How do you define a leader? Maybe you think a leader is someone who has the natural traits needed to be a leader, and that combination of special traits enables them to lead and help others accomplish tasks. Or maybe you think a leader develops these ideas over time, learning and growing with a transformational process, gaining skills to make effective leadership possible. Either way, leaders typically fall under a “type” of leadership.
So, what type of leader am I? When you ask yourself that question, what comes to mind? A fair leader? A respectful leader? These are good traits to have, however they don’t connote a style of leadership.
There are three main styles of leadership that can be seen throughout some of the best leaders. These styles all have advantages as well as disadvantages that are helpful to know as a leader, as well as definitions that can help you understand exactly how your style of leadership is exhibited.
The Styles of Leadership:
Authoritarian (Autocratic) Leadership:
Now, don’t start thinking: I wouldn’t want to be authoritarian, that makes me sound like a dictator. Yes, sometimes there is a stigma against authoritarian leaders as it seems to make a leader look cold, almost similar to a dictator. This style is typically used with a newer audience or working group - most likely team members who have little to no skill regarding a task. This leadership is used when tasks need to be completed in a time crunch, and this leader will delegate tasks to the team with little discussion. It is a very structured leadership style, so if you are a stickler for rules and regulations this style could be you.
However, this leadership style does have some setbacks. If the group has about the same level of knowledge and skill as the leader does on a certain topic, the clash between leader and followers’ needs can become harsh and work will not get done. Along with this, the delegation of tasks by an authoritarian leader causes decreased creativity in the team, which most members don’t like and have a hard time working with. These days, an authoritarian leadership style is not typically used, only in specific situations that require strict instruction. If you are this leadership style, you are similar to our State President, Julia Stover.
Participative (Democratic) Leadership:
I’m sure most of us understand the word “Democratic,” as our own government uses this to describe how the people have the authority to choose and vote in their government legislators. In this case, “Democratic” relates to the balance between Authoritarian and Laissez-Faire leadership. This leadership style allows for the input from team members to be considered when a leader is making a decision for the team.
It allows for collaboration, which boosts morale within the team and ultimately strengthens the effectiveness of the leader. Part of the style also includes “Participative,” which includes the sharing of ideas and contributions that are more likely to be well done, creative, and boosts the team’s motivation.
However, this can cause problems. When the leader must make an important decision in a small amount of time, they don’t have the ability to consult with the rest of the team, which can cause issues between the team and the leader. There can also be problems when those who are part of the team do not have the right amount of skill or knowledge to help the leader when making decisions and being part of the collaboration. When a team member can’t understand the information surrounding the decision being made, they cannot actively help the leader or team come to an agreement, therefore bringing both the leader and team down.
This leadership style is most commonly called the most effective leadership styles, however, there can still be some negative effects. If you have this leadership style, you are similar to our State Secretary, Alexandra Medina, State Vice-President, Naman Satsangi, and State Treasurer, Ayoola Laleye.
Delegating (Laissez-Faire) Leadership:
Laissez-Faire, a French word translating to “leave alone” (or, literally, “let you do”) is a very lax style of leadership. This style, contrary to an authoritarian leading style, works best with a team that is highly trained and needs little supervision. Like authoritarian leadership, the aspect of delegating tasks is present. However, in this situation, the delegation of tasks is designed to challenge a team member and build a semblance of trust and self-esteem growth between a leader and the team. This type of delegation promotes creativity and innovation. The leader puts much of their trust in the team in order to get tasks done.
Once again, there are some setbacks. Because this style is very relaxed, many team members have a hard time focusing. Many are prone to procrastination due to the leadership style and have a hard time being productive and getting started on work. This type of leader does not express what they wish the expectations of the work to be, and members can find this confusing and stressful. These types of leaders can also be non-confrontational, so if a team member does not do their work, a Laissez-Faire leader has a hard time calling them out, as well as team members finding it hard to accept personal responsibility with their unfinished tasks.
This leadership style can be effective if done correctly and in an organized fashion. If you have this leadership style, you are similar to our State Historian, Allison Smith and State Secondary Representative, Chase Hale.
It’s important as a leader to know what style of leadership you have. When you know your specific leadership style, you are more likely to be able to lead more effectively by building off of advantages and disadvantages of your leadership style and become better at leading others. All of the leadership styles have something to work on, and by creating a plan with set goals can help you become a better leader.
In order to find out your own personal leadership style, take this quiz, then come back and start planning and setting goals!
All information found from Ice Breaker Ideas, as well as,
Northouse, Peter G. “Introduction: Leadership Defined.” Leadership: Theory and Practice, by Peter G. Northouse, Sage, 2019, pp. 4–6.