Leadership Styles

What is Leadership?

Leadership is essentially the ability of an individual to influence or inspire others towards the achievement of particular goals. Additionally, good leaders have the tools to inspire others, even in extremely difficult situations, to get the task done. Regardless of leadership styles, great leaders will think and act creatively when operating in a leadership capacity. In contrast to management, a person cannot be taught good leadership. However, leadership coaching can be used to enhance leadership skills and management styles. Leadership involves:

  • Coming up with a clear vision
  • Telling others of that vision in such a way that they will willingly follow
  • Providing the methods, knowledge and information needed to fulfill that vision
  • Balancing and coordinating the differing interests of everyone involved


Instructional Leadership

This leadership style is focused on learning for both adults and students. Particularly learning that is measured by enhancement in instruction as well as in the excellence of student learning. A team of leaders must be involved in instructional leadership, with the principal being the head of all the leaders. In order for effective instructional leadership and improved instructional practice to take place, there must be a culture of reflective and public practice. Within the school community, learning, cultural, socioeconomic and linguistic diversity are all addressed through instructional leadership. Furthermore, instructional leadership places focus on effectively managing people and resources.

Charismatic Leadership

Charismatic leadership refers to organizational guidance that is provided by a leader who is considered to be inspiring or heroic. Individuals with these leadership traits are usually granted the power needed to make drastic changes and pull out extraordinary levels of performance from staff members. For example, a charismatic leader who is operating as a business manager could be enlisted to launch a new line of products or orchestrate a turnaround for a particular organization.

Authoritarian Leadership

Authoritarian leadership is sometimes referred to as autocratic leadership. This style of leadership is carried out by a leader by whom policies and procedures are dictated. This type of leader also determines the goals that are to be attained and without any significant participation from subordinates, the leader controls and directs all activities. The team is fully controlled by this leader and there is low autonomy among team members. The vision of the leader is communicated to the group and he or she must have the capacity to effectively motivate group members to complete their tasks. It is expected that group members will work under close supervision to get their tasks accomplished, while the authoritarian or autocratic leader is granted unlimited authority. The responses of subordinates to the orders given by authoritarian leaders are either rewarded or punished.

Democratic Leadership

Sometimes referred to as participative leadership, democratic leadership is a style of leadership that allows members of the team to take a more active role in the process of making decisions. Various studies have indicated that this leadership style is typically one of the most effective. Democratic leadership usually results in higher levels of productivity, increased group morale and group members tend to make better contributions.

Transactional Leadership

This leadership style is also referred to as managerial leadership. Transactional leadership places focus on the roles of organization, supervision and performance of the group. This leadership style promotes the compliance of followers through a system of punishment and reward. In contrast to transformational leadership, it is not the aim of transactional leaders to change the future. Transactional leadership is merely looking to keep things the way they are. This leadership style is most effective in emergency and crisis situations and for projects that require a specific method of completion.

Adaptive Leadership

This leadership style is a practical framework that assists organizations and individuals in adapting and thriving in challenging environments. Adaptive leaders have the capacity to motivate followers to collectively or individually take on the meaningful and gradual process of adaptation. Adaptive leadership involves differentiating between the expendable and the essential, while challenging the status quo. Adaptive leadership provides the framework to change aspirations into reality, particularly when the aspirations of the organization require responses that are outside current capacities.

Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic leadership focuses on fixed official duties that take place under the hierarchy of authority, through a system of rules that are used for decision-making and management. This leadership style can be quite beneficial to lines of business that are highly regulated. Additionally, it can work well in organizations that do not require their employees to have much innovation or creativity. This style of leadership assumes that individuals get motivation from external forces. Bureaucratic leaders typically do not trust themselves or their followers to make decision. Therefore, they rely on organizational rules and policies.

Visionary Leadership

Visionary leaders work with boldness, insight and imagination to build a new dawn. Visionary leadership challenges followers to put their best foot forward and brings team members together around a joint sense of purpose. Visionary leaders operate with the power of alignment and intentionality with a higher purpose. The eyes of these leaders are on the horizon and not just on what is at hand. Visionary leaders are change agents and social innovators who see the big picture and think strategically. Visionary leadership searches for solutions that go beyond the typical adversarial approaches and concentrate on the underlying level of problems.

Tribal Leadership

Tribal Leadership is typically focused on the behavior and language within a culture. This type of leadership focuses on advancing the tribal culture or building the tribe. If this is successful, the tribe recognizes the leader and gives him or her cult-like loyalty, discretionary effort and a reputation of success. Companies and divisions that operate under tribal leadership set industry standard of performance; from employee retention to productivity and profitability.

There are a number of leadership definition like situational leadership, authentic leadership and ethical leadership that are used in a variety of situations. Leadership skills are the most crucial and influential element of all organizations. Great leaders use different leadership models and they are equipped with the necessary skills and tools to influence and impact team members and allow the smooth and competent running of the organization.

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