Leadership is a skill of its own. Motivating and managing a group of employees requires certain leadership qualities and knowledge. And even then, there are many ways to lead. How do you know which approach is best? This is not an easy question to answer. Different leaders, different situations, and different employees all require their own approach.
Before we explain what the various types of leadership styles entail and how to determine which leadership style will be most effective, we'll provide a definition of leadership. A definition of leadership could be: 'Initiating and directing activities aimed at influencing the behavior of a group of employees to achieve a predetermined goal.' But another definition of leadership is: 'Optimally utilizing, harnessing, and developing the talents of employees.'
When you look at these meanings of leadership, you can already see different approaches. The first definition mainly focuses on influencing behavior, while the second definition places the talents and potential of employees at the forefront. Which explanation you use influences how you approach leadership. It also affects your leadership style. So, it's a good idea to think about which aspects fall under leadership for you and where you emphasize your focus. This will give you more insight into which leadership style may suit you best.
Over the years, a lot has been written about leadership and which leadership styles are effective. Theory can be a good basis for developing your own leadership style. After all, a leadership style must fit you as a leader to be effective. It must also align with your team and the situation. Are you an encouraging leader? Are you a democratic leader? Or does natural leadership appeal to you more?
Some leadership styles emphasize setting a good example, while others focus more on inspiring employees. There are leadership styles in which the leader holds the reins tightly, while others give employees a lot of freedom. Within these leadership styles, there are also gradations to distinguish. Many leaders will not use a single style but will use a combination of styles. This results in a unique leadership style that fits the leader, the situation, and the team perfectly.
Over the years, many theories about leadership and leadership styles have been developed. Douglas McGregor developed the XY theory, Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard wrote about situational leadership, and Daniel Goleman identified six different emotional leadership styles. There are also many more theories related to management, leadership, or leadership styles. To give you a first idea of these theories, we'll further discuss the XY theory and situational leadership below.
The XY theory is a theory that was created in 1960 by Douglas McGregor. This theory is based on the idea that people can function in organizations in two different ways. The different ways people function also mean that they need to be led in different ways.
In theory X, McGregor assumes that employees are lazy, don't want to work, and require a lot of encouragement. In this theory, employees have little ambition, don't want responsibility, and resist change. If you as a manager adhere to this theory, you will use an authoritarian leadership style. This means you maintain tight control over what employees do, and motivation is achieved through punishment and reward.
In theory Y, McGregor describes a different type of employee. These employees enjoy working, are ambitious, and come up with new ideas on their own. Such employees need to be led in a completely different way than theory X employees. A coaching leadership style suits theory Y. Motivation is obtained through collaboration, involvement, and input.
When McGregor described his theories in the 1960s, they were groundbreaking. They provide a clear framework for understanding different types of employees and how to lead them effectively. However, nowadays, it is more common to assume that employees are somewhere between theory X and theory Y. It is, therefore, advisable to adapt your leadership style to the individual employee, team, or situation.
Situational leadership is a leadership style developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard in 1969. According to this theory, there is no single "best" leadership style. Instead, effective leadership is based on the readiness or maturity of the employees or followers.
Situational leadership suggests that leaders should adapt their leadership style to the readiness of their followers. The readiness of employees is determined by their ability and willingness to complete a task. This model identifies four leadership styles:
The idea is that as employees become more ready or mature, the leader can adopt a less directive (telling or selling) and more supportive (participating or delegating) leadership style.
These are just two examples of leadership theories and styles. There are many more, each with its own perspective on what makes a good leader and how leadership should be practiced. As a leader, it's essential to study and understand these theories and styles to develop your unique approach to leadership that suits your personality and the needs of your team.
Leadership is something where you must be flexible. By adapting your leadership style to the situation, you achieve the best results. It's also essential to develop your own leadership style. Knowing the theory is helpful, but you don't learn everything from books. That's why it's important to put it into practice when it comes to leadership. You learn the most in practice. Ask for feedback from your employees and develop leadership styles that suit you and your team best.
In addition to trying out leadership styles in practice, it's also valuable to attend leadership training. An expert can provide you with tips on the leadership style that suits you best. You'll also learn more about the differences between leadership and management. In a sales training, all essential topics related to leadership are covered. After this comprehensive training, you'll have all the knowledge about leadership, leadership qualities, and leadership styles. Moreover, you'll have practiced flexible leadership. This way, you'll know exactly how to lead effectively and achieve the best results with your entire team.
Leadership styles refer to the different ways in which leaders guide and lead their teams. Each leadership style has unique characteristics and approaches that influence the interaction between leaders and their team members.
Developing leadership skills is crucial because it helps create a positive and productive work environment. Effective leaders can motivate, guide, and inspire their teams, leading to improved performance and higher employee engagement.
There are different types of leadership styles that can be applied in various situations. Some examples include:
Each leadership style has its own advantages and disadvantages, and its effectiveness can depend on the specific situation and the needs of the team. A successful leader can be flexible and apply different leadership styles based on the circumstances and individual team members.