Makarios Consulting Blog

5 Leadership Styles: Which One are You?

Think about your leadership style.  There are five main types, each with its own pros and cons: Bureaucratic, Supportive, Directive, Traditional, and Collaborative. If you think about your style, you’ll realize you tend to focus on two main things: people and production. How much you focus on each defines your leadership style and helps you to interchange styles depending on the circumstances.

Bureaucratic.  This style tends toward little concern for people or production.  The result is employees who give only what is absolutely necessary and explicitly requested of them.

Supportive.  Unlike the bureaucratic leaders, the Supportive Manager intensely focuses on people, but is seemingly unconcerned with production.  A leader with this style tends to avoid conflicts or discussions of needed changes, which at best usually results in a production and employee satisfaction plateau.

Directive.  The opposite of supportive, Directive Managers want production first, foremost, and always. They are looking for obedience. Though these types of leaders can often be generous with salary and bonuses, they expect perfection.  This atmosphere creates dependent and compliant workers who cannot freely voice their opinions. This methodology may increase production, but tends to take away employees’ dynamic creativity.

Traditional. The Traditional Manager typically has moderate concern for both production and people. They’re all about ‘balance.’ Though not the worst type of management style, Traditional leadership can produce ‘analysis paralysis’ when the manager cannot satisfy the production expectations or staff needs.

Collaborative. This style of leadership shows an equally high level of concern for production and people. The Collaborative Manager’s objective is to create employee satisfaction through the work itself.  This style allows for stimulating challenges for employees, along with the support and resources they need to meet challenges.

The first four styles of leadership — Bureaucratic, Supportive, Directive, Traditional — view the needs of people and production as inherently in conflict. As a result, these leaders end up choosing one or the other, or try to establish a static balance between the two. The Directive Manager will sacrifice employees’ needs to get the job done; the Traditional Manager will sacrifice quality or quantity if production schedules are too demanding on the staff, thereby causing a drop in morale.

Conversely, Collaborative Managers operate from a philosophy that organizational and people needs are interdependent.  They believe in a dynamic balance between people and production. Most important, the Collaborative Manager understands that team members can consistently deliver superior production results only if the company meets their needs for accomplishment.  Collaborative leaders believe that the best in production can only be achieved by giving the best to people. That means providing challenging work and expecting excellence, while at the same time empowering people through tools, training, support, and feedback.

The Collaborative Manager knows the difference between happiness and satisfaction, and recognizes that happiness ultimately comes from within.  As a result, the Collaborative Manager creates a culture where achievement breeds satisfaction, and satisfaction generates further achievement in the best kind of positive feedback loop. Ultimately, the Collaborative Manager is just that: collaborative. This type of leader proactively seeks input from employees in both planning and execution. Through regular feedback on performance, they are able to treat people’s mistakes as growth opportunities. Though  often be the toughest managers to work for, Collaborative Managers foster an environment of growth and achievement that in turn creates an emphasis on company excellence and personal satisfaction.

Any type of leadership style but the Collaborative style will provide short-term gain, but long-term pain. Though managers can employ all leadership styles in varying degrees, each manager should strive to be a Collaborative, empowering manager.

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