Types of Leadership

4 Types Of Leadership Styles And How To Make The Most Of Them

You may be well-versed on the topic of leadership skills, but how much do you know about types of leadership? “Every leader has the potential to be a good leader and a bad leader – for you, for your team, for your organization. Understanding and learning is key,” says Amy Feind Reeves, the founder and CEO of JobCoachAmy, a Boston-based consultancy for professionals.”

As a professional, knowing about leadership types can help you in two ways: Understanding your teammates and boss more effectively, and understanding yourself when you lead — both of which are important for your success in the workplace.

For example, acclimating to someone’s leadership style can save you, at a minimum, a significant amount of frustration. And it can even save your job, explains Feind Reeves.

“What you need to remember is: an organization’s leader is the boss of you. What, how, when, and why they want your work matters. It’s not your job to like it or judge it. It’s your job to get it done, explain how you did it and link it to potential next steps or big picture insights.”

“So, if doing your work is straightforward then why does their leadership style matter? Because the leadership style on the surface is easy to spot and handle. It’s the one underneath that is tricky.”

And, even if you are self-aware enough to know your leadership type, there are unconscious habits that inform your behavior that is very specific to your way of leading – and being aware of those blind spots will make you a better leader. “Leaders often acknowledge, even joke about, their formal leadership style. But it’s the style they don’t acknowledge that is important to understand and navigate,” says Feind Reeves.

Four common leadership types in the workplace

According to Feind Reeves, there are three leadership archetypes, but the way each one translates into action can vary depending on the person. The fourth leadership style we listed is not on Reevess’ selection but is certainly a common one. Make sure to read until the end!

Observe your coworkers and engage in self-reflection to determine the effects of various leadership types in your specific workplace. Ask around to find out how different leaders within your organization tend to work and behave. Or ask for feedback as far as your own leadership approach.

The important thing is to start paying attention and use the insights you derive to improve things at work, whether with your own boss or with your team. Here are the four types of leadership to look out for.

1. The Autocrat or Nike

Feind Reeves says this leadership type is all about embracing a “just do it” approach (hence the Nike nickname).

This can look like giving your team a high-level objective and letting them take care of things, and you don’t care as long as the final result is done. But it can also turn into micromanagement if you keep checking in because you haven’t defined the scope of the work and want constant updates.

“Nike may jump on a plane after making a decree and review the work as you slide it across the finish line – or might be a secret micromanager and call you twice a day to ask about progress,” says Feind Reeves.

How to make the most of it:

Hire the right people. This type of leadership works well when you surround yourself with operational superstars who are able to turn a high-level goal into an actionable plan and be proactive about keeping communication lines open.

If your boss is a Nike type, make sure to clarify expectations at the very beginning of a project so you’re on the same page about what exactly they want you to run with. Then, run with it and provide brief progress updates on a regular basis.

2. The Participative Leader or Team Captain

“Here’s what needs to be done. Let’s figure out a plan,” is the best way to summarize Team Captain’s leadership approach, says Feind Reeves.

This type of leadership may help all team members feel included in decision-making, which is positive for workplace culture. But it can also turn into a lack of direction and clarity around decisions, where people are not sure who is responsible for what and what they should prioritize.

How to make the most of it:

Use your tendency to collaborate to gather a lot of team input and insights, then make a final decision. Make sure team meetings have an agenda and facilitator to avoid endless conversations that don’t lead to tangible action items.

If your boss is a participative leader, use it as an opportunity to be proactive about bringing bold thoughts and suggestions to the table. You may end up having the chance to lead exciting projects that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

3. The Delegator, or Head Chef

“Here’s what needs to be done, I’m going to split up the tasks and assign them.” That is the MO of the Head Chef leader, according to Feind Reeves.

Delegators can be savvy when it comes to dividing and conquering tasks in order to reach an ambitious team objective. In that sense, they are great project managers. If they understand team members’ strengths and weaknesses and have an accurate sense of workload and timing, that is.

How to make the most of it:

Leverage the right tools. Use a project-management platform like Hive to streamline workflows, save time, and delegate more effectively. Build on specific team members’ strengths. And have 1-on-1 check-ins to understand how things are playing out on the ground after you’ve delegated tasks.

If your boss is a Head Chef, provide them with updates on your workload, tasks and priorities to help them delegate more effectively. And make workflow suggestions if they are open to it.

4. The Scorekeeper, or Transactional Leader

The best way to describe a scorekeeper leader is thinking about what the name represents: someone who often keeps track of what was accomplished and distributes rewards and/or punishments accordingly. Transactional managers are focused on structure and believe individuals are rarely motivated by the assigned tasks. That’s when rewards (bonus, financial benefits, trips, perks) come into play. Leaders use them as an enticing strategy to motivate employees to complete their job; at the same time, punishments can be used as a threat if deadlines are not met. 

How to make the most of it:

Being on track with your tasks and responsibilities using platforms such as Hive can help you to succeed around a scorekeeper leader, who might use task and time-track reports to build performance reviews. However, is key to note that transactional leadership can diminish returns and overall productivity when employees’ performance is tied to incentives and a constant need for additional appreciation.

Hive is the world’s first democratically built productivity platform. Learn how we can help you, here.