Navigating Leadership Styles: The Balancing Act of Benign, Absolute, and Democratic Leadership or is there another way?

🔍 Seeking to refine your leadership style or curious about what style suits you best?

✨ Introducing a fresh perspective on leadership in our latest article: “The Evolution of Leadership: Embracing the Adaptive Leadership Style.”

📚 In this article, I dissect three leadership styles: the benign, absolute, and democratic leader. I uncover the strengths of each, and how they can synergise to create a balanced and effective team dynamic.

💡 But, the exploration doesn’t stop there. I propose a transformative approach to leadership – The Adaptive Leader. This style embodies the empathy of a benign leader, the decisiveness of an absolute leader, and the collaborative spirit of a democratic leader.

🚀 The Adaptive Leader is equipped to navigate the dynamic business landscape with flexibility, responsiveness, and a keen focus on both people and performance.

🔁 Transitioning to an adaptive leadership style may seem daunting, but with self-awareness, feedback, and continuous learning, it is entirely achievable.

The result? A highly engaged, innovative, and successful team.

📖 Ready to embark on this journey towards adaptive leadership? Dive into the full article and discover the leader you can become.

Let’s change the way we lead. Share your thoughts and let’s start the conversation about adaptive leadership!

🚀 You could also take a look at my new community which is all about leadership and change and see if it could help you with your leadership transformation


May 16, 2023

I wanted to examine different leadership styles and try and work out, for myself, what type of leader should I be and should I have liked the description of my leadership style that I was labelled with way back then!

Leadership is not a one-size-fits-all concept, but rather a dynamic blend of styles adapting to the needs of the organisation. Let’s delve deeper into the practical implications of three distinct leadership styles: the benign, absolute, and democratic leader, and how they can be harmonised within a leadership team. Additionally, I’ve come up with the type of leader I want to be now and introduce a new leadership archetype that embodies the best of these styles.

Benign Leadership in Practice

Benign leaders excel at fostering a positive, nurturing environment. They prioritise employee welfare, driving engagement, and motivation. However, a purely benign leader might struggle when tough decisions are required. In a balanced leadership team, the benign leader’s empathy and consideration can be complemented by more decisive colleagues, thereby ensuring both employee satisfaction and efficient decision-making.

Absolute Dictatorial Leadership in Practice

Absolute leaders can provide clear, unwavering direction, essential in crises or high-stakes situations. However, their autocratic approach may suppress creativity and innovation. Within a leadership team, the absolute leader’s decisiveness can be balanced by colleagues who promote collaboration and open dialogue. This mitigates the risk of disengagement and fosters a more innovative and inclusive environment.

Democratic Leadership in Practice

Democratic leaders stimulate collaboration, enhancing creativity and promoting a sense of ownership among employees. However, the democratic process can be time-consuming, potentially delaying critical decisions. In a diverse leadership team, democratic leaders can be complemented by more directive colleagues, ensuring both inclusivity and efficiency.

Introducing the Adaptive Leader

The best type of leader, I think and the one I now want to be, is one who can adapt their leadership style to the needs of the team and the demands of the situation – an Adaptive Leader. An Adaptive Leader embodies the empathy of a benign leader, the decisiveness of an absolute leader, and the collaborative spirit of a democratic leader. They demonstrate flexibility, adjusting their approach based on the situation while maintaining a focus on both people and performance.

An Adaptive Leader in Practice

In the dynamic landscape of business, the ability to adapt is paramount. This holds particularly true for leadership, where the ability to navigate changing circumstances can mean the difference between success and failure. While the benign, absolute, and democratic leadership styles each have their merits, the Adaptive Leader – one who encompasses the best qualities of each style and adjusts their approach as needed – stands out as the ideal.

The Superiority of Adaptive Leadership

The Adaptive Leader is a visionary who understands that flexibility and responsiveness are key in a rapidly evolving business environment. They balance the nurturing nature of a benign leader, the decisiveness of an absolute leader, and the collaborative ethos of a democratic leader.

Adaptive Leaders are uniquely equipped to drive organisational success. Their empathetic nature encourages a positive, inclusive workplace culture, which promotes employee engagement and retention. Their decisiveness ensures swift and effective decision-making, vital in high-stakes business scenarios. Finally, their commitment to democratic principles nurtures a sense of ownership among team members, stimulating creativity, and innovation.

Transitioning to Adaptive Leadership

Transitioning to an adaptive leadership style requires self-awareness, openness to feedback, and a commitment to continuous learning. Here are some strategies to consider if you think this is for you:

  1. Embrace Learning: Leaders seeking to become more adaptive should adopt a growth mindset, viewing challenges as opportunities for learning and improvement.
  2. Seek Feedback: Regular feedback from colleagues and team members can provide valuable insights into how your leadership style is perceived and where adjustments may be needed.
  3. Develop Emotional Intelligence: Emotional intelligence, including empathy and self-awareness, is crucial for understanding the needs and motivations of your team, and for adjusting your leadership style in response.
  4. Foster Collaboration: Encourage open dialogue and collaboration, respecting diverse perspectives and fostering a sense of ownership and engagement among team members.
  5. Be Decisive: Don’t shy away from making tough decisions. Demonstrate your ability to provide clear direction and make decisive choices when necessary.
  6. Adapt and Evolve: Be prepared to adjust your leadership style as circumstances change. Monitor the effectiveness of your leadership and be ready to make changes when needed.

While the benign, absolute, and democratic leadership styles each have their strengths, the Adaptive Leader stands out as the most effective in today’s dynamic business environment. By balancing empathy, decisiveness, and collaboration, and by demonstrating a willingness to adapt as circumstances change, the Adaptive Leader is well-equipped to guide their team to success. Transitioning to this leadership style requires a commitment to continuous learning and development, but the rewards – a highly engaged, innovative, and successful team – are well worth the effort.

Why wouldn’t we all want to be like this?