Allen Woo offers insight into the most common leadership styles

How you finish the sentence “a good leader should always…” could reveal a lot about your leadership style. Leadership is a fluid practice. Leaders are always moving forward and improving the way they help their direct reports and the company grow. And the longer you lead, the more likely you are to change the way you choose to complete the previous sentence. Allen Woo, an expert on workplace relationships, dives deeper into the topic by providing some of the most common types of leadership found in today’s workplace.

To become better leaders of tomorrow, you need to know where you stand today. To help you understand the impact each type of leader has on a company, Woo set out to explain some of the most common types of leadership styles in play today and how effective they are.

First, democratic leadership is what it sounds like. It is a leader who takes input from all members of the team and makes decisions. While the leader makes the final decision about the direction of the project, all employees have equal rights.

Woo states, “Democratic leadership is one of most effective styles of leadership because it allows lower-level employees the ability to exercise authority they will need to use wisely for future positions. It also mirrors the way decisions are made in company board meetings.”

A democratic leader could give options to the board at a company meeting. The leaders could then have a discussion about each option. This leader could then take into consideration the comments and thoughts of the board. Or, they could vote on this decision.

The opposite of democratic leadership, autocratic leadership is called dictatorship. This leadership style is where the leader decides without any input from others. The leader does not consult employees before giving direction. They expect their employees to follow the leader’s instructions at the specified time and pace.

An example of this might be when a manager changes shift hours for several employees without consulting anyone, especially the affected employees. According to Woo’s criteria, this style of leadership is a disaster. Most organizations today cannot sustain a hegemonic culture without losing employees. “It is better to keep leadership more open to the intellect and perspective of the rest of the team,” he adds.

If you remember your high school French, you’ll accurately assume that laissez-faire leadership is the least intrusive form of leadership. The French term “laissez-faire” literally translates as “let them do it,” and leaders who adopt it give almost all authority to their employees.

In a startup, for example, you might see a laissez-faire founder who doesn’t set major office policies around work hours or deadlines. They might fully trust their employees while focusing on the overall running of the company’s administration.

While laissez-faire leadership can empower employees by trusting them to work the way they want, Woo points out that “it can limit their development and overlook critical opportunities for company growth. Therefore, it’s important to keep this leadership style in check.”

As strategic leaders, they are at the intersection of a company’s core operations with its growth opportunities. The executive’s burden is shared by the leader while maintaining stability for all employees.

This leadership style is desirable in many companies as it supports multiple types of employees. Leaders who do this can create a dangerous precedent about how many people they can support at once and what direction the company should go if everyone is getting their way.

Transactional leaders are also quite common. These managers are known for rewarding their employees for the hard work they do.

Transactional leadership is when a marketing team receives a bonus for generating a certain amount of leads each quarter. You may be offered an incentive plan to help you quickly master your job tasks when you begin a job under a transactional boss.