5 Leadership Styles for Effective Management

By Tracey Maurer

What kind of leader are you? Do you follow the classic definition of a leader: someone who aims to influence and motivate employees to meet organizational goals and effectiveness?

If you’re doing your job, then this definition might sound familiar. But let’s get more specific. Do you have a particular leadership style that you usually use? Do you want to learn how to use your leadership skills more effectively?

Most leaders generally adhere to one or two preferred styles of leadership with which they feel comfortable. But the challenge is that great leaders have multiple leadership styles in their toolkit, and they are adept at diagnosing situations and using the right leadership styles at the right times, according to David Jones, associate professor of management at the University of Vermont.

Jones identifies five styles drawn from theory and research on leadership that he thinks are important for all leaders to have in their toolkit:

  • Directive: You’re no dictator, but you’re very clear in establishing performance objectives for your team. You’re adept at providing structure and skilled at clarifying employees’ perceptions of their roles. When needed – and this isn’t always a bad thing because some situations might require it – you tend toward micro-managing.
  • Supportive: If you’re approachable and empathetic, then you’re probably a supportive leader. You show concern for employees, and you treat them with dignity and respect. Your employees, in turn, feel valued and cared for. In times of change, they trust you to help them manage uncertainty.
  • Participative: If you’re someone who works hard for buy-in by soliciting employee input, then you’re most definitely a participative leader. You encourage employee involvement in decision-making and, more importantly, ensure they know that their views will be – and have been – considered. Depending on the situation, you consult directly with employees; other times, you delegate your authority to employees who engage in the decision-making.
  • Achievement-Oriented: If you always think you and your team can do better, and you push everyone to reach higher, then you clearly are achievement-oriented. You like to set “stretch” goals, and you encourage continuous improvement. You also empower employees and give them autonomy, assuming they’ll do their personal and team best. You constantly show confidence in the ability of individual employees and teams.
  • Transformational: Most leaders aspire to be transformational. If you are, you lead through vision. You have your eye on the future, and you model and communicate your forward-thinking commitment. You are an inspiration to employees, and they follow you because they believe in the common goals that you’ve shared and articulated.

Even if you identify with just one or two styles, you can learn from – and apply – other styles, Jones says. UVM’s Leadership and Management Professional Certificate program is a good place to start. For every situation – whether it’s communicating with an employee about poor job performance, inspiring a highly experienced team to achieve or guiding your organization through times of change and uncertainty – there are particular leadership styles and corresponding tools you can use to accomplish your objectives.

The Leadership and Management Professional Certificate program is designed for emerging leaders, supervisors, and managers of all levels, including professionals currently experiencing obstacles or looking for advancement, and executives who want to reassess their ability to influence others. The certificate program consists of eight individual leadership seminars that focus on developing leadership capabilities and skills in the context of today’s business and management challenges. The seminars are taught by industry experts and held in Burlington, VT. Registration is open.

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Tracey Maurer is a Senior Program Developer and Director of New Business Development for the UVM Center for Leadership and Innovation.

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  • Johnson

    These are the most relevant Leadership styles in today’s world. In addition to these there are also other Leadership Traits and Skills that leaders need to posses in order to have an impact. Check them out in this link: customwritingservice.org/blog/leadership-traits-and-skills

  • Frisky Hedgehogs

    Hi I’m Edu, I’m student of Primary Education degree at the University of Murcia and I only want to express my gratitude about this post because it has helped me in the subject “School Organization and Educational Ressources”. My groupp and I have to work with leadership styles and this article is perfect for increase my knowledge about that topic. Once again… thank you!!

  • Fluffy Guardians

    Hi! We are students of Primary Education at Univerity of Murcia in Spain and this post really helped us to understand the different leadership styles because we had to make a work about this topic. Thank you very much for the information!

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    Thanks for sharing that.


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  • Maria Rodz

    Tracey Maurer has written very nice and effective piece of content for Management skills to build your career in leadership for business growth.

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  • Jennifer Feldman

    Hi…..Tracey Maurer.
    I have many years of expertise in both professional and volunteer leadership roles. There are highly effective ways to bring change in it, but we don’t necessarily depend upon any single style. A leadership style is a style of leader, who provide direction, motivate people and then implement plan.
    In my research study read about all styles of leader, who possess different attitude or different perspective from each other.
    According Daniel Goleman (2000) in his article “Leadership that Gets Results” talks about six styles of leadership: Authoritarian leader, paternalistic leader, democratic leader, Laissez-faire leader, Transactional leaders, and Transformational leader.
    I believe in a effective leadership style that involves a high level of communication, inclusive towards everyone’s needs and strengths and understanding your team. Effective leadership is like communicating both on individual level and a group level with each team member, a leader will have a better idea and judgement of how the team works together and how to use each individual’s strengths that led the group to the highest possible level of success.
    Effective leaders use all of the leadership styles as appropriate.

    • Davyd

      As a senior public sector executive I can only agree; but I am discomforted by the inward view of leadership that style lists promote. As a ‘leader’ one spends a lot of time advocating for one’s team, seeking and providing resources for it, managing boundaries with other teams and suppliers and developing work qualities in team members, particularly direct reports. To a varying extent one relies upon one’s position to influence people, in what ever stylistic mode one is in. Communication/listening skills are paramount as is political insight to understand the desires and motives of one’s direct reports and colleagues in other teams. Style lists are one-dimensional and fail to capture the socio-technical complexities of taking responsibility in an organisation.

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