Many experts have studied leadership over the years and have created categories of leadership based on the traits of the leaders and their behaviors. There is a wide variety in these categories or leadership styles, with some lists containing three styles of leadership while others contain ten.  Generally speaking, experts have helped us define the following leadership styles:

  • Transactional leadership uses rewards and consequences as a means of ensuring productivity. When group members meet goals, they receive rewards. If goals are not met, consequences are put in place.
  • Authoritarian or autocratic leadership is characterized by a top-down organizational structure. All decisions, details, and expectations are determined by the leader in charge of the group. Team members complete responsibilities but have little to no say in the direction of projects or tasks.
  • Participative or democratic leadership occurs when leaders involve the team members in the decision-making process, sometimes through voting or other consensus-reaching activity. Ultimately, leaders determine the direction of projects, but details are determined by the group.
  • Transformational leadership focuses on the continuous improvement of products and teams. Groups are encouraged to make changes for the betterment of all involved.
  • Delegative leadership involves very little direction from the leader of the group. These leaders take a very hands-off approach to managing tasks. Team members make decisions and complete the work.
  • Bureaucratic leadership relies on a set of well-established rules, policies, and expectations to accomplish tasks. These leaders create environments where all possible variables have been predicted and procedures exist to address these variables.
  • Charismatic leadership capitalizes on the positive energy of the person leading the group to motivate and inspire. Teams rally around the leader and their vision for the program or project.
  • Coaching or instructional leadership focuses attention on improving the unique skills of the individuals on the team. As skills improve, so too, do outcomes and productivity.
  • Strategic leadership uses a wide variety of information to establish and achieve long-term planning goals for an organization or team.

You may be familiar with other styles of leadership and you may have heard those listed referred to using a different name.  It is important to note, that each leadership style has benefits and drawbacks.  Some styles work better in certain situations than other styles. It’s almost as if leadership is most effective when it is responsive or situational.

Interestingly, some experts recommend that leaders adopt what is called the situational leadership style, which calls for leaders to adjust how they manage teams and make decisions based on the particular situations that arise.

This makes sense if you think about all of the different situations that emerge in an early learning environment. Leaders need to respond differently when emergencies occur than they do during staff meetings. Quality improvement initiatives required a particular leadership approach that might not be effective to address employee absenteeism.

This means that leaders must possess strengths across many different leadership styles so they can transition smoothly between them as needed.

You can read more about situational leadership here.

For the main article Exploring Leadership, CLICK HERE

For the article Important Leadership Skills, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Children’s Leadership Skills, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Building Leadership among Team Members, CLICK HERE