What Is Your Leadership Style?

Leadership Style

Leadership is an important component of management. Without it, there is no organization or direction. Instead, there will be chaos and confusion. Decisions cannot be made because there is no accountability. That is why leadership is one of the most sought-after traits in management. Companies spend thousands of dollars on programs that can help develop leaders within the ranks.

A group without a leader is just a collective. In the presence of a leader, the group becomes a team. Think about it. The most successful teams in professional sports were defined by its leadership. A good example was the Detroit Pistons team which won the NBA Finals in 2004.

The Pistons consisted of journeymen players; those who were discarded from their previous teams. In the 2004 Finals, the Pistons met the Los Angeles Lakers who were led by All-Stars Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. During the off-season, the Lakers signed two more All-Stars in Gary Payton and Karl Malone.

Detroit did not have All-Stars but was led by a veteran guard, Chauncey Billups whose strong but silent leadership style earned the respect of his fellow players. Billups recognized their strengths and harnessed them. He saw their weaknesses and accepted them.

In contrast, the Lakers’ All-Stars were feuding. Bryant and O’Neal both wanted the ball. Malone had an off-court altercation with Bryant. Payton wanted more playing time. Even the legendary coach, Phil Jackson, could not manage the players’ egos when it counted the most.

In the end, the Pistons beat the Lakers with Los Angeles only winning one game in the Finals. Billups was chosen Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP).

When you have a leader on your team, you do not need All-Stars because he/she will make everyone a superstar. A leader knows how to harness your strengths and takes the time to work on your weaknesses.

7 Leadership Styles: Which One Is Yours?

Are leaders born or made? That question has been the subject of much debate. There are people who seem to take naturally to leadership roles. They exude charisma, embrace challenges, and people tend to gravitate toward them. Some would say they were “born to become leaders”.

Then you have those whose leadership skills were honed from experience and years of study. They have been in the trenches and had the know-how to lead his/her people out of dire situations. Some would say they rose from the ranks because they “accepted the mantle of leadership”.

The truth is everyone has leadership qualities. A study by the University of Illinois showed that while there are some people who are predisposed to leadership, it does not mean that those who are not cannot acquire it.

It may just be that your leadership style is different. You could be manifesting leadership qualities in your day-to-day activities but it may not be perceived as clearly compared to other styles.

So which one is your leadership style? Here are 7 leadership styles that may represent your own.

1. The Democratic Leader

You are someone who likes to get everyone on the team involved in the decision-making process. Yes, you will ultimately make the final decision. However, you make sure every individual on your team has the opportunity to study the situation and present his/her opinion on how to best address the matter.

This style of leadership is one of the best and probably generates the most productive outcomes. People like to be heard. They want to be involved. Within an organization, subordinates want the opportunity to show management what they can do; how they think and approach problem-solving.

By soliciting the opinions of his/her people, the Democratic Leader shows that he/she recognizes their value to the organization. The Democratic Leader lets the people know, he/she cannot do this on his/her own. To succeed requires a team effort.

The Democratic Leader approach also reduces the risk of making costly decisions. Your people will view the situation differently. The benefit of being Democratic is that you will see solutions from different perspectives.

In many cases, this helps filter out potential flaws in the decision-making process until what you are left with is the best course of action.

2. The Autocratic Leader

The Autocratic Leader is the exact opposite of the Democratic Leader. He/she does not respect the opinions of others. The Autocrat will not consult the members of his/her team. The Autocrat will make decisions on his/her own.

This style of leadership is rarely, if ever at all, effective. It is typical of people who have a “Strongman” mentality. All you have to do is review world history and see how the Autocratic rule has failed their respective countries.

Even the Autocratic leaders of today; Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, have failed to improve the economy as well as the livelihood of the people.

Autocrats create dissension within the organization. It breeds contempt and polarizes people to segment themselves into different sub-groups. As such, there will be no strong foundation for the organization to support itself.

The single-decision maker system will likewise open the organization to incidents of graft and corruption. The Autocrat may abuse his/her power and introduce changes in the structure or current system to benefit personal interests.

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3. Laissez-Faire Leader

Laissez-Faire is a French word that translated into English means, “let them do”. A person who practices this leadership style essentially transfers the authority to make decisions to his/her people.

In some cases, companies allow employees to “self-govern” their work responsibilities in order to accommodate their current situation. For example, a worker who has to split time between the office and attending to the needs of a parent recovering from surgery.

Companies that have this accommodation follow the ROWE Concept or Results-Only Work Environment which was developed by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson.

In this type of program, employees are evaluated based on performance. The number of hours worked or the frequency of having a physical presence at work is not considered. GAP and the American Society of Clinical Oncology implement ROWE in the workplace.

Another variation of the Laissez-Faire style of Leadership is Holacracy which was popularized by Tony Hsieh for his company, Zappos. Holacracy is a form of decentralized management. There is no management team. Instead, the responsibility of making decisions is passed on to holarchy teams.

Likewise, there are no positions or individual designations. People are identified by roles that are determined by the team or holarchy.

Zappos has adopted Holacracy since 2014. However, it is not clear if the program has benefited Zappos and the employees. Reports have surfaced that employees have resigned due to greater pressures at work.

If you plan to implement the Laissez-Faire leadership style to your business, you should constantly keep track of the company’s performance. Make sure you are updated on every decision made by your people.

4. The Strategic Leader

The Strategic Leader is a person who attempts to find a balance, or an equilibrium point, between the interests of the company executives and personnel. Decisions are made on the basis of whether the course of action would protect the interest of one without compromising the interest of another.

Numbers are a key component of the Strategic Leader’s game plan. He/she likes to review numbers to have a good idea of the company’s financial position. This way, if the executives are proposing a course of action, the Strategic Leader can see if this can adversely affect personnel.

For example, the company executives plan a shift to capital or technologically intensive processes. The Strategic Leader would want to find out if such a move would lead to layoffs.

The Strategic Leader can be effective. However, because he/she positions between the executive and the interests of personnel, there will be situations whereby decisions cannot be finalized.

As a person of authority, you have to realize that you can never please everyone all the time. Over time, you may encourage people to believe they can always get their way and that can have disastrous consequences.

5. The Transformational Leader

The Transformational Leader believes that business conditions are always changing. The industry is in a perpetual state of evolution. There are always new developments and trends are constantly shifting. Therefore, he/she wants people to evolve with change.

The advantage of having a Transformational Leader is that he/she will not hesitate to invest in new training programs. The Transformational Leader does not want to be left behind. He/she wants the people to be ready and prepared to learn, understand, and implement new processes.

The great thing about a Transformational Leader is his/her willingness to invest in the human asset. However, pushing people to constantly learn new processes and systems may take them off their natural learning curve. It takes time to develop the skills necessary to become proficient at a new procedure.

Some people may have a difficult time transitioning from one school of thought to another. If you are a Transformational Leader, you may want to consider transitioning the new learning through a series of waves or teams.

Divide the organization into different teams. Segmentation can be based on years of experience or consistency of performance. Let Team #1 go through the new learning program.

Once they have completed the training, allow them time to implement the procedure. Evaluate the test results. If the results are in line with expectations, have Team #2 undergo the same type of training.

6. The Bureaucratic Leader

The three words that best describe the Bureaucratic Leader: By the book. If you base the finality of your decisions on existing company guidelines and policies, you are a Bureaucratic Leader.

Unlike the Autocratic Leader, the Bureaucratic Leader will allow his/her people to voice out their thoughts and opinions. However, if the recommendations run contrary to the company’s policies, the Bureaucratic Leader will shut them down even if these make good business sense.

During these times when the Internet and the continued evolution of digital technology have made innovation a necessity, the Bureaucratic Leader is ineffective. Rigid business modeling will not generate consistent results in constantly shifting business environments.

7. The Transactional Leader

The Transactional Leader is a person who likes to match performance with incentives. This leadership style is prevalent in sales departments where management will incentivize people with attractive commission rates and bonuses.

Providing incentive schemes are great. Most people work because they want to achieve financial stability. Evaluations that are based on incentives earned will also give irrefutable empirical evidence on an employee’s performance.

However, on the downside, the employee may associate his/her value with currency. The intangibles such as dedication, passion, respect for others, punctuality, and professionalism may end up swept by the wayside in favor of higher earnings.

It may also encourage a “win at all cost” attitude whereby employees resort to unscrupulous ways and means to achieve their targets.


In truth, there are no bad leadership styles. Whether your approach succeeds or not, will depend on how you apply your leadership methods. Amazon is a tightly-run ship and one can make the case that its CEO, Jeff Bezos, is an autocrat. However, no one can argue with the success of Amazon.

Virgin Group CEO Sir Richard Branson may be thought of as a Transformational Leader. He loves investing in his people’s training and in fact, is highly-involved with the company’s interesting management training programs.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has his office table mixed in with the rest of his people. Zuckerberg appears to be an example of a Democratic Leader. He likes to get his people involved in the decision-making process.

So which one best represents your leadership style? Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and opinions about this article in the comments section below.

And if you want to know how Mountaintop can help your business move to the next level of success, please feel free to give us a call or drop us an email. We will get back to you right away.

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