What Are Leadership Styles?

Every leader has a specific style that defines them as a leader. If you ask the people are following that leader, they’ll be able to tell you what it’s like from their perspective to receive that leaders influence. They may say things like:

  • Their tough but fair
  • I feel they are leading in the right direction
  • My leader is very diplomatic
  • My leader can’t make the simplest decision.
  • I feel safe enough that I can take risks and fail without being reprimanded for my efforts
  • I feel acknowledge for my contribution
  • I can trust them.
  • They don’t trust anything I do and micro-manage everything.
  • They’re only in it for their own glory.

The style of leadership you use for each situation has an impact. Your actions will create a positive uplifting environment or cause people around you to question your motives. Every different situation will test your leadership style and although many people will argue which style is best, the important thing is not which one is best, but rather, which style is best for this situation. For example, a directive leadership style works excellent under crisis when a leader needs to step up and be direct and to the point on what needs to happen. Conversely, if a leader was to be diplomatic taking time to get everyone’s input during a crisis, that will lead to confusion and more than likely add to the problems because no one will know what to do.

A Personal Example Shifting Leadership Styles

I remember having a conversation with my wife about changing our lifestyle to produce better vitality as we age. Her suggestion was for us to both enroll in “yoga classes” to increase our flexibility and core strength. Now don’t get me wrong, although this sounds like a good healthy alternative, my mind had a few thoughts that made me question this choice. 

Its funny how the human mind works when presented with a new thought. We first compare each new thought to our past experience and then come up with a bios. From there we justify our bias and fight off our natural response to change with the goal of staying with what we have done before. My thoughts did all of these steps and then recalled a poor-quality comedy I had seen years ago. That’s where things got interesting

You see, I had a mental picture of this video and in it two young fellows went to a yoga studio thinking they would be able to find attractive women to ask out on a date. When they got there, they were shocked to find the room filled with a mixed group of seniors all wearing spandex pants and body suits. And of course, I had the vision that goes with it – I saw myself in spandex and it wasn’t pretty! I sincerely believe that although spandex is promoted as one size fits all, it’s not always a good thing for everyone – especially me. The same principle applies to leadership. Let me explain.

Adapting Your Leadership Style Gives You Power

Leadership is not a “one size fits all” thing: it’s not the same for everyone or every situation. It’s not something you can take a single course on and master. Rather, it is a process of becoming a better leader. When you lead effectively you must effectively influence others. Often, you must adapt your leadership style to fit a situation or a specific group/person. If you are only strong in one leadership style you will find that your effectiveness and ability to influence others will decrease. This is why it’s useful to study each unique leadership style so you can switch as needed. Although you may have a natural dominant leadership style, each time you switch your leadership style to match the situation at hand you gain more power to make things happen. 

Here are 10 of the more common leadership styles:

  • Autocratic/Authoritarian Leadership 
  • Transactional/Delegative Leadership 
  • Transformational/ Democratic Leadership 
  • Coach-style Leadership
  • Strategic Leadership
  • Passive/hands off Leadership
  • Bureaucratic Leadership
  • Servant Leadership
  • Charismatic Leadership
  • Results Leadership

So, the moral of this story is simple – I’m not going to wear spandex; it’s not my style. I’m a sweats and baggy T-shirt kind of guy and “no” they won’t match. I wear a suit for my profession and blue jeans around the campfire. The same goes for leadership where the key is to be yourself and switch your style for each of the different situations you meet. That will give you the greatest ability to be affective, and even more, you’ll enjoy it more!


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