A good leader is one who can motivate and guide a group of people to achieve a common goal. However, there are different types of leaders, having different leadership styles. In effect, they're all leaders, but the ways and means that motivate them to their goals, define their style of leadership. For instance, Adolf Hitler was an autocratic leader, while Mahatma Gandhi was a situational or follower-centric leader. This article will describe the leadership styles that are most popular in the political and organizational setting, along with their advantages and disadvantages.
The Charismatic Leader
A charismatic leader is perceived as someone who has a magical ability to lead a group of people and transform any situation in their favor. A charismatic leader is proven to be more effective because of the power he wields, as a result of his charm and grace. It is also easier for him to develop trust among people by ensuring their involvement in the process of growth and development. He is someone who can clearly visualize the future. Thus, people almost attribute to him a God-like quality, and generally, follow him to the last word. The charismatic leader can, thus, also be described as the visionary leader.
The major advantage of this style is that it can prove to be excellent to achieve positive changes and results. On the other hand, it can also be misused for personal gains. With his personal charm and charisma, John F. Kennedy, once the president of America, was undoubtedly the most prominent charismatic leader. Other examples are Bill Clinton, also once the president of America, Saddam Hussein, the leader of Iraq, and Rajiv Gandhi, once the prime minister of India.
The Transformational Leader
A transformational leader is someone who is so passionate, as to rub off his vision and passion on his followers. A transformational leader cares about the growth of his people, and ensures the same by convincing his people to comply with his vision. He is enthusiastic and committed towards achieving the goal, which may or may not be clear. Even so, he will readily participate in exploring different possibilities that will lead to the goal. Even if the vision is unclear, the direction will always be clear with a transformational leader. Therefore, he may be similar to a participative or democratic leader, who involves his followers in the decision-making process. He will gather large groups of people through various ceremonies to pump them up with the same level of enthusiasm he feels. The most important characteristic of a transformational leader is the deep level of commitment that he has towards attaining his goal. Martin Luther King is the best example of a transformational leader. He appealed to a large audience and led to a revolution in the way black people were perceived.
A transformational leader is one who will attain a goal with his belief in his people, as opposed to the charismatic leader, who believes himself to be the reason for goal attainment. The major disadvantage of a transformational leader is that sometimes his level of enthusiasm can wear out his followers, in case goal attainment is delayed. In such a case, he will be seen as someone who is always as charged up, however, with no assurance of results.
The Transactional Leader
A sharp contrast to the charismatic and transformational leader, the transactional leader functions on the simple logic, that rewards and punishment will stimulate his people to perform better. A transactional leader will define clear rules and framework to function by and will expect his subordinates to be completely responsible for the work delegated to them. As such, their performance will determine whether they will be rewarded or punished. This kind of leadership is generally followed in large organizations, and in some ways is an effective tool of corporate leadership. Here, employees are not involved in the process of decision-making. They are just means to the end of goal attainment.
The primary advantage of this method is the reinforcements used to promote performance. On the other hand, it ignores other factors such as emotional and social values that contribute to the performance of an employee. As such, this may not be as effective a style as transformational leadership.
Every individual has his own way of functioning, but essentially, he will fall into one of the defined categories of leadership. Leadership primarily depends on the ability to guide a group of people towards achieving any given goal. It is only when revered by this group, that a person becomes a leader and adopts different leadership styles.