Get All Access for $5/mo

These 5 Leadership Styles Have Never Worked for Anybody Some people are born leaders but most of us have to learn. It's easier if you skip the stuff proven not to work.

By Larry Alton Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Leadership is tricky business. There are an infinite number of approaches and styles, unique to each individual leader, but not every style is effective in a working environment. Some approaches which seem like they would be effective on paper actually do more to unnerve employees than they do to foster productivity. Others are clearly ineffective, but tend to creep up on us without us ever knowing we're acting on them.

These are five of the least effective leadership styles I've seen, and if you're using any of them, it might be time to reconsider your approach:

1. Micromanagement.

We've all had negative experiences with micromanagers, but it's sometimes difficult to tell where the line is between active help and micromanagement. For example, if you notice one of your employees is struggling with a problem and you go out of your way to check in with them on an almost hourly basis, is that a form of micromanagement?

Unfortunately, there's no universal answer for this. What constitutes interference for one worker might not register as such for another. You must adjust your approach for each individual employee, and look for signs that you are disrupting more than you are helping. For the most part, it's wise to set a direction and then leave your employees alone to accomplish the work. If they have trouble or need your feedback or advice, they'll come to you.

Related: The 3-Step Cure for Micromanagement

2. Absolute rule.

It's the leader's job to set direction for the team, but many leaders take it too far. They create a culture of absolute rule, where their own direction and vision are law. It's good for a leader to maintain authority and cultivate respect by making their direction a priority, but when it comes at the expense of your team's voice, it becomes a problem.

Even though you have the final say, your ideas and directives should be scrutinized by your team. They should feel free, if not encouraged, to openly discuss the changes they would make or the flaws they see. One person alone cannot think of everything, and if you open the doors for your team to give their perspective, your final plans will enjoy the benefits.

Related: Decisions, Decisions: What Separates Leaders From the Rest

3. Anything goes.

Flexibility is important, and minimalist managerial styles have become increasingly popular, but creating an environment with no rules and no supervision is equally problematic.

As a leader, it's your job to make sure everyone is on the same page, and to make sure that your goals and objectives are communicated clearly to each individual on the team. Without a solid direction, your team members might have grand ideas and work hard to achieve them, but those ideas will not be in alignment under one consolidated vision. A little bit of structure is also important to let your employees know what is expected of them and to create a culture that unifies your team.

4. Complete self-reliance.

Self-reliance is an admirable quality even for a leader, but excessive self-reliance can be toxic. What I mean by "complete self-reliance" is the tendency to do all the work yourself and never delegate any responsibilities or authority to your subordinates.

On one hand, keeping all the work for yourself seems like a good thing. It gives your workers a lighter workload and ensures that the work is executed exactly as you see fit. However, as a leader, it's your responsibility to hire a team of people who can handle that work effectively. Your job should be effectively delegating that work, not executing it on your own time. Learn to trust your team, and if you can't, hire a team you can trust.

Related: Delegating is Good. That's Why I Delegated This Headline.

5. Excessive consistency.

Again, consistency is a good quality, but excessive consistency can interfere with your ability to grow as a leader. For example, if you have a preconceived notion of how you will lead your team and you follow that notion unwaveringly with no regard to changing environments or individual preferences, you're setting yourself up for disaster.

The best leaders are ones who understand that leadership styles must change and adapt over time in response to new situations. They aren't afraid to accommodate the needs of different employees, and encourage themselves to grow and improve their leadership style over time.

There's no switch you can flip to become a great leader, and nobody starts out with a natural-born affinity for leadership. Finding success in a leadership role takes time and experience as you slowly gain familiarity with your team, and construct your own unique approach in leading. Remember the fundamental rule of leadership: your job is to make sure everybody else is best equipped to perform their jobs. Keep this in mind as you form all your policies and set direction for your team on individual assignments.

Related: 9 Ways to Become a Better Leader

Larry Alton

Freelance Writer & Former Entrepreneur

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Making a Change

Invest in a Lifetime of Learning for $100

Skill Success features a wide variety of e-learning courses on business, finance, and more.

Devices

This Car Dash Display Is Only $90 Through June 26

Compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, this display is designed to make your commute safer.

Business News

Amazon Is Thinking About Charging Extra for AI Alexa

"Hey Alexa, how much are you going to cost?"

Business News

SoftBank CEO Says AI 10x Smarter Than Humans Could Be Here in a Matter of Years

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son spoke to shareholders during the company's general meeting on Friday.

Leadership

3 Steps to Overcoming Organizational Fear of Change

It's a leader's job to ensure everyone in the company can own their expertise without fear — even when left to their own devices.