You will read about several different styles of leadership, the merits and downsides to each, and how to determine which style is right for you.

No Two Are Alike
Just as no two snowflakes are exactly alike, no two people lead in exactly the same way. This topic, however, outlines several of the most common leadership styles.

Depending on the group he or she has to lead, a successful leader may adhere stringently to the rules of one kind of leadership or can combine aspects of different styles.

As you read about the different aspects of leadership styles, make notes about concepts that appeal to you or that you think might work in your situation. Don’t feel compelled to adhere to one style’s set of rules and boundaries. Be flexible.

You’ve probably run across a dictator in you life. Like the political leaders the name is borrowed from, dictators tend to keep decision-making power and most critical knowledge to themselves.

Characteristics Of Dictatorship
Here is a list of typical characteristics of a dictator:

  • No questions asked. The dictator lays down the law in his or her group and expects individuals to perform without questioning his or her authority.
  • Knowledge is power. The dictator rightly believes that knowledge is one of the keys to power. For this reason, the dictator will often keep most of a unit or organization’s critical knowledge to himself and dole out only small portions of information on a need-to-know basis.
  • No mistakes. The dictator expects performance to be of the highest quality at all times. Mistakes aren’t tolerated. Mistakes usually result in dismissal or some other form of punishment for the individual.

When This Style Works Best
The dictator can be particularly effective when a group has gotten out of control and is making little or no effort to actually work. In such cases, the dictator can provide a wake-up call to team members that they are each individually responsible for carrying an equal share of the team’s weight.

The Dictator’s Downside
The dictator style of leadership can be hard for both the leader and the team members. The dictator is not known for creating a creative, trusting work environment. The dictator also runs an incredibly high risk of being disliked by his unit.

The dictator will also not reap the benefits of his team’s creativity. If the supervisor does not have knowledge of the team’s status and objectives, team members may not be able to perform to the best of their abilities.

The “Almost” Democracy
The “almost” democracy is a bit more lenient than a dictatorship. The leader in this situation strives to make sure the group is well informed and participating in the direction of the team as a whole.

For example, Kate holds regular staff meetings each morning for her team. In the staff meeting, she outlines the agenda she has prepared for the day, then turns the floor over to the staff. The staff can then state their point of view about the agenda or propose an entirely different one. Kate then has the power to agree or veto the staff’s ideas.

Characteristics Of The “Almost” Democracy
Here is a list of the characteristics of this type of leadership:

  • Participation. The leader engages the team in most aspects of business, making sure that each team member is equally aware of what is going on throughout the unit.
  • Encouraging debate. The leader recognizes the value of debate and competition and encourages team members to participate in setting new directions for the unit.
  • Veto power. The leader’s absolute power is what gives this style of leadership the “almost” in its title. Although the leader encourages participation, he or she ultimately will make the final decision on all matters of importance to the unit.

When This Style Works Best
The “almost” democracy works best when you’re leading a highly innovation staff that still needs direction. Although they have tons of ideas, quality doesn’t always equal quality. The leader is responsible for determining right and wrong.