Maria Bellissimo-Magrin

Are you stuck in a rut when it comes to motivating your team? Explore the best leadership style for your business.

We all know people who are natural born leaders. They’re the ones to whom others instinctively gravitate, gathering followers like paper clips to a magnet. When it comes to business, their influence can be extremely powerful, not only on the people they lead, but on the company’s bottom line. So what’s the difference between being a great leader and not merely a manager?

Although it seems logical that a manager will automatically be a leader, this isn’t always the case in the business world. Of course, you can have a management title and still be a leader but there’s a difference between being called a manager and actually being a manager. Poor managers are more interested in wielding their “power” and maintaining their place in the hierarchy, whereas great managers are facilitators.

A leader brings something different altogether to the table. A leader need not be in a senior position – they can lead based on their abilities and strengths, instead of constrained by their job title. A respected leader works for the mutual benefit and inspiration of all, and encourages leadership from others in the process.

Successful leadership helps the bottom line

The leadership style employed by a business contributes to as much as 30% of the profits, according to a study from the Harvard Business Review. Rather than continuing to invest in efficiency and productivity in order to increase the bottom line, better results could come from fluidity in leadership styles.
Understanding the different styles of leadership and adapting them to suit your business could yield the same or better results as compared to implementing new processes and complicated cost-saving regimes.

Of the businesses they reviewed, the HBR study found several clear styles of leadership that each had varying effects. See how your business can benefit by mixing them up.

Six styles of leadership

The leadership types found by the HBR were: Affiliative, Authoritative, Coaching, Coercive, Democratic and Pacesetting.

Affiliative leaders cultivate loyalty with their ‘people-first’ culture that focuses on a sense of belonging. When stress levels are high and trust is low, this is the leadership style that works. It uses praise and a nurturing attitude to lift the team, but be aware – excessive use can cause a lack of initiative and direction, based on a fear of missing out on praise.

Authoritative leaders drive the team forward with goals and individual targets to aim for. This style works with autonomous teams that thrive on initiative. It fosters and inspires entrepreneurialism and enthusiasm for individual and team success, but can create friction if technical teams are asked to “follow me” by someone with less experience or expertise.

Coaching leaders focus on personal development to inspire their team. They are great mentors with encouraging personalities who constantly motivate and embolden individuals to build on their personal strengths. This is a good fit for most environments but can be ineffective with legacy teams and people resistant to change.

Coercive leaders are most effectively as managers in crisis situations or as a last attempt to control a loose cannon. Their imposing “do as I say, I’m the boss” attitude can be counterproductive and should be avoided in situations where intuition and creativity are valued, but their style can be effective when applied wisely.

Democratic leaders focus on team buy-in, participation and personal ownership. This academic style works best with experienced teams but should be used with restraint when dealing with new teams or when projects have strict deadlines.

Pacesetting leaders can make already-motivated teams fly! They lead by example, but if the leader is a naturally intense personality, their style can be overwhelming if used excessively.

Mix and match

Just as business teams are not static, stagnant entities, neither should leadership styles be. As your team changes, so should your management strategies, to respond to their current needs.

Some situations will require a softer touch, with more inspiration and encouragement, while other times the best leadership will mean a strict guidance and an iron fist. The path to business success is constantly being built, and being flexible with your leadership style and motivation techniques will ensure you are laying solid foundations

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