If you’ve been in the job market a while, you probably have had good and bad managers. As you’ve grown in your career to become a leader in your organization, you’ve probably learned both good and bad lessons from all of the managers you’ve encountered. This made you into the leader you are today. There are all kinds of management and leadership styles. Some are good, some are terrible, but all have a distinct flavor and impact on the work we do. What kind of leadership styles are there, and what are the pros and cons of these approaches?

Common Leadership Styles

Let’s start with one of the most common leadership styles. The transactional leader has a basic give and take approach to management. Their approach is: I give you this so that you will do this in return. Typically, these types of leaders have a system of metrics, rewards, and penalties for what they perceive to be good and bad employee behavior.

Pros: This is a good approach for a workforce with a lower technical aptitude or educational level. It takes away any confusion around what task is next, what the goals are, and why you’re doing the work.
Cons: You can stifle innovation and creativity with this approach. High-end knowledge workers will reject this approach as micromanagement.

Transformational leadership is almost the opposite of a transactional leader. A transformational leader seeks to create a vision that will inspire employees to innovate their way to the future-state. These leaders empower and inspire teams to do their best work and look for suggestions from employees on how to improve.

Pros: These leaders can inspire others to do their best work. It’s a trust-building approach that rallies workers around a shared goal.
Cons: In large bureaucracies, this approach may threaten entrenched managers who are invested in how things have always been.

The servant leader believes their mission is to lead others by serving a mission or goal greater than themselves. Their efforts include finding more ways to help others achieve their goals. These leaders often prioritize the mission or the needs of other people over their own. Ultimately, their goal is to create an environment where everyone achieves success.

Pros: This approach can be an inspiration to others and can create a more positive company culture.

Cons: This is a challenging approach to sustain when you put your own needs, wants, and priorities on the back burner to pursue a goal greater than yourself.

A participatory leader approaches their management role as a democracy. They emphasize collaboration and allow other members of the team to make decisions that guide the organization. These types of leaders ask for input for their teams and value innovative, forward-thinking ideas over all else in the organization.

Pros: Democratic leaders have high worker engagement and overall job satisfaction in their organizations.
Cons: While ideas are great, these leaders can’t lose sight that building consensus among a group can be time-consuming and slow things down.

So, what kind of a leader are you? IES works with leaders of all types, placing them in work environments that fit their preferred styles. Talk with our team about what’s next in your career. Contact us today.

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