Leaders inspire and guide others to achieve a common goal, such as service excellence. Certain people are natural leaders thanks to their charisma and personality, but leadership is also a pattern of behaviour that can be learned.
The two most basic leadership styles are autocratic and democratic:
- Leaders with an autocratic style tend to be independent. They take decisions, exercise control and direct others to achieve their goals without much consultation. Men are more likely to have an autocratic style than women leaders.
- Leaders with a democratic style tend to be interdependent. They take control but ask for input from the group and involve the group in making decisions and assigning tasks. They guide rather than direct people. Women leaders are more likely to have a democratic style than men.
Experts have defined many other leadership styles.
Daniel Goleman proposed the first six leadership styles listed below. MindTools added the last five:
- Commanding: insisting on instant compliance
- Visionary: propelling people towards a vision
- Affiliative: creating harmony and emotional connection
- Democratic: building consensus through participation
- Pacesetting: expecting excellence and self-direction
- Coaching: developing people for the future
- Bureaucratic: focusing on following rules
- Charismatic: inspiring enthusiasm and motivating others
- Task-oriented: focusing only on getting the job done
- People-oriented: concentrating on organising, supporting and developing people
- Transformational: expecting the best from everyone and themselves
Solberg made this finding with a study of 917 managers in Norway in 2013. Women enjoy greater equality in Norway than in most other countries, and are well represented in leadership.
Solberg’s finding highlights the fact that leadership can be learned. Also that good leaders adapt and switch leadership styles to suit the circumstances. Even so, women leaders tend to value compassion and fairness more highly than men.
What makes a good leader?
No matter what their leadership style is, good leaders share distinct characteristics, including:
- Passion for their organisation or cause
- Ability to make difficult decisions
- Strong values
- Good judgement
- Persuading others to strive for the same goals
How to become a leader in people development
To become a great leader who succeeds and takes others with you, you need to develop these qualities:
- Leading by example