Definitions of a leader are as varied as leadership styles. If you are aspiring to join the leadership of your community, business or organization, defining what leadership means to you is an important first step. While considering what it means to be a leader, you may find yourself defining your leadership style. If you are defining leadership as a specific title or level of seniority, you may need to adjust your thinking.

Leaders are required at every level of an organization and are not just the people with a “C” (Chief) at the beginning of their job title. Far from being limited to people in management positions, leaders can be anyone who has people following them. Leaders use their influence to ensure that team, organization or community goals are met. The influence that they wield can be in the form of charisma, empowerment, delegation, or strategic thinking.

While all leaders will utilize some form of authority or power to inspire their team to achieve their goals, how they do so will depend upon their particular leadership style.

Charismatic leaders

Charismatic leaders tend to be the stereotype of a leader that many of us envision. It is the type of personality that earns politicians votes or gets celebrities screen time. They have an energetic and passionate personality that makes others strive to please them or be near them. They are great at kick-starting their team into action. Innovative leaders are more concerned with results than personality. Problem solving and creating better processes is what drives these deep thinking leaders. While their personalities may not be as magnetic, these innovators will develop ideas that take organizations to new and exciting places.

Democratic leaders

Democratic leaders are fabulous at making every team member feel valuable. They consider each person’s input and ensure that everyone knows that they have ownership of the organization’s goals. These leaders create a workforce that is bonded together by more than a common employer, developing a dedicated workforce that is driven by more than financial benefits.

Commanding leaders

Commanding leaders throw charisma and democracy out the window. These forceful personalities are vital resources in times of organizational crisis. Because of their no-nonsense outlook, they demand the same level of strict adherence to rules and standards from their team that they exhibit themselves.

Laissez Faire leaders

Laissez-faire leaders take a hands-off approach; this allows their followers to set their own rules and make decisions without much guidance or direction. There are pros and cons to this style, which can be successful in mature teams that don’t need much intervention, or new teams which need to form up their own way.

The most important thing to understand about these different leadership styles is that every one of them has a time and place when they are most effective. To be a great leader, you must be able to demonstrate at least a little bit of each type.