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Top 10 Leadership Styles

Written by: Editorial Staff

April 2, 2012
Filed Under Business 


A list of the top ten leadership stylesContributed by Paul Seaburn, Top 10 Guru

No one definition of leadership fits all situations, just as no one leadership style fits all leaders.

Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower, one of history’s great leaders, had this definition: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

Which of these ten leadership styles are you?

10. The Director

A list of the top ten leadership styles

A common leadership style, the Director has roles and activities well defined for employees and gives close supervision. The Director makes all of the decisions in the organization so communication is one-way and feedback is minimal and often not allowed.

9. The Coach

A list of the top ten leadership styles

The Coach is a good style for leading individuals who respond to one-on-one leadership and are looking for guidance on who they fit in the organization, group or team. The Coach is a good leadership style for employees who are willing to take the initiative and run with it.

8. The Commander

A list of the top ten leadership styles

The Commander style comes from the military and is generally ineffective outside that organization. Respect for the leader is unquestioned, orders must be followed, praise is rare and criticism is tough under this style. While effective in a crisis mode, even the modern military is moving away from it.

7. The Authority

A list of the top ten leadership styles

When looking for guidance and direction, employees will respect an expert, so the Authority leads by displaying superior knowledge. This style allows for feedback but can backfire if the staff decides it knows more than the leader.

6. The Pacesetter

A list of the top ten leadership styles

The Pacesetter defines super-high goals and drives employees to strive for them, often by setting an example with long hours and hard work. This style can produce fast results short-term but employees may resist if the goals are set too high and they feel they’re failing or falling behind.

5. The Buddy

A list of the top ten leadership styles

The Buddy leads by forming emotional bonds with the staff and promoting teamwork through harmony and good feelings. This all-for-one-and-one-for-all approach is great for pumping up morale but it makes disciple difficult when the worker feels a close friendship with the leader is being broken.

4. The Consensus-Builder

A list of the top ten leadership styles

Discussion and participation are the tools of the Consensus-Builder. This leadership style works well when the organization promotes flexibility and respects individual responsibility. On the other hand, it can lead to long meetings and periods of indecision that leave workers feeling lost and leaderless.

3. The Bully

A list of the top ten leadership styles

Turnarounds sometimes require a Bully leader to intimidate workers to do things they don’t always understand or agree with. It also works with problem employees who may respond to coercion. This style is bad for employee morale and should only be used for a short time or in a crisis.

2. The Visionary

A list of the top ten leadership styles

The Visionary leader works well when goals are difficult to define. Using charisma and personal magnetism, convinces workers to have faith that they are heading in the right direction and will see the greater results soon. Charm only goes so far, so the Visionary must show some results to keep workers following the vision.

1. The Hands-Off

A list of the top ten leadership styles

Some high tech companies favor the Hands-Off leadership style when the workers are already highly trained in their field and highly motivated by job satisfaction and future earnings potential. Employees used to Hands-Off leadership may resist criticism or the hands-on management needed in disciplinary situations or when a change of direction is required.


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