question - what kind of leader are you

As an effective personal leader, you should regularly perform a self-evaluation to reflect on the type of leader you are and decisions you have made. Doing this will help you  determine if your leadership is aligned with your values, vision, and long-term goals.

Take a look at leadership types outlined below. What leadership style do you resemble most? Is that style the one you are striving for? If not, now is a good time to reflect on the type of leader you are striving to be and the leadership characteristics that embody this type of leader.

While different leadership styles fit different people, there are some definite characteristics to avoid. For additional leadership terms and philosophies, check out an exhaustive list at

Types of Leadership

1. Authoritarian

This is “extreme leadership” (and not necessarily in a good way). An autocratic leader leads by exerting power or authority over others. This type of leader is often more feared and resented than respected. Employees working under this type of boss often feel uneasy contributing ideas and working as a team. This type of leader often experiences high employee turnover rates and rates of absenteeism.

2. Bureaucratic

This type of leader is very “by the book.” This can be a good thing if you are in an industry with safety risks (medical, chemical, dangerous trades) or when you are working with large amounts of money (accounting, finance, auditing). However, due to lack of flexibility, bureaucratic leaders in other fields can stifle team creativity and inhibit progress and growth.

3. Charismatic

A charismatic leader is often enthusiastic and motivating to his or her team. While this in and of itself is not a bad thing, it is often accompanied by a large ego. This type of leader is prone to put self ahead of the team or project. To this leader’s followers, success is synonymous with the leader, and, unfortunately, when the leader fails or walks away, the entire organization often crumbles due to a leadership vacuum.

4. Laissez-Faire

This type of leader leaves team members to do as they wish, giving employees autonomy and freedom to work as a team. This “meh” leadership can work only if the leader pays attention to the progress being made on achieving goals and regularly conveys the information to team members. While this leadership type can work beautifully if team members are experienced self-starters, it can backfire when the opposite is true or the manager is not controlling the work situation.

5. People-Oriented

A people-oriented (or relations-oriented) leader is dedicated to developing individual members of the team to reach their full potential. This cultivates an environment of collaboration and teamwork. However, when this approach is over-implemented, the result can be a failure to achieve team goals. Balance this approach with task-oriented leadership for a more successful outcome.

6. Servant

According to the Greenleaf Foundation of Servant-Leadership, who’s founder Robert Greenleaf defined the term in the 1970’s, servant leaders may or may not be formally recognized in leadership positions within an organization. This person leads by personal example, a strong code of ethics, active listening, and trust. He or she has the ability to meet the needs of team members in order to make each individual, as well as the team as a whole, successful. Some believe that servant leaders get left behind in competitive situations, while others view these strong values and ideals as a powerful way to get ahead professionally and generally in life.

7. Task-Oriented

Similar to an autocratic leader in some respects, a task-oriented leader is focused on one thing…getting the job done. This type of leader is highly-structured and organized. Often, these types of leaders give little attention to the needs of team members, which can result in low motivation, deflated morale, and high turnover. However, when balanced with people-oriented leadership qualities, these leaders can be very successful.

8. Transactional

This type of leadership is based on the idea that team members agree to wholly comply with the leadership when they agree to take the job. In exchange for compliance and performing work to the appropriate standard, team members are paid (hence, the transaction). A transactional leader would offer employees little room for improved job satisfaction. Motivation and punitive action are utilized to encourage better productivity. Sounds exciting, right? This pseudo-leadership is more like management. It stifles creativity and motivation but is currently very common in the workplace.

9. Transformational

Like a charismatic leader, this type of leader inspires and motivates his or her team through a shared vision of future success. These leaders are very visible and involved, but unlike charismatic leaders, they are not in it for themselves. Instead, communication and delegation are utilized to ensure success and team participation. While transformational leaders can be extremely valuable, the fate of an organization does not hinge on their existence.

The type of leadership you embody will depend on a number of factors, including your industry, personality, and organizational culture. A good leader can naturally transition from one leadership style to the next depending on the situation. By having flexibility and practicing the positive characteristics of various leadership styles, you can develop the type of leadership needed to be successful in your career, family, and community.

Cleveland Leadership Development Training

Do you need help developing effective personal leadership skills? Leadership Excellence offers a variety of options to fit your needs. Our Cleveland business coaching, organizational leadership development, and other resources give you the tools needed to be your personal and professional best. Contact us today for more information.

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