The most common leadership styles are: Democratic, Authoritative, Coaching, Bureaucratic, Innovative.

Recently i did a test to determine my leadership styleAccording to the test my leadership styles are in order: Democratic, Authoritative and Coaching.

First of all I thought: Ah! interesting! And also contradicting. How can I be at the same time democratic and authoritative?

I read then the descriptions:

Democratic leadership styles:

  • This style relies on consensus decision-making.
  • This leader is comfortable allowing others to occasionally take the lead.
  • S/He motivates by providing opportunity for participation.
  • S/He uses collaboration and communication to receive input from team members.
  • This style is ineffective when time is limited or if team members do not have the knowl- edge or expertise to make quality contributions.
  • This approach is most effective when the knowledge of the entire team is needed to solve a problem or find direction.

Authoritative leadership styles:

  • This leader provides long-term direction and focuses on end-goals.
  • S/He often has more experience and knowledge than those she leads. 
  • S/He motivates by inspiring enthusiasm for the mission.
  • S/He gives clear direction and sets standards.
  • This style is less effective when explicit guidance is required.
  • This approach is most effective when a change of direction or vision is required.

Coaching leadership styles:

  • This leader concentrates on preparing individuals for the future by building skills.
  • S/He excels with individuals or groups that have not yet realized their full potential.
  • S/He leader motivates by challenging the individual.
  • This leader communicates with positive statements to foster a high level of personal gratification.
  • This approach is less effective when those being coached are adverse to change.
  • This style is most effective in a one-on-one setting when the person being coached is receptive to the close working relationship of this leadership style.

And then things started to make sense to me.

I recognise I was using a democratic style when I was working in the NGO sector. Because it was a very collaborative environment I didn’t feel like imposing my opinion. To tell the truth, at that time I was not so motivated at work, therefore this democratic style was easy. Allowing other people to take the lead was very easy and comfortable for me. And I found out in many situations that the democratic leadership style didn’t bring many results. Especially when each person in the group has a different opinion. Allowing all of them expressing their opinion brought only caos and no decision making.

This is when I switched to the authoritative style, informing people about the decision taken.

I realised that I was first creating caos with a democratic style and then I needed to get out of the caos by being authoritative. In that setting the authoritative style worked the most.

But let’s go to the 3rd style I have: coaching. I think the test kind of traced my evolution. 10 yeas ago for sure I wouldn’ score anything in coaching. I learned since I coach people to develop this style. It was kind of natural process. To help people to build their skills through motivating them by enthusiasm, by inspiring them. This is definitely what I do with the coaching and indeed what the description says is that it is very effective in one to one settings. And it works the best with people who want to change. Totally true.

Definitely I see a truth in the test. And I would say that for my current job what brings me the best result is the coaching style. I will keep this in mind and continue to do a good job.

What is your leadership style? Take a quiz here.

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