Is There a “Right” Style of Leadership?
By Helen Finley, Freelance Author
Following the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of leaders has become even more pivotal. Because of the industry-wide difficulties that businesses of all sizes have faced, the demand for capable managers and executives has risen significantly. In the United States alone, top executives are estimated to see an 8% job growth increase until 2030. Meanwhile, almost 1 million managerial roles are expected to open within the next few years.
More recently, however, companies are looking not just for leaders—but highly effective ones who can stem the effects of the Great Resignation. As over 11 million employees have already left their jobs, analysts underscore that leaders are the key to retaining talent. In fact, many large companies are already investing in their leaders to survive this situation. At SpenglerFox, we’ve already seen leadership become a top HR agendain the new normal.
But leadership isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. For businesses of all sizes to optimize their leaders, they must first find the leadership style for them. In no particular order, here are some of the most common and effective styles that may be right for you:
As its name implies, this leadership style focuses on work “transactions” in which employees are either rewarded or reprimanded depending on the outcome. Also called managerial leadership, this leadership style has a very set chain of command and the roles do not often overlap. While employees are expected to take part in group goal setting, each employee is encouraged to focus more on their output. Performance will then be regularly reviewed by leaders, who are also in charge of doling out the rewards and reprimands. One leader who uses this style is Jeff Bezos. Depending on his team’s performance, they’re either given bonuses or retrained. This style can either be motivating or pressuring, depending on the team and the temperament of the leader. When it works it can be highly motivating, but it is not done properly and with care, it opens the door for potential bullying and favoritism.
Continuous innovation is the primary tenet of transformational leadership. Rather than just assigning employees with a short-term goal, transformational leaders encourage teams to be forward-facing and bold. Instead of simply focusing on their own roles, employees are also encouraged to go above and beyond. This leadership style is best exemplified by the late Steve Jobs who often pushed his employees to grow. For this leadership style to work, leaders should be the most committed to their vision and cause. By being able to work in a group with a clear vision, this leadership style helps businesses continually evolve.
Also called democratic leadership, this style takes the entire team’s opinion into equal consideration. Although leaders will have the final say, they’re also tasked with encouraging an open dialogue with employees. In many cases, leaders will also provide brainstorming prompts and outlines. But never do they try to limit the free flow of ideas. As such, leaders who use this style must have strong soft skills. These include empathy, which 86% of employees say is a leadership attribute that helps them better navigate personal and professional responsibilities. An example of a leader with this style is Bill Gates who was known to take suggestions from all colleagues and teams, regardless of rank. Participative leadership styles are often credited with boosting morale, inclusivity, and productivity.
So is there one “right” leadership style?
At the end of the day, there is no one “right” leadership style. Instead, there is a leadership style that is right for your organization. Rather than trying to focus on making whatever popular style works for your team, it’s better to find one that complements your people, is sustainable, and helps you grow in the foreseeable future. While determining the right leadership style may take some trial and error, once you find it, the positive changes will be worth it.
exclusively written for SpenglerFox By Helen Finley