Which Leadership Styles Are the Most Effective?

Posted by The Align Team on Feb 15, 2017 8:07:00 AM

A fantastic leader can make or break an organization. Effective leaders inspire their teams to persevere and achieve their audacious goals, while poor leaders can drive their companies into the mud.

While there are a variety of tactics that leaders can employ, it’s important to consider the benefits of different leadership styles and evaluate which leadership styles are the most effective when your executive team is hoping to scale up your company quickly. With President’s Day approaching and politics an oft-discussed topic, let’s explore the benefits of different leadership styles based on strategies employed by former U.S. presidents.

The Benefits of Different Leadership Styles


Every president has a different leadership style which affects the way in which he leads the country. American presidents are often judged based on the following characteristics: their effectiveness as a public communicator, organizational capacity, political skill, vision, cognitive style, and emotional intelligence. While many of the former U.S. presidents have been excellent communicators and orators, their abilities in the other areas have largely helped shaped their leadership styles.

For instance, Thomas Jefferson is often described as a visionary leader, able to imagine what the future of the U.S. would look like and what steps the country needed to take to get there. In addition to being the author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson also was forward-thinking with several of his other viewpoints. His views on religion and slavery, and his sympathy with the French Revolution were some of Jefferson’s opinions which others used to label him a radical. While Jefferson held many contentious viewpoints, he definitely set the stage for a new America and could visualize its progress.

Visionary leadership styles are particularly effective in today’s dynamic business environment. Leaders who can adapt their business strategies to meet new needs can set their companies up for success and avoid stagnation or business failure. Big-picture thinking allows them to create long-term goals, inspire innovation, and envision their future successes.

In contrast to Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln was often labeled a transformational leader, adept at raising levels of engagement and empowering his followers. Scholars believe that Lincoln’s ability to understand human dynamics and effectively engage the American public was a key reason he was able to hold the union together.  Another way Lincoln exhibited transformational leadership concerns his interactions with the American soldiers during the Civil War.  By maintaining close contact with the Union soldiers, he was able to build trust among the military and rally the troops around his cause.

Just as Lincoln was able to unite two disparate segments of the country, transformational leaders often include important players in their interactions, bringing diverse people together to solve problems. Transformational leaders also excel at increasing team motivation and employee satisfaction and retention. This leadership style is pivotal in terms of increasing growth and inspiring employees to be A+ team members.

A third leadership style is exemplified by former president George W. Bush. Bush was often considered to have a direct or decisive leadership style, particularly in the way he addressed issues head on and didn’t waste time when making decisions. Several examples include his declaration of the war on terror following the September 11th terrorist attacks and subsequent foreign policy decisions as well as the way he set the nation’s policy agenda. Bush was also known to make intuitive decisions after discussing the data with advisers, but he was unlikely to ruminate on different courses of action or second-guess his decisions. Those close to Bush also claimed that he was a great “one-minute manager” preferring short briefings rather than drawn-out meetings.

One of the benefits of this leadership style is the ability to carry out your agenda and enforce change effectively. Decisive leaders in business are quick to stay on top of their competition and likely to avoid career stagnation. They forge ahead, and can often help companies scale up quickly and eliminate redundancy. The decisive leadership style goes hand-in-hand with the daily huddle meeting format which prioritizes efficiency and time-management.

While each former U.S. president had to contest with unique hurdles and challenges, examining the benefits of different leadership styles can help us as entrepreneurs decide which strategy best suits our company’s needs. See which leadership styles are most effective for your industry, organization, and team in order to help your company scale up quickly and achieve your growth goals. Interested in which leadership style you use most often? Take this brief quiz to discover your leadership legacy.

For more information on how to stay on track to meet your growth goals, download our strategic one-page plan template. 


Topics: employee management, leadership, founder

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