It should come as no surprise that your leadership style has a lot to do with how your team – and consequently your business – performs.
Your leadership approach affects everything from how well your team works together to how productive they are at work, as well as whether your team is satisfied or looking for an escape route.
If you’re wondering why things are feeling off with your team, you must first truly understand what kind of leader you are and the impact this is having on your team and your business.
Only then can you begin taking steps to further develop your leadership skill set and become the kind of leader you want to be and the kind of leader your team needs.
Leadership comes in a variety of styles.
Each and every style impacts your team’s performance in a different way.
And while some styles are arguably more effective than others, there are appropriate times to use different leadership styles depending on the situation and what your team needs.
Autocratic Leadership Style
Take for instance the Autocratic Leadership style, which is derived from the Greek auto (self) and cratic (rule) – self rule. This type of leadership is centered around the boss. It’s a “my way or the highway” mentality.
Typically, the boss calls all the shots and makes all the decisions, and team members are rarely (if ever) asked or trusted to make decisions or complete important tasks. Often, leaders who micromanage their teams fall under this leadership style.
In environments with highly-trained, experienced, and proficient team members, this style can be very disengaging and often leads to higher turnover rates. These types of employees want to be engaged at a deeper level. They don’t want to be told what to do, they want to shape how things are done.
However, there are times when this style is ideal to use.
One example is during wartime. There’s no time to sit around and brainstorm ideas when a combat unit is in the midst of battle. An autocratic leader is able to step up, take charge, and make decisions quickly to keep the unit safe.
Famous examples of autocratic leaders, from St. Thomas University Online:
- U.S. General George C. Patton
- Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi
- Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller
- U.S. President Richard M. Nixon
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Laissez-faire Leadership Style
On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, you have the Laissez-faire Leadership style. This leader takes a more hands-off approach and leaves everything up to the team members.
Laissez-faire is a French phrase that literally translates to “allow to do” and is typically understood as “Let people do as they choose,” according to Merriam-Webster.
Although this sounds great in theory, this approach is noted as one of the least satisfying and least effective management styles.
Because teams need leaders to paint an inspirational vision of the future, provide guidance, help remove obstacles in order to meet the goals of the business, and to keep the team working together smoothly.
Again, each leadership style has a place in the right situation.
The laissez-faire approach is best with a highly trained, skilled, and experienced team. One that can brainstorm and implement ideas on their own, without the need for guidance or support from the CEO, such as a sales and service team at a car dealership. Each individual is highly trained, knows their role, and can work together efficiently.
There’s caveat, though, with this approach. It’s dangerous as a leader to be completely hands-off. You should always be providing some level of guidance and support, to ensure that the team stays aligned with the vision, mission, values, and goals of the company.
This small shift in the Laissez-faire leadership style pushes it over into the Supported Autonomy leadership style, where the leader is more hands-off, but providing needed support and guidance along the way.
Famous examples of laissez-faire leaders, from Future of Working:
- President Herbert Hoover
- Innovator Andrew Mellon
- President Martin Van Buren
- Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
- Investor Warren Buffett
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By the Numbers
A big component of leadership, regardless of style or type, is being able to effectively engage your team.
A 2017 workplace survey by Gallup found that: “Only one-third of U.S. employees are engaged at work. And only about one in five say they’re managed in a way that motivates them to do great work. Bluntly, many employees feel indifferent about their jobs.”
The report goes on to break this down even further:
Gallup finds they also have little faith in their company’s leadership:
- 22% of employees strongly agree that the leadership of their organization has a clear direction for the organization
- 15% of employees strongly agree that the leadership of their organization makes them enthusiastic about the future
- 13% of employees strongly agree that the leadership of their organization communicates effectively with the rest of the organization
You might be thinking at this point, “Okay cool statistics, but I don’t really see the point. What does this have to do with me or with my leadership style?”
According to The Healthy Workplace Survey by Mental Health America, “disengaged workers had 37 percent higher absenteeism, 49 percent more accidents, and 60 percent more errors and defects, contributing to $450-500 billion a year in losses in productivity” in the U.S. workforce.
What does that mean in layman’s terms?
Simply put, when your workers don’t feel connected to the business, they don’t do their best work. And when they’re not doing their best work, it’s causing you to lose money, through poor performance, inefficiencies, and unhappy workers.
Being a leader is a tough job.
Every day, there are people who are relying on you to make decisions, find solutions to problems, inspire and motivate them, and more.
It’s a position that requires a great deal of self-awareness and dedication to continued learning through experience and self-development.
No leader is perfect. We’ve all made mistakes and we all have flaws.
The key to being a successful leader is to admit that you’re a work in progress – and have a strong commitment to become better each and every day.