Characteristics of a Good Leader: Leadership Styles in the Workplace

Good leadership includes a shared vision.
Good leadership includes a shared vision. | Source

Leadership in the Workplace

When most people hear the word leader in reference to the workplace, they often assume that you are referring to the boss or manager of the company. Although this is a position of power, it is not necessarily a person who is a leader. Leaders come in many forms and positions within a company. A leader is anyone who engages the people around them to bring a shared vision to the forefront of the company in order to achieve success.

What makes an effective leader?

Good leaders or bosses have certain characteristics. I'm sure that you can think of bosses who have been great leaders that you have worked for and you may have had bosses who are not great leaders and seem to take your place of business in a direction on his or her own. So what makes the good leaders stand out from the others?

  • Leaders are good listeners. It behooves the leader to listen to the concerns along with the compliments of every employee within the company with an open mind.
  • Leaders encourage others to be their best by setting a positive example. No one wants to hear a leader complain or nag. Criticism is important, but it must be done constructively. If an employee continually feels attacked or under the radar, he or she will not put forth his or her very best.
  • Leaders know the difference between when it is important to step up and take charge and when to let others have an opportunity to shine.
  • Leaders recognize hard work. Everyone wants to be noticed, it is human nature.
  • Leaders are self reflective and encourage his or her employees to do the same.

Types of Leaders

My master's degree is in educational leadership. We spent much of our course work discussing types of leaders within a school system. The two types of leaders that were discussed were transactional leaders and transformational leaders. Although this was a course in educational leadership, I think that the basic principles of the two styles can be applied in any work setting. Of course there are always leaders who will fall specifically into one of these categories, but more likely than not, they will be a blend of the two.

Transactional Leader

Transactional leaders are the old do what I tell you type of leaders. In fact, they are not really leaders in the sense of having the knowledge of how to bring a group of people to successfully accomplish a goal. They are merely a boss who tells a group of employees how to do their jobs.

Transactional leaders operate from a system of networks that move from the top down. Those in the ivory tower and making the decisions for those in the trenches. I'm sure that many of us can relate to this type of boss.

Transformational Leader

A transformational leader does just that. He or she transforms the current bureaucratic system of operations to one that is collaborative and reflective. The transformational leader is not interested in the immediate rise in profit or productivity but is much more interested in working as a team to build moral and capacity within the organizational system. Once the group feels that they have a stake in this company, the rise in productivity and profit will come naturally as this will often be part of the shared vision of the entire group. This type of leader believes that we are all in this together. Transformational leaders create buy in among employees.

I always enjoy watching the tv show, Undercover Boss. Although there are times when the bosses get upset with what they see some employees doing in their company, most of the time they realize that many of the practices and policies that they have set up or enforced are not reasonable or good for the average employee and ultimately for the company as a whole. They often walk away thinking about the change that can be made because of the experiences that they had as an average employee within the company and listening to the concerns of those who are working those jobs on a daily basis.

If you are looking to improve your practice as a leader, look to your employees. They will provide you with a wealth of information if you are willing to listen.

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Comments 36 comments

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Very interesting topic on leadership. Leadership is an art and takes practice to perfect. Your definitions help to understand the different types and how you might fall into one of the categories.

farmloft profile image

farmloft 4 years ago from Michigan

I like the self reflective value of leaders and how they encourage it in others. I also love watching Undercover Boss :)

Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Well done Cara, nicely done. I like the various types of leadership styles. You have captured the skills sets and styles very succinctly. voted up! I have also done something similar in my hub and I wish I had your expertise in concise writing. Mine is like war and peace and I am planning a 4 part leadership skills hub!

CASE1WORKER profile image


Transactional leaders were so common when I started work early in the 1980s. I think they are less common now but those of us who have worked for quite a while, realise that they are easily replaced whilst it is the inspirational leader who is missed and hard to replace.

Voted up

ruthclark3 profile image

ruthclark3 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Excellent article. I've had both and can tell you quickly that the transformational leader is by far to be desired.

In my jobs as "peon" I have found myself as a "leader of sorts" and it's simply a matter of respect and caring about getting the job done in the best way possible while maintaining respect for others.

There's no need for friction.

radhikasree profile image

radhikasree 4 years ago from Mumbai,India

This is a nice piece on leadership skills and transformational leadership is what is required in a big enterprise I think. I learned more about leadership types from this hub. Up and useful.

Sharing with my friends here.

jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India

Informative and very useful Hub for those who want to know about leadership qualities. Thank you for sharing.

saday profile image

saday 4 years ago from India

Very interesting as well as useful post.. Voted up cardelean

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

I agree teaches12345 that leadership is an art. Like most things, the more you do it, the better you become at it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Undercover Boss always ingtrigues me farmloft! Yes, I like that part of effective leaders as well. I only wish that I had the chance to work with more leaders like that. Thanks for stopping by.

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

LOL, you're comment gave me a chuckle Docmo. I appreciate your kind words for my hub and writing skills. Unfortunately I have had a very busy weekend and have not had a chance to read all of the WTI hubs yet but definitely plan to. I'm sure your hub is not nearly as long as war peace! I always enjoy reading your hubs! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

I'd like to think that they are less common now Caseworker1 but that has not been my experience. I hope that others have had much better experiences with leaders in their workplace. Thanks for reading and commenting.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean

I like the quote by John C. Maxwell. He is one of my favorite authors. Thanks for the very helpful profile of the transformational leader.

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

Good Hub! I'm really glad to be seeing more transformational leaders out there than transactional ones. Maybe I'm just working with good people, but here's hoping it's a trend!

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

I agree ruthclark3! I had a brief encounter with a transformational leader but he was quickly run out by the others! What a wonderful work ethic you have. I'm sure that those who have worked with you have enjoyed your leadership qualities.

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

I think so too radhikasree! I'm so glad that you learned something here and I greatly appreciate the share with others!

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

You are welcome jainismus. I'm so glad that you stopped by.

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Glad you found it interesting saday. I appreciate the vote up!

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

You are so welcome MsDora. So nice to see you here today. I appreciate the comments.

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Yes, Simone, let's hope it's a trend! I haven't had such luck in that department. :(

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Very informative hub, Cara, about what makes a good leader. Thanks for sharing. Oh, how I wished I had effective leaders in the places I've worked over the many years of nursing!

Just About It profile image

Just About It 4 years ago from southern CA

A lot of great information in this hub. I am fortunate to work for a great leader and is a great friend.

theclevercat profile image

theclevercat 4 years ago from Massachusetts

"If you are looking to improve your practice as a leader, look to your employees." Absolutely! Well said, and I agree. Voted up!

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Haha, I know what you mean!

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

You are very lucky Just About It. Not everyone can say that. It is truly a gift.

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Thanks clevercat. I wish more "bosses" would actually practice this! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 4 years ago from Illinois

Good information here, Cara. Leadership and what makes a good and effective leader, etc. was a topic of a segment in my TM club recently. I wasn't aware of these 2 leadership styles. I think good leaders are hard to find.

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

I think that they are talked about more in the educational system but I think that they are still applicable in the business world as well. I agree that good leaders are hard to find. Maybe there just aren't enough role models for wonderful leaders to emerge.

StellaSee profile image

StellaSee 4 years ago from California

Hi cardelean! I agree with all your bullet points on being an effective leader, especially the one about not nagging! But I think that's only true about an American employer. I've worked at a few Asian companies and I've noticed that they like to manage people in a way that reminds you of your parents and it can feel like ugh.

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Don't you just despise naggers?! That's interesting but not very surprising about the differences in the way each of those countries run their companies. So glad that you stopped by to read and comment.

Sandy Frost profile image

Sandy Frost 4 years ago from India

An excellent hub. It teaches a lot about leadership skills and styles. If we look at the journey of successful leaders, either political personalities or enterpreneurs, we find that they didn't become a successful maestro in a day. They were like normal persons and dealt with same situations like others but what the difference they made was dealing with those situations and finding out solutions in a different and righteous way. They never became a slave of circumstances, built their own paths and helped others by leading them on right tracks. That's the way which makes them men of honour as their leadership abilities lie within what they sought from their experiences.

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Very well said Sandy Frost. I appreciate your visit and adding such insightful comments to this hub.

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India

Very informative hub on leadership.

In life, sometime or the other, all of us have to be leaders. Our leadership qualities are demanded both at work place and at home.

Thanks for sharing this.

cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan Author

I agree thumbi7. The question is, how effective of a leader will we be? Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my hub.

nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

Leadership qualities are definitely important in all workplaces. Unfortunately, too many employees are promoted upwards, without developing good leadership skills - I've been placed under several 'managers' who set poor examples, didn't listen, didn't provide recognition, and some didn't even plan projects (she'll be right mate!?!) A poor leader can really badly damage employee morale.

On the other hand, I've had some excellent managers too - and if these positions weren't short term contracts, I would have been happy to continue in them!

manatita44 profile image

manatita44 3 years ago from london

Interesting take on leadership. Some great points. I was taught a different way but it's good to read from another school. Thanks.

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