I think we can all agree that there are a number of different leadership styles in the workplace, within families and our social circles. But perhaps the three most discussed and well defined leadership styles are these: transformational, transactional and laissez faire (a bit of French that translates “let them do [it]”).
Transactional leaders are target-focused and systematic. They like to streamline processes and tend to have a very disciplined workforce that’s motivated by rewards and incentives. These leaders are very operational.
Although I admire these types of leaders, I sometimes have trouble building relationships with them. Being a very “people-y” people person, I find the constant focus on process and lack of flexibility frustrating at times. However, I appreciate that teams led by this type of leader can often get things done quickly and effectively.
I think this type of leader thrives with a team of likeminded, methodological people who have either a need or a like of routine. It makes me think of a robotic process, something that would suit the engineering minds among us.
By contrast, transformational leaders are visionaries who influence and motivate their teams to achieve excellence. They believe a cohesive and developed team is a successful team, and they work to facilitate collaboration. Their focus is broader than completing day-to-day duties or tasks.
This is the style of leadership that suits me best. This leader provides a lot of flexibility for personal development. Leaders in this category often have HUGE business networks and are likely to be found in human resources and recruitment departments. These leaders must be mindful that developing members of the team must not be done at the cost of productivity. If work builds up, it can cause frustration to the team as whole, especially if members must stay late or rush frantically to meet a deadline.
Finally, laissez faire leaders trust their team to effectively lead and deliver the task themselves without a lot of direction. If an issue arises, these leaders trust the team to come forward with suggestions and solutions. This leadership style works best when the person is leading a motivated, loyal and experienced team.
In my view, this approach is not always a true demonstration of leadership. While I understand that a team needs to work out its own issues and should feel comfortable approaching their team leader, that might not always happen in real life. If someone is inexperienced or a bit shy to ask for help, the problem won’t get addressed or fixed.
Of course, certain personalities do thrive under this type of leader, especially employees who have years of experience in the role. Who wants to feel micromanaged right? That’s definitely not going to be an issue with this type of leader.
With a better understanding of your own leadership style and the style that best matches your needs in the workplace, you can identify those colleagues that will help to propel you forward in your career. You might even have a better understanding of how you can admire a respective leader while not seeing eye to eye with her, and perhaps focus on the positive traits she brings to the position while understanding the limitations of your own relationship.
Stay tuned for my next blog when I plan to look at leadership styles through a different lens: women vs. men.