6 Different Leadership Styles and How to Use Each One (Guest Contribution from Keith Coppersmith)

The following post comes to us from Keith Coppersmith, an experienced business consultant who serves small businesses and startups.


6 Different Leadership Styles and How to Use Each One

Being simply a “boss” is relatively straight forward. You sign paychecks, hire people, let them go, invest, take part in various operations to run your business, then go home and do it all again the next morning. Being a leader, on the other hand, takes an entirely different mindset and an approach that puts a much greater focus on the intricate development of each individual that works as the extension of your company. Leadership implies expectations from your employees, yourself, and your peers. It also means treating your business like a constantly evolving organism, and not just a job or an income stream.

While there’s no cookie-cutter template for being a successful leader, there are several recognized leadership styles that can be broadly applied to any leadership role in any aspect of life, not strictly in business only. To develop the necessary traits of each style, you need to get to know them first and figure out which one fits you the best.

Being the team’s coach

Properly derived from the role of a sports coach, this leadership style is indeed a common one among smaller organizations with a very involved leader. However, there’s a fine line between being involved and supportive, and being a micromanager at heart.

The distinction needs to be perfectly clear, so be careful in case you want to empower the coaching style in your leadership. While it boosts loyalty and devotion, it can seem overly controlling. 

Dictating the tempo for the team 

This somewhat intense approach, called pace-setting, has become very popular in various industries, but also in sports, politics, and a range of other areas of life where leadership means a strong authority paired with guidance. First of all, if you’re wondering what is pace-setting leadership to begin with, the name implies it all: it’s a way to continuously set standards and expectations very high in your organization, so that your employees have a clear idea of what they need to accomplish. 

You’re the one to set the pace for them, but you’re also the one who needs to lead by example. Setbacks to expect? A common consequence of this style includes burnout, since teams work tirelessly to improve and overcome obstacles. If this is a style for you, make sure you introduce a balanced form of pace-setting.

Taking an authoritative stance

Also known as the autocratic or commanding leadership style, this is a common choice for businesses and endeavors that are fast-paced, have many competitors, and that need a strong leader who won’t fear challenges or taking risks. 

That said, you may risk alienating some of your employees with this approach, since not everyone is built to appreciate distance in the workplace, and your company culture may come second to accomplishing specific goals. 

The affiliate leader

At the heart of this leadership style lies collaboration, including you, as the leader of the team. For creative processes that depend on brainstorming, idea exchanges, and collaboration over competition, this may just be a perfect choice. Sometimes, however, certain specific tasks might be neglected while the focus is on collaboration.

It’s important to choose wisely and prevent poor leadership with your teams, because ultimately, your clients should also be happy with your choice and the end product mustn’t suffer due to poor hierarchical integrity within your organization.

Promoting equal participation

With so many governments mimicking the principles of democracy, this one needs no introduction. However, for larger businesses, it can become very challenging to implement such a leadership style, if you need to bring in so many different people on a single decision. 

Yes, shared responsibility is great, but make sure that your team can handle the process and that they can indeed contribute every time. When you need to make a quick call that can change the course of the company, such a stance is far from possible. 

Focusing on the brand’s vision 

When your entire company is created out of shared values and a unique goal, then this is the style most companies would choose. Although short-term milestones and immediate accomplishments are valued, the key is to make decisions in favor of that long-term, overarching vision of your business.

This may seem difficult to achieve for some businesses, but it gives a sense of purpose to teams that will feel that they are genuinely contributing to a grander cause every day they come to work. 

None of the styles are inherently right or wrong for you. They are an overview of your possibilities, and a way to help you understand from what kind of a leadership role your employees and your business will benefit the most. Choose wisely, and keep evolving into the leader your team needs and deserves. 

rsz_keithkAbout the Author: Keith Coppersmith is an Adelaide based business consultant with a degree in Media Management. With experience in numerous small businesses and startups, he enjoys giving advice on all things marketing.

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