7 leadership styles (and how to use them)

February 21, 2022

There are countless leadership styles for managers and other decision-makers to choose from. However, choosing a style that works for you and your warehouse can be overwhelming — especially during times of change, uncertainty or confusion.

Today, we're providing an overview of seven important leadership styles and giving a few examples of how, when or why you might use them — as well as when you may prefer to steer clear. Once you've read these tips, there will be only one thing left to decide: what kind of leader you want to become.

1: Autocratic
If you had complete control over your team and didn't take their opinions when making decisions, you'd be an autocratic leader, according to Business News Daily. This leadership style has definite disadvantages, especially when it comes to building morale — but if you need to make a quick choice (for example, during a crisis), it may be a good approach.

2: Bureaucratic
Bureaucratic leaders are focused on making sure everyone follows the rules — usually those set by another leader or the company itself. While sticking to regulation is critical in warehousing, leaders using this style may struggle to keep teams feeling creative, innovative and free to ask questions or pose new ideas.

3: Charismatic
Some people seem like they were born to be leaders — and that's where the charismatic leadership style comes from. Well-spoken, charming and often liked by the masses, charismatic leaders guide others through positivity and positive motivation.  However, since this type of leadership is highly subjective, it may not be the easiest thing to learn.

4: Coaching
Much like their counterparts in sports, coaching leaders approach their teams with equal parts encouragement and constructive criticism. They help guide each individual based on unique needs, strengths and job performance. They rely less on charm than charismatic leaders, but they also aren't authoritarian like autocratic leaders; instead, their focus is on helping each employee be their best.

5: Democratic
As the name suggests, democratic leaders let the group decide — no matter how big or small the decision. This can certainly build morale and help teams come together to navigate challenges, but it can also pose problems if the leader is unwilling to switch to a different style when opinions clash and employees arrive at an impasse. Further, according to The Ivey Academy, the decision-making process employed in this leadership style can be time-consuming and, thus, not always a good fit for crisis situations.

6: Delegative
When leaders trust their workers to do what needs to be done, they're using the delegative leadership style. This builds trust among employees and allows the leader to focus on other tasks — but it also opens doors for mistakes, inefficiencies and lack of direction.

7: Servant
In warehousing, it's easy to get caught up in the needs of consumers and stakeholders. However, servant-style leaders put their people's needs first instead, focusing on supporting individuals in any way necessary. This type of leader often pays more attention to the big picture — for example, entire communities — than the more granular aspects of their role.