As you probably already know from experiences managing and being managed by others, there are a lot of different leadership styles — and not every style works with every employee (or every boss). There are different ways to motivate people: Sometimes, all you have to do is share your vision in the right way; yet, others won’t be moved by grandiose visions — they’ll need something a little more concrete.
Below are three of the most common leadership styles that are frequently seen in the business world. Which type of leader are you?
The Transformational Leader
Transformational leadership is a huge buzzword in business media. While it’s easy to find articles about transformational leaders, it’s a lot harder to find them operating in the real world. The term was first coined in 1978 by James McGregor Burns in his book, Leadership. According to Burns, transformational leadership is a management system in which, “leaders and their followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation."
Above all else, transformational leaders stick to a single inspiring vision. They are able to motivate their staff to buy into their vision and thus deliver on it.
According to The Alternative Board’s Leadership Skills Business Pulse Survey, business owners are already aware of the importance of transformational leadership. Forty-six percent of the business owners surveyed agreed that the ability to accomplish goals is the most important leadership quality, and 63 percent believe a business owner's primary employee objective is to inspire action.
The takeaway: becoming a transformational leader begins with having a strategic vision. The best way to implement a strategic plan is by creating a written document that lays out your company goals for you and your employees. By setting goals, sticking to them, and achieving them, you build trust with your team. That is transformational leadership!
The Thought Leader
Thought leaders extend their leadership beyond the domain of their business, generating respect from their internal team, as well as the external market. They establish their authority and influence by representing themselves as experts in their field. Thought leaders market themselves as a way to market their business – to potential clients, potential employees, and new business-development opportunities.
Thought leaders are natural communicators, crafty marketers, and self-appointed PR professionals. They are active on social media, maintain a blog, write books, and speak at events. Their employees admire their intellect and dedication; their clients trust their insight.
What can you learn from thought leaders? You can’t just market your business. As an entrepreneur, you need to market yourself.
The Participative Leader
Participative leaders accept input from others when making decisions. This “democratic” style of leadership enlists employees to help solve company-wide issues. Transparency is key to their approach, and employees are invigorated by a sense of ownership in the company. Of course, a successful participative leader knows how to parse through the input and make the firm final decision. An unsuccessful participative leader will buckle under the pressure of too many opinions.
Every leader can benefit from some degree of participative leadership. Getting a second opinion, whether from employees or a peer advisory group like The Alternative Board, will broaden your perspective and offer solutions you may not be able to come to on your own.
The most successful business owners draw from the best of each type of leadership style and develop a unique approach that fits their unique business model. If you’re interested in implementing transformational leadership through a strategic plan, thought leadership through self-promotion, or participative leadership through peer advisory, The Alternative Board can help.
We’re committed to helping business owners become the most effective leaders they can be through our proprietary business coaching model. Get in touch with a local board to see how you can harness the power of these three leadership styles to take your business to new heights.