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6 Leadership Styles in Business for the Modern Manager

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In business, the words “leader” and “manager” may be used interchangeably to describe someone in a position of power. A leader may be a manager; a manager can be a leader.

Leaders provide a clear vision for the future growth of an organization. Managers oversee teams that perform tasks required to fulfill an organization’s vision. Organizations need managers who demonstrate effective leadership styles in business to motivate employees and drive innovation.

Organizations seek professionals who are well-versed in the six leadership styles used by managers. An advanced degree or certificate in leadership and management can help prepare students to fill executive or managerial roles sought by employers.

Management and Leadership for the Modern Manager

An effective leader motivates employees to create innovative solutions to business problems, as well as increase overall business efficiency through engaged work. Managers assign everyday tasks and responsibilities that drive an organization, and ensure that employees complete these tasks. On the other hand, managers are directly responsible for overseeing a team that is focused on achieving an organization’s strategies and goals. Overall, managers are task-oriented — and leaders are people-oriented.

Through their own leadership and management styles, legendary executives such as Bill Gates, Mary Barra and Elon Musk have directly impacted consumers and markets worldwide. Though Bill Gates is known for being the genius behind Microsoft, in 2020 Gates stepped down from his role on the board of directors to focus on philanthropy efforts through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation also has committed over $250 million to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19.

Elon Musk—the founder of SpaceX and Tesla—made history on May 30, 2020, when SpaceX successfully launched astronauts into space to dock with the International Space Station and safely returned them in August. The Demo-2 mission was the first time astronauts have been sent to space from American soil since 2011.

Mary Barra made history by becoming the first female CEO of General Motors, as well as the first female to be the head of a major automotive company in the U.S. In 2018, Forbes magazine nominated Barra the second most powerful woman in business. She has been a major proponent of electric vehicles and self-driving cars, and has led the efforts of GM in investing billions of dollars into research and development into alternative fuel vehicles.

All three have proven themselves to be effective leaders because of their exceptional ability to innovate and their vision of what cutting-edge technology could be. In arenas ranging from computer systems to smartphones to electric cars, these innovators challenged, guided and worked collaboratively with their teams to develop path-breaking technology. Their leadership styles in business enabled them to manage in both innovative and administrative ways.

6 Leadership Styles in Business

Every professional in a leadership or managerial position exhibits a unique set of skills and experience that has led them to these executive roles. Modern approaches to leadership can be categorized into six leadership styles, according to consulting firm Hay McBer.

  • Pacesetting: Managers who exhibit this style of leadership are usually subject-matter experts in their field. Many managers in technology companies use this style, showing by example how tasks should be done. This leadership style encourages employees to raise their own level of performance by emulating high-achieving managers.
  • Coaching: Managers who incorporate this style are focused on training and mentoring their employees. These managers pinpoint the strengths of each employee to foster their development of professional skills. Managers with this style also exhibit a great sense of empathy for the employees they manage.
  • Affiliative: Managers that exhibit an affiliative leadership style are primarily interested in ensuring their employees feel like a cohesive unit. These managers emphasize the importance of bonding with each of their employees on an emotional level. The idea is that employees who feel closely connected to their colleagues will be inspired to perform well.
  • Directive: A manager who uses this style emphasizes the importance of the business hierarchy, where managers are the authoritative figures and make all the decisions. Managers are responsible for delegating tasks to lower-level employees and for enforcing business regulations and employee responsibilities.
  • Participative: This leadership style, also known as collaborative, emphasizes the importance of every voice in the company. Managers who practice a participative style of leadership listen to feedback from employees at all levels. This encourages employees to be open about suggesting process improvements.
  • Authoritative: Managers who use an authoritative leadership style make it known they are in charge of executing the overall vision of the organization. Successfully implementing this style often involves giving employees the freedom to decide how to meet their individual goals in support of the vision, and providing regular feedback on how they are performing.

As their careers progress, successful managers identify which of the six leadership styles they embody and how they can leverage their leadership qualities to become better managers. Some managers can develop their own style from various elements of these six leadership styles.

Skills for Incorporating Leadership Styles in Business

One of the most difficult aspects of hiring management talent is finding the right professional to fill a particular role. According to a recent Gallup poll, most organizations hire the wrong individual for a management position 82% of the time. What did they miss? Among the top traits of successful managers, according to a recent survey reported in Forbes, are honesty, positive attitude, trustworthiness, supportiveness and effective communication.

Effective managers exhibit a variety of skills that are important to employee satisfaction and fulfilling the overall vision of an organization. Managers work to inspire excellence from their employees to ensure that tasks are completed. Employees who understand the expectations placed on them by their managers often attain better results. Communication skills can help managers address conflicts within the organization.

“The best way to set yourself apart as a leader is to gain experience through volunteer work and internships,” says Lisa Martino, lecturer and academic program coordinator at the University of Central Florida’s College of Community Innovation and Education. “You can also get involved in a local, state, national or global industry association; become a member and serve in a committee or task force; write blogs; and seek out fellowship opportunities.”

Pursuing a Career in Management

Professionals who are looking to build a career in leadership and management can consider pursuing a relevant bachelor’s or advanced degree. Professionals who attain a degree also have the option of obtaining a certificate specializing in leadership and management. Degreed individuals in the subject matter are well-suited for obtaining leadership and management positions in a variety of fields, including business, education, the nonprofit sector, engineering, health services, hospitality, public administration and event management.

“UCF prepares students to become leaders in our programs through innovative curriculum practices, service learning, and internship opportunities,” explains Martino. These programs help develop future leaders in a variety of occupations, such as business consultants, finance managers, management analysts, nonprofit managers and medical health service managers.

UCF’s online master’s programs in leadership and management include classes in Career and Technical Education, Emergency and Crisis Management, Nonprofit Management, Educational Leadership and Engineering Management. UCF also offers a variety of online certificate programs in the areas of College Teaching and Leadership, Destination Marketing and Management, Local Director of Career and Technical Education, Public Administration, Corrections Leadership and Nonprofit Management.

Develop Your Leadership Style

Understanding a range of leadership styles enables professionals to recognize their own best traits as leaders and how they can leverage their skills. Throughout their professional careers, individuals in managerial and leadership positions will use leadership styles in business to deliver results for their organizations.

Explore how UCF’s online leadership and management degrees and certificates can help you advance your career.