The Four Traditional Leadership Styles

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Are you a founder, or in a leadership position? If so, understanding what kind of leader your team needs for success is key. Different workplace teams respond differently to different kinds of management styles, and finding the right approach can mean the difference between successful collaboration and frequent conflicts. That’s why it pays to be mindful of traditional leadership styles — they may provide insights into how best to manage your own unique team.

In this article we’ll discuss the four basic types of traditional leadership: autocratic, paternalistic, consultative and delegating. Each style has its advantages and disadvantages; whether you choose one over another depends on factors such as experience level within your team and the urgency associated with decision making timescales.

  1. Autocratic leadership style
    The autocratic leadership style involves a leader making decisions without considering the opinions of their team. It can be an effective way to make fast decisions and keep control over tasks, but it can also lead to low morale among employees if not applied properly.
  2. Paternalistic leadership style
    Leaders who use this style see themselves as protectors of their subordinates and act paternalistically towards them. They may be seen as caring but also controlling. The paternalistic leadership style is based on mutual trust between the leader and their team; it recognizes that although the leader makes final decisions, they are willing to take input from others and ensuring that subordinates have what they need to succeed. This approach can foster loyalty among team members and encourage collaboration, as everyone feels heard and valued in decision-making processes.
  3. Consultative leadership style
    The consultative leadership style is similar to the paternalistic approach in that it takes into account input from other members of the team, but it is more focused on gathering a range of perspectives before making a decision. This approach can help to ensure that decisions are made with all points of view being considered and discussed.
  4. Delegating leadership style
    The delegating traditional leadership style involves allowing the team to take ownership of tasks while still providing guidance and support from the leader. This approach can help motivate teams by giving them responsibility, as well as increasing efficiency through delegation of tasks.

No one type of leadership style is perfect; each has its own strengths and weaknesses depending on the situation at hand. It is important to consider how each might work within your team and choose the right one for you based on your own experience level and goals.

Pro of autocratic leadership style

  1. Quick Decision Making
    Autocratic leaders are able to make decisions quickly and without much consultation. This can be beneficial in fast-paced environments, as it eliminates the need for debate and discussion before a decision is made.
  2. Clear Expectations
    Autocratic leaders clearly communicate their expectations and vision to employees, which helps them understand what is expected of them.
  3. Increased Productivity
    Autocratic leadership often leads to increased productivity, as employees understand the boundaries set by their leader and strive to meet expectations.
  4. Structure
    Autocrats provide structure and order within an organization, which can help ensure efficiency and consistency across departments or teams.
  5. Focus on Bottom Line
    An autocrat’s main focus is typically on the bottom line—maximizing profits and minimizing costs. This can be beneficial in a business setting, as it ensures that resources are used wisely and efficiently.
Business & Leadership
Business & Leadership

Cons of Autocratic Leadership Style

  1. Low Morale
    Autocrats often do not encourage communication between employees, which can lead to low morale due to feelings of isolation or alienation.
  2. No Innovative Thinking
    Employees who are limited to following orders may not have the freedom to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to problems.
  3. Poor Quality
    Without feedback from other team members, autocrats may not realize when quality is slipping due to rushed decisions or lack of direction.
  4. Resistant Employees
    Employees who disagree with the leader’s decisions may become resistant, leading to conflict and a decrease in productivity.
  5. Lack of Accountability
    Without feedback from team members and accountability to others, autocrats may make decisions that are not in the best interest of the company.
  6. Unethical Practices
    Autocratic leaders can abuse their power, resulting in unethical practices that could damage their organization’s reputation.
  7. High Turnover Rate
    Employees who feel undervalued or micromanaged may choose to leave for better opportunities elsewhere, resulting in high turnover rates for the organization.

Overall, autocratic leadership is an outdated style of management that does not lead to success in today’s ever-changing business environment. Leaders should strive to create a work culture where employees have a say in decision making and get support from leaders.

Pro of paternalistic leadership style

  1. Employees feel more secure and comfortable working in an environment with a paternalistic leader. This type of leader offers employees guidance and support, which can help them to stay motivated and make informed decisions.
  2. A good paternalistic leader will also ensure that their employees are properly compensated for the work they do, as well as provide clear direction and expectations for their team members.
  3. Employees may also be less likely to experience burnout because they have someone to turn to when they need additional support or advice.
  4. It can also foster loyalty among employees, since the leader is looking out for their best interests.
  5. Finally, a paternalistic leadership style may help create a sense of community within the workplace, which may lead to improved morale and productivity levels.

Cons of paternalistic leadership style

  1. It can encourage a lack of trust and collaboration
    Paternalistic leaders may be seen as overbearing and dictatorial, which can lead to resentment among team members and discourage open communication.
  2. It can limit creativity and innovation
    Since the leader is so controlling, it may stifle individual ideas or contributions from team members that could potentially bring about positive changes or improvements in the workplace.
  3. It may be difficult to transition out of this style of leadership when needed
    If a leader has become accustomed to being in total control, it can be challenging for them to relinquish power and delegate tasks or responsibilities appropriately.
  4. It can lead to micromanagement and burnout among team members
    When employees are constantly being watched closely by their leader,it can be demoralizing and lead to exhaustion, which can have a negative impact on productivity.
  5. It may prevent employees from taking initiative or developing their skills
    Since the leader is always in charge, team members may not feel empowered to take risks or think critically about problems, thus hindering their own growth and development.

Overall, paternalistic leadership style isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it can certainly be effective when used wisely – but it’s important to consider its potential drawbacks before implementing it in the workplace. By understanding these cons and managing them accordingly, leaders can ensure that they are using this approach responsibly and to the benefit of everyone involved.

Professional Business Coach
Professional Business Coach

Pro of consultative leadership style

  1. It encourages group collaboration and consensus building
    This type of leadership allows everyone to have a say in decisions, which can lead to better solutions that take into account the needs and opinions of all the stakeholders involved.
  2. It provides clear expectations for team members
    Consultative leaders clearly define roles, responsibilities, and objectives for their team members so that each person understands what is expected of them and how their work contributes to the overall success of the team or organization.
  3. It helps build trust between leadership and employees
    By allowing employees to provide input on decisions, traditional consultative leaders create an environment where employees feel valued and respected, which can then lead to increased motivation and productivity as well as improved morale throughout the organization.
  4. It promotes open communication among team members
    Traditional consultative leaders create an environment where employees feel free to express their ideas and concerns openly, which can help foster creativity and innovation within the organization. This type of communication also helps ensure that potential problems or conflicts are identified and addressed quickly, thus preventing them from escalating into larger issues.
  5. It encourages creative problem solving
    By allowing team members to brainstorm ideas and solutions together, traditional consultative leadership styles promote out-of-the-box thinking and effective problem solving as a group. This can be particularly beneficial in challenging situations where multiple perspectives need to be taken into account for the best possible outcome.

Finally, it is important to note that while traditional consultative leadership does have many benefits but it also has some drawbacks

Cons of consultative leadership style

  1. It can be difficult to implement organizational change. This is because the leader’s opinion and ideas are paramount, making it hard for dissenting opinions or alternative approaches to be taken into consideration.
  2. Conflict can arise within teams when everyone has their own ideas and opinions, but the leader’s decision is final.
  3. The style only works if there is a clear chain of command and structure in place as otherwise it’s difficult for decisions to be made quickly and effectively.
  4. It can result in demotivated team members who feel they don’t have any ownership over important decisions being made that affect them directly.
  5. Finally, traditional consultative leadership can lead to stagnation as innovation may not take place due to lack of input from other team members. This can lead to a lack of progress and long-term success for the organization.

Overall, traditional consultative leadership style is not an effective way of managing a team or organization in the long run. It relies heavily on one person’s opinion and input which may be detrimental to achieving successful outcomes. Therefore it is important for organizations to adopt different methods of leading that are better suited for today’s modern workplace environment.

Team Leader
Team Leader

Pro of delegative leadership style

  1. Allows for a high degree of autonomy and individual initiative
    Delegative leadership provides employees with the freedom to take responsibility for their own actions, enabling them to think creatively and freely. This can result in greater motivation, enhanced job satisfaction, and improved performance.
  2. Encourages creativity and adaptability
    By providing employees with more autonomy, delegative leaders are able to foster creative problem-solving strategies that may lead to more effective solutions. Furthermore, when organizations need to quickly react to changing market conditions or customer demands, this type of leader is able to empower staff members with the authority and resources needed for rapid responses.
  3. Promotes better team collaboration
    Since delegative leadership emphasizes individual accountability, it encourages workers to collaborate more effectively by sharing their ideas and working together to solve problems. This can lead to the development of stronger relationships between team members, resulting in improved productivity and morale.
  4. Allows for quick decision-making
    By entrusting employees with autonomy and authority, delegative leaders are able to make decisions quickly without needing to consult or seek approval from their superiors. This not only saves time but also enables companies to leverage opportunities more effectively in highly competitive markets.
  5. Enhances employee engagement and loyalty
    When employees feel empowered, they are likely to be more engaged at work as well as more loyal to their employers. Delegative leadership encourages staff members to take ownership of their work, enabling them to experience a sense of accomplishment that ultimately leads to greater job satisfaction.

Cons of delegative leadership style

  1. Poor communication
    Delegative leaders often fail to communicate their expectations and goals clearly. This can result in confusion among the team members and lack of clarity in tasks.
  2. Lack of accountability
    When employees are not held accountable for their actions and performance, they may become lazy or unmotivated, resulting in a decrease in productivity.
  3. Low morale
    Employees who feel ignored or disconnected from the leader may become demotivated and show low morale, which can lead to lower job satisfaction and higher turnover rates.
  4. Inflexibility
    Delegative leadership can be rigid, making it difficult to adapt to changing circumstances or customer needs quickly.
  5. Poor decision-making
    Without proper guidance from the leader, employees may make decisions that don’t align with the overall company objectives. This can lead to wasted resources and time, as well as poorer results.
  6. Inadequate feedback
    Delegative leaders may fail to provide adequate feedback or guidance on tasks, leaving employees in the dark when it comes to understanding their progress or performance.
  7. Lack of innovation
    Without a leader who encourages creative thinking and out-of-the-box solutions, team members may be hesitant to suggest new ideas or take risks that could result in breakthroughs.
  8. Unfairness
    Traditional delegative leadership can sometimes create an unfair environment where certain individuals are given preferential treatment while others are treated poorly and overlooked for promotions or opportunities.
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Four Traditional Leadership Styles Summary

We hope this article was helpful in understanding the four traditional leadership styles. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below – we will be happy to answer them!

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*Based on a survey of small businesses using QuickBook Online conducted September 2018.