What are the different types of leadership styles?

There are four different major leadership styles. The first three are:

  • Authoritative
  • Participative
  • Free reign

types of leadership stylesThink about a slide at the park, and you climbing the steps. When get to the top, that’s the authoritative style. Halfway down that slide, as you’re sliding down, that’s participative. And down at the bottom, where you get off, that’s free reign.

Now, the problem with most leaders is, when they become part of a new team, they want to be everybody’s friend. It doesn’t matter if they like you or not. The real questions is, “Do they trust me?” The first thing you need to do, as the leader, is build trust. How do you start doing that? You have to start at the authoritative leader side. That does not mean you have to be a Marine Corps drill sergeant. It does mean that you’ve got to set rules, guidelines, and expectations. You have to be hard up-front. When you’re hard up-front, you can soften up and become more participative down the line. As you become more participative, opportunities to be more free reign will begin to happen.

The fourth leadership style is the flexible leader. The flexible leader is adaptable and flexible to the needs of their followers. In reality, we should always be flexible, using each of the other three styles as needed, rather than relying on a single leadership style.

Teamwork is not a consensus. Teamwork is not democratic. Every team has a leader. It’s not always the person in charge, but every team has a leader. One of the myths about teamwork is that teams are self-directed. Teams are not self-directed. Teams can become self-directed.

This means that, as a team is developed, it goes through the four stages of team development; forming, storming, norming, and performing. As teams go through this process, the leader needs adapt their leadership style appropriately, usually starting with the authoritative leadership style. If they start with the free reign style, they’ll never gain trust and respect. It’s like trying to climb that slide we talked about in your sock feet. It’s brutal. You might get there, but you’re going to get banged up a lot. Climbing up the ladder is a lot easier.


Related articles:  Leadership Development, Leadership Development Program(s), Leadership Team Development, Difference Between Management and Leadership

Other topics that may be of interest to you:  Organizational Culture, Teamwork in the Workplace, Employee Training & Development, Employee Retention

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