Your firsthand guide to choosing the right leadership style

There was a time when organizations thrived with their comfortable hierarchies, everything moving up the chain of command and decisions moving down at a snail’s pace. Then we had the dot-com bubble and the old business model crumbled. Everyone got the message—businesses must move faster.

In my 21 years as CEO, I’ve lived that change. The old central leadership model that I knew as a young man has given way to a fresh, team-based approach. This means that contemporary business leaders look at leadership differently. But, how would you choose a leadership style that agrees with your strengths and weaknesses?

Develop the right mindset

Before anything else, let’s be clear—true and effective leadership is not about what title you hold or what awards or accolades you have received. Leadership models aren’t about handing out orders. The goal of leadership is to inspire your team to drive forward, fostering an environment where stakeholders are motivated, proactive and creative.

Build your leadership model around ‘People’

An ideal leadership model should focus on assessing employee motivation and valuing their needs. Sometimes, you can rely on your subordinates to identify what they expect from their leader. Holding department meetings, focus groups and one-to-one meetings can help you uncover their expectations.

Choose a leadership style

Once you understand how to encourage your employees, the next step is applying the right leadership model—the simplest mechanism to deliver results. There are several common leadership models:

  • Autocratic – this old-school, top-down approach is highly directional
  • Democratic – a consultative and participative leadership style
  • Transformational – a style concerned with vision and driving change
  • Laissez-Faire – a non-authoritarian leadership style that tries to give the least possible guidance to the subordinate
  • Transactional – a leadership approach concerned with the interaction between leader and followers
  • Shared Leadership – a style that broadly distributes leadership responsibilities
  • Servant – a leadership model that relies on a sense of community and shared decision-making

Out of the above-mentioned leadership models, choose one that suits your line of business. It’s also perfectly OK not to identify completely with any of these common leadership models. You can always adopt and adapt different leadership styles to make them work for you. Regardless of your choice, you must be able to convince your team to embrace change and improve.

Revisit your leadership style

Regardless of which of the leadership style you choose, you should always retain your ability to assess yourself objectively and find points for improvement. Trust me, even if you revisit your leadership style each quarter, there will always be ways to be better at what you do.

Final thought: True leaders inspire, motivate and stir people to go beyond their capabilities without getting bossy. Choosing the right leadership style can enable you to determine which action can make the biggest positive impact on the organization.