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Has your leadership style kept up with the times, or is it on the verge of extinction?

Posted by Deepshikha Shukla

April 14, 2022    |     6-minute read (1030 words)

Many leadership practices that made sense even a decade ago are outdated now as more agile and collaborative leadership approaches gain traction. Hierarchical organizations that do not provide employees with autonomy or consider their input don't work anymore.

Technology, mobility and the rise of a generation of digital-native graduates are shifting workplace demands more quickly, thus making certain traditional leadership practices no longer applicable. 

Why you should update your traditional leadership style

The command and control leadership model that may have worked in the past is on the verge of extinction, and companies that don't adjust may find it very hard to recruit and retain talent. This old leadership style doesn't only decrease employee morale, but it can also affect employees’ decision-making.

Companies where employees feel respected and have the autonomy to make decisions can attract and retain top talent more successfully than those that don’t. Employees who endure micromanagement or are strictly scrutinized by their managers, particularly those in younger generations, will likely gravitate to new jobs where they have a sense of ownership.

Technology and social media advances have changed how employees engage in the workplace. With a simple computer search, employees can check what salary they should be earning compared to their counterparts in the marketplace. And if they are not satisfied with their compensation or experience at work, they can walk away or take action.

Old versus new leadership style

Many organizations still practice the same old outdated hierarchical and rigid style of leadership, where managers command their teams, enforce inflexible policies and don’t welcome input from employees. Companies favoring the old leadership style were mostly managed by men and women were excluded from official leadership decisions altogether. Also, there was little diversity. The top reason HR managers cited for the longstanding lack of diversity in leadership roles was "not having enough diverse leadership talent in the pipeline."

Old CEOs New CEOs
Rooted in the community in which they work Often from outside the organization
Grew up in the industry May have never worked in the industry
Hired for familiarity with the operations and workers Hired for connections, social capital, and strategic mastery and agility
Follow traditional command and control management style Leader with vulnerability and agility
Akin to patriarch or matriarch Akin to a professional sports coach


People need leaders with empathy, compassion and an ability to show support. Leaders who follow new leadership styles solicit multiple perspectives and know that differing opinions can improve a team's creativity over time. The new generation of leaders creates a collaborative and team-based work environment to empower their employees to use their judgment. The culture of engagement and empowerment leads to greater employee loyalty and improves financial success. 

Today’s leaders are more actively involved in the details of the business as facilitators and coaches, while workers are becoming more autonomous self-leaders to help businesses achieve their goals. New CEOs collaborate with many other executives, including chief HR officers, COOs, and CFOs before making a final decision. A culture where there isn't fear of failure or a desire for perfection allows people to bring their best selves to work.

Leadership models that leaders must practice

Leadership models are a continually evolving network of leadership theories and behavioral structures that leaders can use to adjust and improve their management style to maximize their efficacy and impact. Here we’ve detailed eight key leadership styles employed by the heads of successful businesses.

1. Transformational

Integrity and vision are the core qualities of transformational leaders. Research has consistently found women tend to adopt a more transformational leadership style, which includes demonstrating compassion, care, concern, respect and equality. 

2. Transactional

Transactional leadership is a straightforward, rewards-based model. Some studies have shown that men are more likely to follow a transactional approach, which encompasses a task-focused, achievement-oriented and directive style of management.

3. Democratic and laissez-faire

Democratic leaders seek out the input and perspectives of their staff before making a final decision. However, a laissez-faire leader provides required tools to employees and then steps back to let them work everything else out. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg insists on constant innovation from his workers, balancing three core leadership styles to do so (autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire).

4. Vulnerability

Vulnerable leaders have a mindset that enables them to see through the eyes of the people who they lead by letting them drive the conversation. Vulnerable leaders also inspire employees to feel more involved, connected and loyal to the company.

5. Ethical

Practicing the ethical model of leadership brings a balance of logic and a sense of justice, with deep reverence for the rights of everyone involved. Safra A. Catz an American billionaire banker and CEO of Oracle Corporation prioritizes emotional intelligence over technical acumen while seeking new talent. She believes that performance can always be improved if collaboration survives on an open dialogue.

6. Coaching

A coaching leader works with individual staff members to develop their strengths in order to improve the overall success of the organization. Such leaders build collaborative relationships and provide emotional support to their teams.

7. Value-driven

By following business leadership practices that promote clear purpose and values, leaders can help their workers increase productivity. This also helps businesses empower their employees to make decisions independently based on the best information they have at the time. 

8. Empathy

Effective communication, such as asking about others' well-being, showing empathy and giving feedback correctly, can build mutual trust among employees. Empathetic executives make employees feel motivated and inspired.

Takeaway 

Organizations need leaders who can adapt and adjust their approaches to meet the demands of a fast-changing, unpredictable world. Therefore, instead of perfecting a specific leadership method, leaders need to develop and broaden their behavioral range to become versatile leaders. Leaders should use multiple styles, depending on the situation in which they operate, and the people involved.  

No matter which leadership model you follow, it’s smart to learn them all to grow as a leader and to influence your staff. Taking inspiration from some of the greatest leaders of your time and using their stories can help leaders to perform better than those who can do a few things very well. 

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