Leadership Styles – How to Make the Most of Them

Being an effective operations manager does not always translate into being a great leader, a common misconception in small business management.

Leadership is about creating and communicating a vision, inspiring others, teaching others and promoting a positive business model.

Operational details are one thing; human nature is a whole different ball game. A great boss inherently represents both sides of this dynamic.

Many experts agree that there are five distinct leadership styles:

• Democratic
• Paternalistic
• Authoritarian
• Laissez-faire
• Transactional

Democratic leaders promote the decision-making process as a team effort. The leader may always have the final say but group participation feeds the machine.

This form of leadership really prospers in creative and think-tank formats.

Paternalistic leadership is based on a familial style of hierarchy.  Thinking outside of the box takes a backseat here, promoting a deep dedication to the ‘father figure’ leader. Commitment and loyalty are rewarded with the comfort of job security.

“Leadership is about sharing a vision and inspiring others.”

Authoritarian leaders exploit their significance over that of the employee. Trust and creativity do not flourish in this environment however decisions are made quickly and effectively.

Consider incorporating this form of leadership in deadline stages or when pushing for proficient task completion.

Laissez-faire is all about delegation. The leader here simply allocates the resources and instruction necessary. This style leaves productivity up to the workers – when your team is highly motivated and capable, this form of leadership is prosperous.

Transactional leadership is based on reward and punishment. The relationship is one of give and take between leader and employer. Militaristic in nature, beware of killing creativity by encouraging employees to play it safe.

There is no way to determine which leadership style will work for you – the best solution is likely a mix of styles, applicable at different stages of business development. But that is not to say you should be a Jekyll and Hyde!