Five leadership styles and how they can impact employees

Joel Svensson

Whether they know it or not, every business owner is practising a particular style of leadership. Each style has its own advantages and drawbacks, and its effectiveness depends on the needs and pressures peculiar to each firm. ShortPress explores what these styles look like and what effect they can have on employees.

Participative

A democratic style of leadership, this involves the leader seeking advice and information from their team, but making the final decision themselves. As the emphasis is on open communication rather than timeliness, participative leadership behaviours are best suited to times of low stress.

Participative leadership styles usually appeal to millennials, who tend to respond well when included in decisions.

Laissez-faire

A loose style of leadership that places emphasis on independence and decentralised decision-making.

Laissez-faire leadership requires a high level of self-motivation by staff in order to be effective. Unless employees are already highly engaged in their roles, practising this style may see negative results.

While loyalty may be used as part of an exchange relationship, transactional leadership isn’t necessarily effective when it comes to inspiring loyalty.

Transactional

In line with a more traditional understanding of employer-employee relationships, transactional leadership occurs when the leader and their followers are involved in an exchange relationship. Common examples include money for labour, loyalty for retention or promotion, and contribution for exposure.

While loyalty may be used as part of an exchange relationship, transactional leadership isn’t necessarily effective when it comes to inspiring loyalty. The exchange relationship is transitory in nature; once the transaction has concluded, there is little binding the parties together.

Servant

Most often used by leaders in not-for-profit organisations, servant leadership sees leaders acting primarily to support and enable their staff. They identify the behaviours necessary for their followers to be effective, and then support those behaviours as much as possible. This style is suited to environments in which high employee motivation is absolutely essential – such as fundraising.

Employees under effective servant-style leadership tend to have high emotional engagement both with their roles and the organisation, as well as competitive productivity.

Transformational leaders inspire employees by discussing their roles with them, helping them develop their skills as well as a vision for their own future.

Transformational

Characterised by dramatic, sometimes rapid change, this style is most commonly employed by charismatic leaders. It requires the ability to inspire followers and stimulate them intellectually, as well as a high capacity for risk-taking and a strong, clear vision of the company’s future.

Transformational leaders inspire employees by discussing their roles with them, helping them develop their skills as well as a vision for their own future.

Joel Svensson

Joel Svensson is a Melbourne-based freelance writer specialising in politics and business.

Image: US Army AfricaFlickr CC license

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