7 Leadership Styles Straight Out Of History

by Jessica Zartler / April 12, 2016

What makes a good leader? From Martin Luther King, to Steve Jobs, to Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill, there are numerous ways to approach leadership. Thankfully, psychologists and business scholars have developed a framework to describe and categorize the main ways people lead. Whether you tend towards charisma, a systematic approach or lead by example, understanding the nuances between leadership types can help you to become a more effective leader.

Here are the seven most common leadership styles, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each style and classic historic examples of each. Which leadership style do you follow and which can you adapt to be more well-rounded?

      1.  Transformational Leadership

 Walt Disney

ADVANTAGES: Transformational leaders inspire their followers. This type of manager uses the beliefs and morals of their colleagues to motivate them to accomplish tasks. In this synergistic relationship, the leader and the followers raise one another to higher levels of achievement and morale. This type of leadership can create a sense of purpose and meaning in projects.

DISADVANTAGES: Although inspiring, because the transformational approach is rooted in the intellect, it sometimes lacks in the action department. Inspiring colleagues and getting everyone on board is one thing, but creating actionable tasks is another. These types of leaders can read further to find out How to Have Meetings that Result in Action and turn their enthusiasm into completed team projects.

EXAMPLES: Walt Disney,  Martin Luther King

      2.  Bureaucratic Leadership

 Ferdinand II

ADVANTAGES: As evident in its name, bureaucratic leaders always follow the rules. Their systematic approach makes sure nothing falls through the cracks and routine tasks are always completed and done so on time. These leaders are best when working with safety, large sums of money and great at leading a team to complete routine tasks. This leader usually excels at delegation, having procedures in place to support that. Employees who need structure love to work under Bureaucratic bosses and they are always seen as fair by colleagues.

DISADVANTAGES: Organizations that rely on flexibility, innovation and creativity, like startups, will not employ bureaucratic leaders with a rigid framework. Often, the bureaucratic leader is so obsessed with performing the process, they never stop and ask if it is the best use of resources or if the process needs change or updating.

EXAMPLES: Montezuma, Ferdinand II, Colin Powell

      3.  Situational Leadership

 Margaret Thatcher

ADVANTAGES: These leaders tend to be the best at “just going with it.” They are nimble, flexible and can quickly read people and situations to see what tools are best suited to the job. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of their employees and adjust to whatever projects they are thrown. These leaders tend to be as dynamic as the challenges they are faced with and always survive through adaptation.

DISADVANTAGES: Situational leaders have a bit of an issue with attention span. They are great in reactive situations but when it comes to long-term planning and strategies, these are not the managers for the job. These leaders need to work to improve their focus and work to set up systems so they do not repeat work. Situational leaders can use Taskworld to set up project templates and repeating tasks to save time.

EXAMPLES: Dwight Eisenhower, Margaret Thatcher

      4.  Charismatic Leadership

 Winston Churchill

ADVANTAGES: The charismatic leader uses his or her charm and personality to gain the admiration of their followers. SImilar to the transformational leader, they have an incredibly high emotional intelligence, however, they are less concerned with transforming the organization and more concerned about success. These leaders can help to create a high morale on the team by making everyone feel heard and included in the decision making process.

DISADVANTAGES: This kind of leader may sometimes be concerned most with their own ambitions and may think they can do no wrong. The charismatic leader’s feelings of invincibility may hurt the company or organization if their ego outgrows their concern for the team.

EXAMPLES: Cesar Chavez, Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton

      5.  Servant Leadership

 Mahatma Gandhi

ADVANTAGES: The servant leader puts the team above him or herself, making sure everyone’s needs are met on the team. Their high level of integrity and ethics motivate team members to follow suit, inspiring honesty and hard work. Supporters of this leadership style say in a world needing better values and philanthropy, this way of leadership is a great way to inspire motivation.

DISADVANTAGES: Servant leaders may be last on the promotion list because they fly under the radar. They may go too far in putting their team members needs above the project, to their own dismay. Because this leadership style requires time to build, Servant leaders may not be good at making quick decisions or meeting tight deadlines.

EXAMPLES: Mother Teresa, Gandhi, George Washington

      6.  Transactional Leadership

 Charles De Gaulle

ADVANTAGES: The transactional leader uses rewards and punishment for the basis of their philosophy to motivate their team. Bad work gets the stick and good work gets the carrot. These “transactions” allow for clear roles, responsibilities and expectations and can be great for employees motivated by external compensation, such as compensation.

DISADVANTAGES: This type of leadership can sometimes be seen as chilling and amoral. The stick and carrot system only allows for black and white and as we all know, the world is oft times more grey. Team members under a transactional leader can often do little to improve their job satisfaction so this leadership style tends to see high turnover.

EXAMPLES: Charles De Gaulle, Joseph McCarthy

      7.  The Quiet Leader

 Abraham Lincoln

ADVANTAGES: Those who are quiet leaders believe direct, forceful and courageous actions are the exception, not the rule. They lead by example and do not force people to do what they don’t want and they don’t give order. They do what needs to be done, inspiring their followers to do the same. They operate in the background, without ego and know that attention to detail, preparation and patience solve problems. They recognize complexity and over anything else, the importance of doing the right thing.

DISADVANTAGES: These leaders tend to receive a lot of criticism for not asserting leadership or their own personality and may, therefore, miss out on any credit for their hard work. This can limit their opportunities for advancement and make them somewhat invisible to the company at large. Because they are so busy working and showing by example, the employees of quiet leaders may lack direction and clear cut strategies and long-term goals.

EXAMPLES: Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, King George VI

Every great leader has strengths and weaknesses but knowing how to wield these to the advantage of your team, company and career, can make a huge difference in your daily work. Whether you are working behind the scenes as a quiet leader or you are in meetings leading inspiring speeches as a transformational leader, analyzing the differences in approaches to leadership can make you a stronger, more well-rounded leader or manager.

All great leaders need a tool to manage their teams and projects. Use Taskworld and get the best of all approaches working in the background with clear communication and deadlines, actionable goals and team collaboration.

Subscribe to newsletter