo by introducing a new way of doing something. Be it a new way to consume music or to connect with people online, these leaders are innovators in every sense of the word. Google’s CEO Larry Page recently stated, “We still feel computers are pretty bad,” and there can be more work done to make it better.
1. Finds a better way of doing something
2. Can spot what is not working more easily than any other leaders
3. Can cater to niche markets
1. Can put people off with the amount of risk involved, as they sometimes challenge market leaders
2. Can conflict with people who resist change
Pace Setter Leadership
Examples: Elon Musk (CEO, Tesla), Jeff Bezos (CEO, Amazon), Bill Gates (Former CEO, Microsoft)
Key Phrase: “Let’s dream big and set standards”
Description: These leaders set the pace for their own company and others in the industry to follow. The example of how Elon Musk opened up Tesla’s patents and set standards for the future automobile industry to follow is a perfect example of a Pace Setter. Other automobile companies will likely need to match Musk’s actions to keep pace with Tesla.
1. True visionaries can revolutionize an industry and cater to future markets
2. Will be “two steps” ahead of their competitors
3. Will lead by example and empower people with their own deep-seated values
1. Can be outdone by other transformational leaders
2. Staff can get easily burnout by trying to keep pace
Examples: Warren Buffet (Business Magnate and Investor), Richard Branson (Founder, Virgin Group)
Key Phrase: “I’ll give you the tools and autonomy to execute”
Description: Think “hands-off” when you talk about laissez-faire style of leadership. Leaders delegate responsibility for the accomplishment of work objectives and hand over decision-making power to their employees. They do however provide general direction and the tools for goal achievement. “A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts,” is Richard Branson’s quote that is often used to highlight his laissez-faire leadership style.
1. Enables employees to have creative freedom and approach their task autonomy
2. Great for creating future leaders
3. Delegation of tasks results in better use of time for the leader
4. Successors are organically created
1. Employees or team members who need more direction can be at a loss
2. Productivity can suffer if the leader fails to imbue a strong sense of accountability among his/her staff
3. Each employee or team member needs to have high levels of self-motivation to work under this leadership style
Examples: Nick Bollettieri (American Tennis coach to grand slam winners like Andre Agassi, The Williams Sisters, Maria Sharapova and more), Cesar Milan (Dog Psychologist and TV Show Host)
Key Phrase: “Let me teach you how its done”
Description: This style of leadership focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of individual team members or employees. This type of leader coaches a person to realize his or her potential and in the process achieves the identified goals.
1. Knowledge transfer takes place organically
2. Great for creating successors
3. Creates feelings of empowerment and motivation amongst team
1. Can sometimes cross the thin line between coaching and micro-managing
2. Might discourage independent work among staff, while dependencies on the leader can increase
3. Does not work with large teams and organizations
Examples: Alex Ferguson (Former Manchester United team manager), Margaret Thatcher (Late U.K. Prime Minister), Jack Welch (Former CEO, General Electric)
Key Phrase: “I direct, you follow”
Description: These leaders follow a commanding and hands-on style of leadership. Authoritative leaders are known to keep their teams on their toes, while constantly providing direction and instructions.
1. Great during crisis situations and at inflection points
2. Can get work done
1. Can stifle creativity
2. May curb the creation of future leaders within an organization
3. Might invoke fear among staff, instead of true respect
4. There can be conflict if team members are experts who know more than the leader
Examples: Barack Obama (U.S. President), Oprah Winfrey (TV Show Host & Media Proprietor), Bill Clinton (Former U.S. President)
Key Phrase:“Let’s do it together”
Description:Charismatic leaders ooze charm allowing them to connect with and mobilize people to achieve goals. These leaders easily appeal to people and use their strengths to forge lasting business relationships.
1. Can inspire people to act and move towards goals
2. Are seen as more approachable and friendlier than other leaders
3. Can build strong relationships and also repair relationships gone sour
1. While charismatic leaders are proven activators, they sometimes lack follow-through when it comes to execution
2. May miss out on finer technical and practical details since they focus more on human relationships
3. Could come across as self-promoting
With rapid changes in work styles and expectations of the younger workforce entering the market, the need for more laissez-faire leaders is on the rise. However, the importance of other leadership styles has not diminished in any way. Volatile markets, an ever increasing demand for better products and a changing workforce mean leaders now need to more agile and versatile to assume various leadership styles as needed.