5 Styles of Leadership

Matt Beswick February 20, 2012 0
People lead in different ways and different leadership styles can all be successful. Some lead from the back, some from the front. Some businesses have a public face such as Richard Branson, who does as much PR as actual business. Others are more secretive and are more interested in keeping a close eye on accounts than appearing in adverts.

In this post we look at five styles of leadership. These are not exclusive and most leaders take elements from each.

Autocrat

I.e. Steve Jobs, Former CEO of Apple

The flamboyant face of a business, autocrats are the leaders that appear in the media the most and are usually entrepreneurs with a colourful life story.

Autocrats often succeed when others tell them they will fail and this gives them the confidence boost to believe they are capable of anything.

Because autocrats are so convinced of their skill, they want to control every aspect of a business. This can work for small businesses but become unmanageable for large organisations.

Problems also arise when an autocrat leaves an organisation as there is no one capable of filling the power vacuum. An example of this is Steve Jobs’ tragic death; Apple were faced with the impossible task of replacing a leader with almost God-like status. In Apple’s case, Jobs’ autocratic leadership style is responsible for their success but there are many businesses where a leader’s short-sightedness is responsible for many bad decisions.

Technocrat

I.e. Lucas Papademos, Greek economist and newly appointed Greek Prime Minister

Technocrats (also called Bureaucrats) thrive on stable environments. They don’t feel the need to be the face of a business and prefer instead to keep the machine of business well-oiled. Often liked within a business for their stability they rarely appear in the spotlight and are sometimes usurped by other leaders with more ambition for change and risk.

Risk is the last thing on a technocrat’s mind – they are more interested in ensuring a business is always making enough money rather than taking big risks for big payoffs. Technocrats are often brought in to make up for the mistakes of a kleptocrat.

Aristocrat

I.e. Most VPs of major corporations

Aristocrats are more interested in their title than what they do. When asked what their job is they will reply with ‘I am vice president/ manager/ director at…’ before telling you what their company does.

A bit like the kleptocrat, aristocrats are only in business for their own personal gain – to make money and join executive clubs. They don’t care who they work for as long as they have the potential to earn more.

The eventual aim of an aristocrat is to earn huge amounts of money while doing very little work. They very rarely damage a business because they don’t actually do anything. All decisions are made by managers below them so the only downside to an aristocratic leader is their pay and the chance they will appoint the wrong person to power. However, they would normally ask somebody else to make that decision so it’s not usually a problem.

Aristocrats are unconcerned about who they lead or which company they head as long as they have an executive position and get to sit in first class.

Democrat

I.e. Many of the most popular politcal figures – inc. Bobby Kenedy

Democrats combine the best aspects of the autocrat and the technocrat. They make decisions that benefit the business and their employees instead of themselves.

Democrats usually work their way up from the bottom of an organisation at the top which makes them a well rounded leader. Having done the lowest paid job and having worked alongside all levels they are aware of problems through the company and how to deal with them.

This makes democrats the best to work for. They know the company inside out and have combined people management skills with practical work skills.

Kleptocrat

I.e. Fred Goodwin, blamed for the downlfall of Royal Bank of Scotland

Kleptocrats are bad for business. They often make themselves a lot of money while ruining companies in the process. These are the sorts of leaders that award themselves $1 million bonuses in the same year they lay off 10% of staff and freeze pay rises. People often mistake making money with good business.

Kleptocrats survive by showing off how much money they have made and equate this with being successful leaders. The bankrupt businesses and jobless employees left in their wake certainly would not call them good leaders.

If the head of an organisation is thinking more about their own bank balance than the business accounts then they are not a good leader.

This article was written by Silicon Beach Training. Our Leadership Skills Training course in Brighton provides delegates with a best-practice approach to leadership so that they don’t fall into the same traps as above. We also offer a range of other management courses include IOSH Managing Safely Training.

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