Follow the Leader: Understanding Leadership Styles


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Follow the Leader: Understanding Leadership Styles

Leading a team of employees often takes a considerable amount of planning. Knowing which leadership style works best for your group is half the battle.

Leadership Crisis in the U.S.?

There is a sentiment in many U.S. businesses that more leaders are needed, including more training of capable employees. (1)

$164 billion

Amount spent on training and development in 2012


Percentage of that money spent on leadership development


Percentage of employees who admit to being disengaged, a problem that can be solved with effective, involved leadership.


Percentage of U.S. employees who say there are not enough leadership successors in place at their work. This means only about one-third of businesses are preparing to train new leaders.


Percentage of employees who say that receiving praise from a manager was "very" or "extremely" rewarding

Styles of Leadership

Autocratic (2,3,5)

What it is: Leaders make decisions alone without the input of others. They possess total authority over those below them.

When to use it: When snap decisions need to be made in a time of crisis.

Strengths: Can show authority to employees and make quick fixes.

Weaknesses: Autocratic leaders are often disliked and employees may feel frustrated and stifled that their opinions are worthless.
Famous example: Steve Jobs

Laissez-faire (2,3,6)

What it is: Offering little supervision or input to employees, allowing them to make most and sometimes all decisions on their own.

When to use it: When there are many experienced, highly trained workers on your staff.

Strengths: Experienced workers feel more satisfied and free to be creative.

Weaknesses: Offers little training to new or struggling employees, leading to loss in production and a high turnover rate.

Famous example: Herbert Hoover

Participative (2,3,4)

What it is: Leaders run a semi-democracy, where employee input is taken into consideration although the final decision rests with the leader.

When to use it: When valuable input from employees is needed in a situation that involves everyone.

Strengths: Employees feel trusted and free to express themselves.

Weaknesses: Sometimes there is too much listening and employee input with little action on their concerns.

Famous example: Donald Trump

Transactional (2,3,4)

What it is: Leaders and employees set predetermined goals with each other, and leaders provide rewards or punishments to employees for either reaching or failing to reach said goals.

When to use it: This style works best with teams that do well when motivated and offered incentives for performance.

Strengths: Employees feel compensated for their hard work.

Weaknesses: There is a large focus on performance numbers, which is not always an indicator of a good worker.

Famous example: Joseph McCarthy

Transformational (2,3,4)

What it is: Leaders and team members are involved in one goal that is based on the "big picture."

When to use it: When a large goal needs to be met by the entire company.

Strengths: Employees feel important, working with leaders to accomplish the same goal. It strengthens the sense of comradery among the team.

Weaknesses: Leaders may micromanage employees when working closely with them or delegate too many tasks.

Famous example: Martin Luther King Jr.