Technological advancements, shifts in consumer behavior, and new-age work approach have ushered in a new era of business. Leaders’ ability to adapt to changing circumstances, inspire teams, and make ethical decisions is more critical now than ever.
In this piece, we’ll delve into several innovative leadership styles that are gaining prominence in corporate circles. Let’s dive in.
Types of Leadership Styles
1. Situational Leadership
Situational leadership model, developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, emphasizes the need for leaders to adapt their style to the specific situation and the work approach of their team members. This type of leadership demands the leaders to be flexible and responsive. For instance, during times of crisis, leaders may need to adopt a more directive approach, while in periods of stability, a more delegative style may be appropriate.
Situational leaders often divert from long-term strategies and policies to incorporate the needs of the hour. The leaders evaluate the employees’ Performance Readiness level (their ability or willingness to perform the tasks).
2. Transformational Leadership
Unlike situational leadership which has an instantaneous impact, transformational leaders inspire and motivate their teams to achieve exceptional success over a long time period. Transformational leaders are adept at guiding their organizations through periods of significant change, such as digital transformations or mergers and acquisitions, by inspiring employees to embrace new ideas and approaches.
Four main elements define the transformational leadership model. Researcher Barnard M. Bass outlined these factors in his research paper entitled From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision (1990) to demonstrate how to be successful as a transformational leader.
3. Servant Leadership
Servant leadership centers around the idea that leaders should serve their team members, rather than the other way around. This approach emphasizes empathy, humility, and a commitment to the well-being of employees. This leadership style seeks to achieve the organizational vision by providing strong support to employees. In turn, this encourages employees to give their best and even contribute to the decision-making process.
In an era of heightened focus on work culture, servant leadership fosters a positive work environment, promotes employee satisfaction, and enhances organizational ethics. This is a bottom-up empowerment approach where the leaders focus on building their team members’ self-confidence, decision-making abilities, and collaboration skills.
4. Leading from Behind
Introduced by Nelson Mandela in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, leading from behind involves empowering and supporting team members to take the lead. This leadership style can be highly effective in fostering employee autonomy and creativity. By leading from behind, leaders encourage their teams to take ownership of their work, leading to increased engagement and innovation.
This is a collaborative process wherein diverse problem-solving efforts are brought to the table. Instead of a hands-on approach, the leaders provide resources and ideas to enable the team to contribute meaningfully. Lack of direction is a major concern in this approach. Therefore, it’s crucial for leaders to set a vision and communicate clear goals to the team.
5. Leading from the Middle
Leading from the middle involves balancing the vision of upper management with the activity of frontline employees. Leaders in the middle of the organizational hierarchy act as bridges, facilitating communication and collaboration. They are responsible for ensuring that strategic goals are effectively implemented throughout the organization.
As opposed to the common assumption, such a leadership is not simply about maintaining a water fountain model and the leaders are supposed to offer more than simply conveying the upper management’s message to the team. Sometimes the board has varied priorities. In these situations, the organization is led from the middle. The leaders can provide on-the-ground insights and contribute to redefining strategies and objectives.
6. Adaptive Leadership
Adaptive leadership involves responding effectively to unforeseen challenges and disruptions. Leaders who embrace this style are quick to assess and adapt to changing circumstances. During times of crisis or uncertainty, adaptive leaders remain calm, make informed decisions, and guide their teams through adversity. This resilience is essential for survival and long-term growth.
This leadership approach involves diagnosing, redirecting, and innovating as a means of creating opportunities aligning with the dynamic market needs. The framework has three key components:
- Take Calculated Risks
Learning from mistakes & rolling with the punches
- Results-Driven Approach
Monitoring the impact of initiatives and optimizing future plan
- Develop Sustainable Strategy
Find potential in every challenge to drive organizational success
7. Pacesetting Leadership
Pacesetting leaders often set ambitious standards and expect the team members to deliver high quality outputs from employees. With a preference for speed and efficiency, the leaders have a results-driven approach.
On the positive side, such leaders usually are hands-on and they might step in to ensure things are done correctly and on time. This gives a push to employee performance and boosts team morale. Experienced and motivated teams often thrive under this sort of leadership.
However, on the flip side, pacesetting leaders can sometimes create a high-stress work environment. Unrealistic goals can demotivate and overwhelm teams which can lead to burnout and a sense of failure. Rushing after meeting targets may also stifle creativity and innovation.
How to Choose the Right Leadership Style
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to determining a leadership style. Figuring out which style brings out the best in your team is essential. Also, leadership style is not a constant approach, depending on team members, situations, and organizational objectives, the leaders can blend various styles and meet the goals.
Authored by Soumi Bhattacharya
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