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Three Leadership Styles Every Manager Should Know

There are few professionals more valued – or more highly sought after by employers – than leaders who can drive their teams to success. While every leadership role is different, there are three core management leadership styles that every manager should be aware of: 

  • Autocratic leadership style 

  • Transformational leadership style 

  • Coaching leadership style 

Simply recognising the differences in leadership styles is not enough - the very best leaders have a thirst for knowledge and develop their managerial traits in order to improve their leadership skills. 

To help you add more value to your organisation, and become an influential leader while supporting your teams to do their best work, we’ll explore three types of leadership styles. 


What are the leadership styles and why do they matter? 

Your ‘leadership style’ simply refers to your methodology, your characteristics and your behaviours when managing your team. How you manage includes the ways you direct, motivate, empower and provide feedback to team members. 

Different leadership styles also influence how you develop your overall management strategy, respond to changes and manage the expectations of all stakeholders. In short, if you fail to adopt the right leadership approach, it can have critical impacts on the outcome of projects as well as your team’s morale. 

Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the best leadership styles in management. As modern work life evolves, so too does a manager’s need to evolve their leadership style. For now, there are three key types of leadership styles that can be applied across most sectors and will have a powerful impact on your team. 


1. Autocratic leadership style 

The autocratic leadership style, also known as authoritarian leadership, is based on the idea that a top-down, single-leader approach is necessary to lead a company or team forward. 

Autocratic leaders are direct in their approach to developing strategies, policies, procedures and the way the business should be run. They typically prioritise giving direction over collaboration – or a more ‘democratic’ approach. 

  • Pro: With the right team, autocratic leadership may be effective and deliver positive results within urgent or chaotic business scenarios. 

  • Con: Employees can feel micromanaged and become dependent on their leader to make decisions for them. 


2. Transformational leadership style 

Placing a strong emphasis on change and transformation in the workplace, the transformational leadership style is one that seeks to inspire employees to better themselves and achieve well beyond their prior expectations. 

By tapping into each team member’s individual potential, transformational leaders can effect real change and ensure their people do what is required to carry out major changes or transformations within the business. 

  • Pro: Transformational leaders are forward-thinking managers who understand that their business, and their leadership style must be agile in order to pivot according to different challenges. 

  • Con: With a perpetual focus on change, transformational leaders may misinterpret certain challenges and demand that their teams change their approach – to the detriment of the project. 


3. Coaching leadership style 

Far removed from the autocratic leadership style, the coaching leadership style is based on a holistic approach that encompasses open communication with team members, active listening skills, flexibility around strategies and decision-making, and an instructional approach to delegation. 

  • Pro: Intended to develop staff for future success, a coaching leader helps teams members build their skills while also aligning their personal goals to the business’s overall strategic targets. 

  • Con: With such a one-on-one and intimate management style, there is a risk of micromanaging and distracting team members from their core responsibilities. 


Combining different types of leadership styles for maximum impact 

Some managers may decide that one specific leadership style is most appropriate for their current position. Others may acquire a base knowledge of all three management leadership styles and then adopt the most appropriate type for a specific project or team. 

Seasoned management veterans are self-aware leaders understand that different environments call for different approaches. While some teams need a deft touch, others require a firmer approach to ensure deadlines are met and budgets are adhered to. 

Tailoring your own unique leadership style by combining various facets of these leadership types could allow you to be more flexible and adaptable within your organisation, while also helping to improve your leadership skills overall. 


How to better understand the best leadership styles in management 

Even the most experienced managers can glean value from new learnings. Acquiring knowledge across a broad range of management leadership styles can not only help you become a better manager, but learning skills for CEOs can help you attract the attention of the C-suite as well as other employers – all for the benefit of furthering your career. 

If you are ready to learn the difference between a manager and a leader, The University of Adelaide has study options to suit your needs:  

If you want to become not only the best manager but also the best leader you can be, find out more about what you will learn in an MBA

Becoming a CEO takes business experience and a willingness to grow your skills for a higher c-suite position. As a CEO, you will move beyond specialised teams and take on greater responsibilities to shape and direct a business with instilled values in mind. This level of leadership requires entrepreneurship and the ability to problem-solve across all aspects of a company.

There is a growing consensus among experts and researchers that developing a healthy level of self awareness is essential to become a successful leader. People who have self awareness are well equipped to become effective leaders and managers because they have the skills to support and inspire a team.  

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