In order for a team to “take the job” to “overcome every goal and expectation with flying colors,” it is important to understand the difference between what a group of people is about managing and leading a group of people. There are almost as many ways to lead for as many people who are leaders. In view of the particular challenges and needs of the people involved, diverse leadership styles can be effective. The productive leading leaders will switch between styles, choosing which one is required at the moment, rather than selecting one leadership style.

Transactional Leadership

One of the common forms of leadership, transactional leadership, describes a situation in which the “transaction” is understood, namely that team members decide to follow their leader in exchange for financial gain. There is reward for every completed task and punishment for the work that is not done.

This type of leading may sound a little bit tough, but the fact that transactional leadership clarifies the role of all from the start so that when a project begins, there is no confusion at all.

One of the negative elements is that team members often have little satisfaction with their work and no room for real growth, which can lead to high employee turnover. This method of leadership style is usually appropriate when a manager needs to supervise short-term activities.

Charismatic Leadership

Charismatic leaders are those who can inspire, enthusiastic and empower members of their team. It is clearly an immense advantage to any leader to be able to create enthusiasm and anticipation amongst the team members.

There are positive and negative factors associated with every leadership style. Although it is very good that we are inspired by the team members to do their best and to produce stellar results, charismatic leaders tend to believe in themselves rather than the team. Charismatic leaders also often believe that, when others warn against problems, they can’t do wrong and can’t listen.

Democratic/Participative Leadership

This leadership approach to completing tasks is a more balanced one. Democratic leaders include team members in the process and promote creativity and problem solving, but ultimately make the final decisions.

The main advantages of this leadership style are that team members tend to be extremely satisfied with their positions because they are valued and tend to work hard and remain in a position. Although in this case the decision-making process may be slower, the outcomes often are fantastic.

On the downside, when speed and efficiency are critical in projects, as they are during a crisis, sometimes time can be wasted to ensure all team members ‘ voices are heard.

Laissez-Faire Leadership

Laissez-Faire is French for “leave it be,” and this style of leadership describes a situation where team members are allowed to work on their own. Leaders give their team total freedom to do their work and to set their own milestones and deadlines. They will, when necessary, lend advice and resources, but otherwise remain uninvolved.

Although this style, compared to the others, may seem a bit loosey-goosey, it can be a very effective leadership style provided leaders give feedback and monitor performances on a regular basis. This style works well with team members who are experienced, highly-skilled and self-starters and often leads to a very high level of job satisfaction and increased productivity. On the flipside, should team members not be very good at managing their own time or if they lack a particular skill set the project requires, the work will be negatively affected.

People-Oriented/Relations-Oriented Leadership

People-oriented leaders are focused on the people: organizing, supporting and developing team members. This style of leadership breeds good teamwork and creative collaboration. Team members are treated equally by leaders and this causes members to be happier and more productive. One negative of this leadership style is that leaders often risk putting the personal development of team members before the project at hand.

Change leadership styles

Of the leadership styles listed, no one is better than the others; all have a specific time and situation in which they will be the most effective form of leadership. Great leaders are those who select their leadership styles like chefs do knives—based on what is needed at the time, and what is the best tool for the job.

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