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Which Leadership Style Is Right for You?

Nearly all employees will take on leadership roles at various points in their careers. Even the most junior employees may be tasked with leading teams or directing meetings. Although it is known that one’s approach to leadership can substantially affect the success of a project or team, no single approach always works best. Good leaders know to adjust their approach to meet the needs of their co-workers or subordinates and the demands of the work being done.

If you are seeking to hone your leadership skills, La Salle University’s Master of Business Administration, Management Specialization online program offers a comprehensive curriculum that prepares students for managerial roles.

Leadership Styles to Consider

Listed below are five leadership styles that can work well under the right circumstances.

Democratic Leadership: This style invites participation and a wide range of perspectives. It can be especially effective when one needs to find creative solutions. The democratic leader solves problems by recognizing that no one person has all the answers. To be effective, though, democratic leadership must go beyond lip service.  Buy-in can only occur when workers know their ideas were truly taken into consideration.

This approach may not be ideal when decisions need to be made quickly. But democratic leadership can be a great motivator for less-experienced workers who are not used to having their views taken into consideration. And it recognizes that the people doing the work often know more than the leader does about the best approach to take.

Laissez-Faire Leadership: Taking a hands-off approach to leadership goes against what many MBA graduates learn in business school. Indeed, clocking out as employees continue working can be seen as more of a form of anti-leadership. Yet, more subtle forms of laissez-faire policies can be highly effective in certain circumstances. Examples of this may include allowing flextime or the freedom to work from home. As long as employees meet deadlines and provide high quality results, the thinking goes, rigid work structures are not needed.

When deadlines are looming or employees are fairly new to the job, this easygoing approach may not produce the desired results. When workers are well-trained and highly motivated, however, empowering employees with laissez-faire leadership can keep them engaged and free them to find their own solutions.

Coach-Style Leadership: As in sports, the aim of a coach-minded leader is group performance. Leaders who follow this approach help individual members improve their performance by finding ways to motivate them. Meetings that emphasize employee input and constructive feedback are a commonly used tool in this leadership style.

Everyone can benefit from the occasional pep talk. Teamwork is an important component in any productive workplace, but focusing too much on group performance can cause leaders to lose sight of the individual needs of their workers. The merits of coach-style leadership have made the approach popular among managers in recent years.

Transactional Leadership: These leaders rely heavily on monitoring performance, both to manage by exception and to provide contingent rewards. When managing by exception, leaders monitor employee performance to identify problem areas and then step in to provide assistance when needed. That assistance can take different forms, such as advice, clearer goals, more resources or better training.

Employees who are able to perform well then receive rewards for their work. Such contingent rewards are not necessarily monetary. For instance, strong performance might be rewarded with more interesting work assignments, more challenge, better schedules or simply compliments or a chance to work more independently.   

Transactional leadership can be a useful tool for any leader. Those who use contingent rewards tend to be viewed as highly effective and have especially motivated employees.

Transformational Leadership: In this style, leaders don’t settle for simply getting people to do their assigned work. Rather they seek to inspire others to go “above and beyond” and to continuously develop and grow. These leaders tend to be effective at communicating big ideas, often by appealing to the values and ideals that their followers hold dear.

The best transformational leaders are inspirational, challenge others to think harder and be creative, and lead by personal example. Businesses undergoing growth or significant change can especially benefit from the characteristics of these visionary leaders. For jobs that rely on repetition or daily regimens, this leadership style may be less effective.

Explore Leadership Styles Through La Salle’s Online MBA, Management Specialization Online

La Salle University’s MBA programs cover a wide range of leadership perspectives so graduates can apply those theories in the workplace. Our MBA, Management Specialization online degree program includes faculty-taught courses that cover management, conflict and negotiations, workplace rights and other leadership-related topics.

Learn more about La Salle University’s Master of Business Administration, Management Specialization online program.


Indeed: 10 Common Leadership Styles (With Examples)

Hubspot: The 8 Most Common Leadership Styles and How to Find Your Own

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