What kind of leader are you? The best leaders stay flexible and adapt their leadership style to fit the situation. Bruna Martinuzzi, founder of Clarion Enterprises Ltd., says there are seven common leadership styles. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share an overview of these styles and explain how to develop your signature style.

1. Autocratic style. These leaders say, "Do as I say." They typically believe that they are the smartest person at the table and knows more than others. Martinuzzi says this command-and-control approach is typical of leadership styles of the past, but it doesn't hold much water with today's talent.

2. Authoritative style. These leaders say, "Follow me." According to Martinuzzi, the authoritative leadership style is the mark of confident leaders who map the way and set expectations, while engaging and energizing followers along the way.

3. Pacesetting style. "Do as I do!" is the phrase most indicative of leaders who use the pacesetting style. Just like in racing, pacesetters set the bar high and push their team members to run hard and fast to the finish line.

4. Democratic style. Martinuzzi says these leaders are more likely to ask, "What do you think?" They share information with employees about anything that affects their work responsibilities. They also seek employees' opinions before approving a final decision.

5. Coaching style. Those with a coaching leadership style tend to have a "consider this" approach. A leader who coaches views people as a reservoir of talent to be developed. The leader who uses a coach approach seeks to unlock people's potential.

6. Affiliative style. According to Martinuzzi, a phrase often used to describe this type of leadership is "People come first." Of all the leadership styles, the affiliative leadership approach is one where the leader gets up close and personal with people.

7. Laissez-faire style. The laissez-faire leadership style is at the opposite end of the autocratic style. Of all the leadership styles, this one involves the least amount of oversight. Martinuzzi says the autocratic style leader stands as firm as a rock on issues, while the laissez-faire leader lets people swim with the current.

Choosing Leadership Styles

Part of being a good leader is knowing which leadership styles work best for you. When you develop a signature style with the ability to stretch into other styles, Martinuzzi says you can enhance your leadership effectiveness. Here's how to select your leadership style:

  • Know yourself. Consider your dominant leadership style. You can do this by asking trusted colleagues to describe the strengths of your leadership style. You can also take a leadership style assessment.
  • Understand the different styles. Get familiar with the repertoire of leadership styles that can work best for a given situation. Martinuzzi advises asking yourself what new skills you need to develop?
  • Practice makes a leader. Be genuine with any approach you use. Moving from a dominant leadership style to a different one may be challenging at first. Practice the new behaviors until they become natural.

Traditional leadership styles are still relevant in today's workplace, but they may need to be combined with new approaches in line with how leadership is defined for the 21st century. Your team deserves a great leader. Use the guidance above to consider your current leadership style and how you can stay responsive to your team's needs.

Source: Bruna Martinuzzi is the founder of Clarion Enterprises Ltd., specializing in presentation skills training and leadership communication coaching. She has helped thousands of individuals improve their presentation skills and become more effective communicators.