Leaders come in all shapes and sizes with different skill sets and with varying degrees of success. That being said, there are some classic models and leadership styles including Charismatic, Inspirational, Transformational, Transactional, Autocratic, Laissez-Faire, and Democratic. Most leaders are a combination of a couple of these types.
The Charismatic Leader
A charismatic leader is one whose personality carries the day. The charisma is so great that people are mesmerized into following this person. The challenge with this type of leader is that although most have good intentions, there is also the “dark side con man” version who is quite toxic. Think about all the cult leaders who inspired people to follow them to their own detriment.
The Inspirational Leader
The inspirational leader leads those to believe in something bigger than themselves. Inspiration is the ability to engage people to do something or achieve something they previously did not believe was possible. The followers become inspired by the vision being communicated and will often push themselves to contribute to a successful outcome.
The Transformational Leader
The transformational leader seeks to completely change things. It could be the people or the overall organization that they are driven to turn into something different. Their “change approach” can be inspiring as well, but fundamentally it is about change.
The Transactional Leader
A transactional leader is one in which everything is a “give/get” equation – I do this for you, you pay me “x.” You will see this in the military or organizations with very clear rules and regulations and lines of demarcation.
The Autocratic Leader
An autocratic leader is all about power. This goes to dictator level when leadership is all about the leader and their agenda. This type of leader tells people to do things “because I said so” and thrives on being in charge. Power is their tonic.
The Laissez-Faire Leader
Laissez-Faire leaders are those who are laid back and typically let things run on their own. It’s the opposite of micromanagement. This can be effective in highly proficient “expert” organizations with highly skilled or trained staff – scientists, attorneys, doctors, accountants, financial professionals, architects, engineers, etc. It will not work with the new employee who is trying to figure out what success looks like and needs more structure.
The Democratic Leader
The Democratic leadership style is what most of us are familiar with – this is where decisions are made that include and respect input. Employees feel they have some ability to give feedback. There is still one person who makes the final decision in most cases but “we’re all in this together” is the leadership style.
Different circumstances and environments call for different leadership approaches and one size does not fit all situations or leaders. Millennials want inspirational leadership, but also want a say in what happens and often need help showing them how to be successful. It’s okay to strive to be an inspirational leader, just know you may need more skills in your leadership tool kit for other types of employees. Know that it’s okay to create a leadership style that works for you, as long as you are authentic. Stay in the lane that is natural for you and you’ll develop a loyal following, regardless of your style.