Business Leadership Today

Types of Leaders Who Practice Positive Leadership


Matt Tenney, Author of Inspire Greatness: How to Motivate Employees with a Simple, Repeatable, Scalable Process

There are many different types of leaders and leadership styles, some more effective than others. The effectiveness of any type of leader depends on a number of factors, including the level of experience and expertise of team members, the priorities of the organization, and its long-term goals.

Some leaders focus on the day-to-day operational duties, while others focus primarily on what they want their teams to accomplish in the future. 

Some leaders are more effective in situations where quick decision-making and meeting deadlines are most important. Others are better suited to teams that can work with autonomy, with little oversight, or in organizations that value innovation and creativity. 

Being a good leader means being able to make an assessment of the teams we lead, clearly identifying and communicating the goals we want them to achieve, and determining how we can help them achieve those goals.  

The most effective leaders tend to have a high degree of self-awareness, invite employees to participate in decision-making, and develop individuals by forging strong relationships with team members and inspiring them to do well. They assess the current reality and their team’s abilities and needs to determine what team members need to do great work. 

This type of leader practices positive leadership.

Types of leaders who utilize principles of positive leadership include authentic leaders, transformational leaders, charismatic leaders, and servant leaders. These are emotionally intelligent leaders who motivate their team members by maintaining open communication and facilitating the growth of individuals. 

In this article, we’ll discuss types of leaders who practice positive leadership and the advantages and disadvantages of each type of leadership.

Positive Leadership

Positive leadership includes the following components:

  • Experiencing, modeling, and purposefully enhancing positive emotions
  • Developing employees while maintaining profitability
  • Demonstrating a high degree of self-awareness, optimism, and personal integrity

These types of leaders encourage and motivate their team members to do great work through communication, accountability, emotional intelligence, motivation, and a model-worthy work ethic.

In this video, Jon Gordon, acclaimed author of The Power of Positive Leadership, discusses how positive thinking and practices help leaders both set the example for the behaviors they want to see from their teams and create a high-performance culture that keeps employees motivated to do their best work.

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Authentic Leaders

Authentic leaders bring their true selves to work. This type of leadership focuses on building authentic, trust-based relationships with team members and communicating in open and honest ways. 

Authentic leaders are interested in the bottom line, but they are more interested in the people they lead. They are passionate about their work, embrace and learn from mistakes, and support inclusive work environments that value contributions from all team members. 

They are true to themselves and guided by a strong set of principles, ethics, and values, which are aligned with the organization’s mission, vision, and values. They model these values for employees to guide their actions and behaviors. 

This type of leadership is characterized by high engagement, enthusiasm, and motivation, making it an effective form of leadership. It requires a great deal of emotional intelligence, so it could be difficult for leaders who don’t possess a high EQ. 

Transformational Leaders

Transformational leaders are focused on getting their teams to buy into the vision and unite over a shared sense of purpose that keeps them motivated to perform well. 

These leaders are supportive of their employees and use empathy, recognition, and empowerment to energize their teams, help them achieve positive outcomes, and motivate them to go above and beyond to achieve the vision. 

There is a high level of trust, motivation, commitment, and potential to inspire great work, high performance, and positive outcomes, with a focus on achieving long-term, big-picture goals.

Transformational leaders can, however, end up placing too much emphasis on long-term goals at the expense of day-to-day operations and short-term goals if they are not intentional in how they communicate expectations. It can also slow decision-making and lead to employee burnout over time.

Charismatic Leaders

Charismatic leaders are passionate and seek to inspire the same level of passion in their team members. As charismatic leadership is characterized by a strong system of communication and persuasiveness, the charisma of the leader is often the motivating factor.

Charismatic leaders are adept at articulating a vision and mobilizing their teams around it. They are able to engage employees with their work, define clear goals for them to achieve, encourage a strong spirit of collaboration, and view mistakes as learning opportunities.

While this type of leadership can inspire greatness, it is not for everyone. A natural amount of charisma and the ability to communicate one’s passion for the mission and vision are essential to charismatic leadership. 

Course correcting under charismatic leaders can be difficult, and employees may struggle to adjust and find their own motivation when a charismatic leader leaves the organization. 

Servant Leaders

Servant leadership is a non-traditional style of leadership that places an emphasis on building trust with team members and fostering their growth. 

Servant leaders work continuously to build strong, authentic relationships with their followers. They achieve this through listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and community building.

The goal of servant leadership is to build authority and influence through supporting and serving employees and avoids the potentially toxic, more controlling tactics employed in some leadership styles and the hands-off approach of others.

Due to the focus on building strong relationships and the growth of people, servant leadership can create a tremendous amount of cultural buy-in and contributes to a positive employee experience, high employee engagement, and high employee satisfaction. 

This kind of leadership can be challenging to maintain for a leader who is not prepared to put the work into building authentic relationships, but, for the leader who is truly committed to bringing out the best in their teams, there are many rewards.

We recently sat down with Laurie Sudbrink, Business Leadership Today contributor and author of Leading with GRIT: Inspiring Action and Accountability with Generosity, Respect, Integrity, and Truth, to discuss how servant leaders lead their teams to greatness by taking a holistic approach to leadership. 

Laurie says, “Servant leadership is no more than considering what needs to happen as a whole, rather than just thinking what needs to happen at the top.”

The key to this type of leadership is learning how to be a good self-leader.

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Matt Tenney has been working to help organizations develop leaders who improve employee engagement and performance since 2012. He is the author of three leadership books, including the groundbreaking, highly acclaimed book Inspire Greatness: How to Motivate Employees with a Simple, Repeatable, Scalable Process.

Matt’s ideas have been featured in major media outlets and his clients include numerous national associations and Fortune 500 companies.

He is often invited to deliver keynote speeches at conferences and leadership meetings, and is known for delivering valuable, actionable insights in a way that is memorable and deeply inspiring.

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