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To be an effective leader, one must first understand what it means to lead. There are different types of leaders, and the qualities that make a good leader can vary depending on the situation. What is essential is that a leader can adapt and respond to the needs of those they are leading.
Effective leadership takes practice, and the more experience a leader has, the better they will become at motivating and inspiring those around them. Leadership is not easy, but it is worth seeing your team succeed.
Leadership is an essential skill that everyone should have. It’s not just about being the boss; it’s also about inspiring and guiding those around you.
Throughout this post, we will discuss leadership, different types of leaders, how to develop your leadership style and skills, and steps to become a successful leader. So, whether you are just starting your career or looking to take your leadership skills to the next level, read on for everything you need to know about successful leadership!
What Is Leadership?
Leadership theory Just as there are numerous definitions of leadership, many different leadership theories exist, but at its core, leadership is about inspiring others to achieve common goals. According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus, leadership is defined as “the position of being a leader” and a leader as “a person who is in charge of a group.”
Leadership is not to be confused with authority. While leadership and authority are similar, having one does not necessarily mean someone has the other. Leadership involves a position of power, while authority is a matter of being allowed to make decisions.
How Does Leadership Work?
Leadership plays a vital role in many workplaces. Workers must have a leader that can provide direction and help direct the group. There are many different types of leaders, but the characteristics of good leadership are the same across all of them.
Good leaders develop a direction for the group to take and establish goals that move everyone forward. They then find ways to help each member work towards those goals. They hold their group members accountable by monitoring progress, but they are flexible enough to change plans.
Good leaders are constantly aware of their group’s progress and hold themselves accountable for setting the right goals. In addition, they learn from mistakes, communicate effectively with their team members, and maintain high morale throughout the process.
We can all think of great examples of leadership in our daily lives. Parents who know what’s best for their children, bosses who motivate employees to work harder, and teachers passionate about the subject they are teaching.
Leaders must continuously learn and grow to keep up with the ever-changing world.
8 Common Leadership Styles
Here are eight common types of leadership: autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire, Pacesetting, Affiliative, Authoritative, coaching, and transformational. Each type of leadership has distinct characteristics that differentiate it from the other three.
1. Autocratic Leadership
The autocratic leader is sometimes referred to as a boss. This is because he makes all the decisions and expects his orders to be carried out by his subordinates. This type of leadership is suitable in a crisis when quick decisions and decisive actions are needed to save the day.
Napoleon Bonaparte, a French military and political leader during the late 18th century, was famous for using this type of leadership – he led his troops to victories through relentless attacks that gave him an advantage over his opponents.
2. Democratic Leadership
The democratic leader allows the group to make decisions through consensus or voting. He expects his team members to cooperate in achieving their common goals. This type of leadership is best for a team with mature and responsible adults with equal status. The democratic type of leadership is suitable in situations that require team members to work together to reach a solution.
3. Laissez-faire Leadership
The laissez-faire leader abdicates his control over the group and does not exercise any form of direction or supervision. This is the least structured type of leadership where the leader lets group members do what they want with little or no intervention. The laissez-faire type is common in teams made up of members with different backgrounds. However, this type of leadership can be effective when the team consists of self-directed, competitive achievers who value personal freedom and autonomy.
Related: What is Laissez-Faire Leadership
4. Transformational Leadership
Transformational leaders focus on motivating their group by developing a vision, mission, and goal for the team. They can inspire their group members to do what is needed to achieve the set target. This type of leadership is best suited in situations where no problems or significant issues face the group. These leaders effectively get their team members to work together towards attaining common goals.
Steve Jobs, a successful American entrepreneur who co-founded Apple Inc., was famous for his transformational leadership skills – he believed in empowering others. He encouraged his team members to be creative, independent thinkers. He is behind the iMac, iPod, iTunes Store, and iPhone.
In general terms, all four leadership skills are essential for a leader. However, the kind of leadership most suitable for a particular situation varies from individual to individual and from organization to organization. It depends on several factors, including the nature of the group, its members’ values and expectations, and social-cultural aspects that influence a person’s mindset.
Coaching leaders are the ones who like to develop their employees and help them be successful. They will mentor their team and ensure that everyone has the tools to succeed. They are very supportive of their team and can be seen as patients with their employees. Coach leaders see their employees as a vital part of the company and want everyone to succeed.
Pacesetting leaders are always looking for opportunities to improve themselves and their organizations. They see the long-term goals and inspire others through their passion for the organization. They can seem a little bit pushy, but at the same time, their determination and enthusiasm are often appreciated by others.
Affiliative leaders are the ones who want to build strong relationships with their followers. They would rather have people they trust by their side than have a lot of people working for them. Therefore, they tend to be more personable and kind. In addition, affiliative leaders care about their employees’ well-being and growth, seeing them as a part of a family.
Authoritative leaders are the ones who are in control. They want to be the decision-makers all of the time and will step in when they feel that a decision needs to be made. They will also ensure that everyone is doing their part and taking charge when things aren’t planned. Authoritative leaders tend to have a solid character and sometimes be aggressive. However, they also have a lot of self-confidence and take the initiative often.
There are also many other types of leadership, For example, community leadership, religious leadership, political leadership, and leadership of campaigning groups.
What are the qualities of a good leader?
Leadership qualities should be a valuable asset to the organization or company. A good leader is responsible, respectful, and influential. A good leader will be responsible for the team they lead and ensure that everyone’s involved in what’s going on. They’ll also need to show respect to all of their teammates and coworkers, even if they might not like them at first.
Several studies have been done on what makes up a quality leader and what specific skills, characteristics, and traits they should be equipped with. Here are some of the qualities that are generally agreed upon by most people when it comes to what makes up a good leader.
1) Good Communication Skills
This is one quality that cannot go understated, as it can make or break any potential leader in the organization or company they work for. For example, suppose individuals cannot communicate well with their subordinates, peers, and superiors alike. In that case, they will not maintain a good working relationship or garner respect from those under them. Therefore, this is one of the qualities that most employers look for when choosing which individuals they want to interview for the vacant positions in their company.
The confidence of a leader impacts their subordinates, as it provides them with the motivation and drive they need to continue working towards common goals. This is one of the essential qualities of good leadership as it helps inspire those below them to give their best at what they do.
While confidence is a good trait that should be present in all leaders, it is not one of the most important qualities as there are cases where this trait can lead to overconfidence and arrogance, which could result in poor decision-making.
3) Emotional Intelligence
Quality leaders should understand and put themselves in the shoes of those under their command. This means that they should not just rely on reports but also meet face-to-face with those under them and those reporting to them to better judge their feelings and emotions.
They should also be aware of how they were feeling at specific times to get to know their people better. This is an essential quality for any good leader because it allows them to work more efficiently and interact with their subordinates differently.
Another quality of good leaders is that they should be open-minded and ready to put in the time and effort to adapt to changes and work efficiently in any environment. This means that if their superiors decide to change the direction of a particular project, they should not just reject it but be willing and able to adapt to accomplish the original goal better or finish the task at hand. They should also be ready and willing to accept feedback from their superiors and adjust their goals, plans, or methods if they see that it is necessary.
This quality goes hand-in-hand with confidence in increasing productivity and morale among subordinates. This means that a leader should not just be passionate about what they do to succeed in the industry or organization they are serving in but also inspire those below them to feel the same way when working towards common goals. They should also communicate this passion well enough to entice others to join their cause and achieve their vision for the future.
A good leader should be flexible regarding change and how people react to these changes. They should be open to the fact that not all decisions and plans will work well, and there will be times when they need to change these up to succeed eventually. This means that a good leader should also handle failure and setbacks, admit their mistake,s and learn from them instead of disregarding information that does not fit their current plans or goals.
A quality leader should always maintain their integrity above everything else, as it is one of the essential qualities for those who want to rise through the ranks. Leaders should always make sure that their subordinates know that they can trust them by maintaining a solid work ethic, being transparent about new policies or plans, and always upholding their words. This is crucial because it ensures that those under them put in the effort and do what they can, but also that those reporting to them will be able to trust this person to guide them down the right path.
A good leader does more than handle critical matters on paper or behind closed doors. They are friendly towards those under them, which allows them to bond with others personally while also being able to work with them towards common goals. They should also establish rapport with those above them to ensure they are included in the decision-making process and say insignificant matters.
A quality leader is one who not only has an idea of where they are going but also how this idea will come to fruition. This means that they should be able to set specific goals for themselves, subordinates, and superiors based on precise measures of success. They should also be aware of what is happening around them to decide their plans or directions accordingly.
Qualities of good leaders include integrity, passion, flexibility/adaptability, communication skills, vision/ambition, personability, and confidence. These qualities tend to be most important when formulating a positive work environment.
List of the main leadership characteristics:
- Intelligence and firm discipline make him a good planner who can find innovative solutions to problems.
- Ability to develop a clear business strategy that includes subordinate’s tasks, tactics, and objectives
- The resolute voice makes him authoritative.
- Strong self-confidence that makes him confident in his decisions, even if they are unpopular
- Assertiveness gives him the courage to take risks in critical situations.
- Strong communication skills and charisma make him influential in front of people and give him a solid public presence which attracts more supporters.
- Ability to work in a team, be flexible and open-minded.
Related: Charismatic Leadership
Leadership vs. Management
We receive questions from people seeking to know if they should be managers or leaders. The truth is that both of these titles are important, and the distinction between them is less dark than many people believe. Without one, you can’t have the other.
The following is a list of key differences between managers and leaders:
- A good manager focuses on day-to-day management like processes, tools, technologies, and measures to drive predictable performance. A leader focuses on the people, ideas, and energy to drive extraordinary performance.
- Managers and leaders make decisions differently: managers focus on minimizing error, whereas leaders focus on maximizing opportunity.
- A manager controls; a leader inspires. The two words sound similar, but they couldn’t be more different in how people work with them.
- A manager typically manages employees; a leader often works with people outside the organization, for example, clients or community members.
- Management is about rationality; leadership is grounded in our emotions—in what moves us.
- Managers are accountable for delivering results; leaders are responsible for developing others.
- A manager’s approach is generally “What’s in it for me?“; a leader thinks, “How can I best serve you?”
Where does your organization need more management or leadership? You will probably agree that both are important.
Management is about getting things done through people, while leadership inspires others to get things done. A manager focuses on processes, rigor, and results, whereas a leader focuses on people, relationships, and possibilities.
Both need each other to succeed. But you can’t be effective at leading if you can’t manage your way out of the proverbial paper bag. Conversely, your management skills will go unrewarded and produce poor results if you do not have a leadership mindset.
Related: Organizational Leadership
Avoid these Mistakes To become a Successful leader
Below we list down some of the significant mistakes unsuccessful leaders make, and you have to avoid them to have strong leadership ability.
1. Avoid leading by the lowest common denominator
Leaders who use an autocratic approach can succeed if their employees are less skilled, but this isn’t how leaders should operate in the modern world. Instead, successful leaders know that it makes sense to empower their employees, give them the ability to make decisions, and let them take responsibility for their work.
2. Don’t adopt a command-and-control style
This old-fashioned approach, which focuses on giving orders while ignoring the contributions of others, is less effective in today’s fast-paced environment. Instead, successful leaders understand that they need to listen to ideas, get everybody’s opinions, and then find a way for their employees to work together.
3. Don’t micromanage
Leaders who are unable or unwilling to trust their employees will try to oversee every move, but it can be challenging for workers in this environment to do their best work. Unfortunately, micromanagement is a typical leadership misstep; many leaders may not even realize that they’re doing it.
4. Don’t ignore the importance of vision and strategy
Successful leaders know that these factors are fundamental to the success of their business or organization, and they won’t try to reduce them as much as possible as if they were a distraction. Instead, effective leaders take the time to map out a vision and then create strategies that support it; there’s no room for lazy or confused leadership here.
5. Don’t fail to empower your employees
Leaders who focus on themselves, who don’t care about empowering their people, will struggle in today’s business environment; they’ll be seen as ineffective by today’s employees, who expect to be valued and included. So while you don’t need to hand over the reins, letting your people contribute can go a long way toward making them feel more engaged in their work.
6. Don’t focus too much on structure and process at the expense of results
In some organizations, company procedures and policies can detract from the ultimate goal of getting results. Under such circumstances, leaders must focus on outcomes and not just adherence to bureaucratic requirements. Moreover, today’s workers typically expect that they’ll be empowered and supported in their work; rigid, unresponsive organizations will suffer at their hands.
7. Avoid a lack of transparency
Successful leaders know that sharing good and bad news information is crucial to building trust with their employees. Organizational transparency can also help leaders avoid becoming isolated from the people who work below them.
8. Don’t use fear as a motivator
Some leaders try to motivate their people by scaring them into action or working harder than before. This approach can seem like a good idea at first since it seems to work, but fear-based motivation will backfire over time. Remember that: employees afraid of you won’t be as productive as those who feel trusted and respected.
9. Don’t forget the value of communication
It’s hard to overstate how vital communication skills are for a leader. If you can’t communicate, it’s impossible to get buy-in from the people who work with you; if they don’t know your goals and objectives, why should they try to help you accomplish them? Successful leaders understand the power of communication and won’t make underestimate it.
10. Don’t forget to create a positive work culture
Employees who don’t enjoy their jobs will not do their best work, and they’re unlikely to stick around for long; they’ll vote with their feet and find someplace else to work if they can. On the other hand, successful leaders know that creating a positive company culture is vital in drawing in the best talent; they won’t take this for granted.
How to become a good leader?
Being a good leader is not just something you are; it’s something you become. And to become one, here are 10 things you need to do.
1. Lead by example
As a leader, you always set an example for people to follow. Your subordinates may not immediately understand why they should do things the right way or follow best practices right away. Still, if they see that you are practicing what you preach, it becomes easier to realize why this is important.
2. Don’t be afraid to take the lead
You can’t expect your subordinates to act or do something if you are not doing those things yourself. If you want them to follow your lead, you have to show them that you’re willing and able to go where they cannot yet go. When no one knows how to swim and everyone is afraid of the water, it’s one of the best times to take the lead so they can see you can float.
3. Be firm but fair
Nobody likes a pushover leader. They are hesitant to admit their mistakes which are sometimes even worse because nobody wants to be second-guessed or judged by someone who gives everyone an easy pass. But be careful not to cross the line into being too tough or harsh because this could lead to you losing people along the way.
4. Take risks
Being a leader means you have to put yourself out there and take calculated risks, especially if your position demands it of you. People don’t want a leader who always plays it safe and never wants to try new things. They want a leader who can maximize their efforts, take advantage of opportunities they cannot miss, and not waste time with the bit of stuff because there’s nothing they can do about it anyway.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
You don’t know everything there is to know about running your department, leading your team, or managing people. That’s why you need your subordinates to step up and take the lead when they can. If you never admit that you don’t have all the answers, then no one will ever be able to show you how it’s done.
6. Listen more, talk less
As a good leader, you need to listen. It’s not easy to see this when you’re in the thick of it all, but frequently, your subordinates have good ideas that are worth listening to. They may not be playing with a full deck or have enough experience, but their views are still valid and shouldn’t just be dismissed because you think you know better.
7. Always be approachable
Do not let your authority get in the way of people stopping by or coming to your office with a quick question or concern. Your subordinates and colleagues should feel free and safe enough to go and talk to you, even if it’s something small like asking about what’s for lunch. There’s no bigger turn-off than a leader who has their door closed all the time and never lets anyone in to talk to them, even if it’s to say “hi.”
8. Be honest with your people
Leaders should always tell their people what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear. Of course, there will be times when you have to give someone bad news or tell them that they’re doing something wrong, but this is the only way to understand their mistakes and learn how not to repeat them in the future.
9. Don’t take things personally
One of the essential skills one needs to lead others is emotional intelligence. If you can’t take things in stride when people are trying to test your limits, pushing your buttons, or probing for weaknesses, no one will ever want to work with you or talk to you.
10. It’s all about them
As a leader, it’s not about what you want but rather what the people you’re leading need and want. It’s about what challenges they face, what opportunities lie before them, and what obstacles stand in the way that stops them from achieving greatness. Your goal as a leader is to figure out your people’s needs and expectations so you can do whatever it takes to help them get more of what they want.
Related: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
How to find your leadership style?
Although all of these styles can work for companies, not every style is appropriate for every person. In addition, some people might be more comfortable with one of these leadership styles than others, and some may not fit into any leadership styles listed. So how do you find your unique style of leadership? Here are some ideas below!
1) Identify the type of leader you admire most and why
You can gain inspiration for your leadership style by observing the leaders you admire most. Take some time to think about them; why did you admire them? What did they do that made their leadership style effective?
2) Choose a leadership style that fits your personality best
Think about what type of leader you are by nature; are you more of a leader who likes to take charge when things aren’t going according to plan, or do you want to take on more of a supportive role? Are you more interested in what is best for the team or in what is best for the organization?
3) Look at your past experiences
You can also gain insight into leadership styles by looking back at the past experiences you’ve had. For example, you may have been in a situation where you had to step up and take control over a difficult situation, or perhaps you supported a friend through a tough time. Then, think about how those experiences helped you grow as a leader in the future.
4) Get feedback
One of the best ways to learn about your leadership style is by asking for advice and input from others. For example, you can ask your coworkers, friends, family members, or mentors.
5) Look to the future
Think about how you want to lead in the future and where you see yourself in five or ten years. How do you want to grow as a leader? What kind of leader do you want to be?
These are just some ideas to think about as you try to find your leadership style. Remember, there is no “right” way to lead, so it is up to you to figure out what kind of leadership fits your personality best.
Related: 16 Leadership Styles
It is crucial to understand what it means to be a leader. What qualities make someone a good leader? How can one become better at being a leader? There are many different types of leaders, and the qualities that make them successful will vary depending on their situation.
No matter which type you identify with or how effective you think your leadership skills are, there is always room for improvement. We’ve provided some valuable headings above to help increase your knowledge about this topic.
Don’t forget to share this article with others who may want to learn more about leading!