Have you ever had a manager who seemed to have the perfect leadership style for the job? While some leaders may naturally fit in perfectly to their industry, more often than not good leaders have had to adapt their natural leadership styles to best suit their profession. Leadership skills aren’t necessarily inherent; in fact, some of the best leaders are the ones who have purposefully learned what leadership styles mesh best with their industries and adjusted their own leadership style accordingly.
What is leadership?
Leadership is a wide-ranging concept, but at its core, it is ultimately the ability to influence others. “Ability” is the keyword, because it means that leadership can be learned and improved, and it isn’t something that you either have or don’t have. There are many different styles of leadership that can effectively influence others. Leadership styles are different approaches a person takes toward leading a group.
There are now more than a dozen different, recognized styles of leadership. Some leadership styles rely on commanding others, others focus on offering guidance, coaching, and participation, while some leave the decision making up to the group. They can all be effective in different situations.
What are the different types of leadership?
There are three broad categories of leadership approaches: trait, behavioral, and situational. Historically, most people thought of leadership as something you could see from appearances and a trait one is born with, like height or gender. However, this concept is no longer widely accepted.
Over time, people have agreed that leadership isn’t just a physical trait, and the trait theory of leadership has been replaced by other leadership approaches including behavioral and situational leadership. The behavioral approach theories of leadership are a general category that sees leadership effectiveness as reliant on the leader’s actions or behaviors. The situational approach recommends different types of leadership for different situations.
Different leadership types for different industries
Situational leaders can vary their approach depending on the people they want to lead and the given task at hand. The most successful leaders can change, and they recognize that some styles will be more effective in certain industries. Listed below are some of the most common leadership styles and the different industries where those styles will be most effective.
Coach: a coaching leader works to bring out the best in their employees through mentoring, goal setting, and motivation. A coaching leader is more interested in taking time to develop their team than getting fast results. This style works best in industries that aren’t extremely time-sensitive like certain local, state, and federal government activities or some of the non-emergency or administrative tasks that support health and social care.
Visionary: visionary leaders are bold and inspirational and can improve a company or team simply by building confidence and selling the team on new ideas. Visionary leaders are big picture, strategic thinkers who may miss details, so they need a detail-oriented team to compliment them. They work best in innovative industries like information technology and global trade.
Pacesetter: this leadership style is focused on fast results and performance. Unlike the coach, they are more interested in results than team development. They are driven to achieve high standards and to meet their goals. They can be motivational and energizing, particularly in fast-paced environments. This type of leadership is especially suited for fast-changing industries like real estate, renting, and leasing; finance and insurance; and information technology.
Servant: servant leaders are driven to elevate and take care of their team members first. They want a satisfied and fulfilled team more than they want results at any cost. Servant leaders tend to be patient, caring, and respected by their staff. These types of leaders work well in slower-moving industries like local, state, and federal government; arts and entertainment; non-profits; and education.
Democratic: democratic leaders are continually seeking input and feedback from their team. Democratic leaders rely on their team to make decisions and empower their staff to come up with creative ideas and innovative solutions. They are good discussion facilitators and information gatherers. They make well-informed decisions and make their team feel valuable. They work best in creative industries with highly skilled employees like technology; arts and entertainment; and finance.
Transformational: a transformational leader cares deeply about their team, but they are more driven to meet organizational and team goals than they are committed to developing individual employees. They respect others and command respect and seek to create a strong team morale. They have the ability to transform a whole organization and are suited for industries that rely on teams to meet organizational goals like construction; manufacturing; or corporate management.
How to implement a different leadership style?
The ability to adapt your leadership style to a specific situation, industry, or person will make you a more effective and versatile leader. It’s important to understand your current leadership style, what type of leadership your team or industry needs, and to begin practicing different approaches in different situations. Take the following steps to get started.
Ask others: one of the best ways to become an effective leader is to ask others. Ask close friends, family, and colleagues what leadership strengths and weaknesses they see in you. Additionally, ask those you want to lead the question of what inspires and motivates them. From understanding yourself and others, you can begin to tailor your leadership style to meet the needs of the situation and the person.
Continue learning: you can implement a different leadership style by first learning as much as possible about leadership. There are plenty of books and web resources available on leadership theory. Knowledge City’s course on the elements of leadership and supervision will guide you through the various styles, their relative strengths and weaknesses, and the most appropriate times to utilize them.
Take small opportunities to practice: consider practicing different leadership styles on small, manageable projects. Instead of overhauling yourself to become a visionary leader all the time, see if you can take a visionary approach to one specific project or a specific person. Becoming an adaptable leader takes practice and learning from mistakes.
Leading others can be a challenging task. By understanding the different leadership styles, and the different industries and situations where they are most effective, you can improve your ability to lead. Begin to become a better leader now with our course on the elements of leadership and supervision, which will help you more effectively lead others regardless of your industry or specific leadership style.