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Oct 13, 2010

Types of Leadership

Leadership can be characterized in different ways. Sometimes the focus is on leadership styles while at other times the focus is on the characteristics of a leader. Yet, another way to look at types of leadership is by organizational levels. Leading at different levels of an organization requires a leader to use a different approach at each level. Thus, it is important for leaders to understand the different types of leadership and what they need to do to be an effective leader at each level. Although complex organizations may have many levels, listed here are the basic types of leadership based on organizational levels:

Self-leadership: Regardless of whether you are leading a small team or a large organization, all leadership endeavors begin with self-leadership. Self-leadership begins with introspection and development of one's emotional intelligence. Leaders must know themselves first before they can effectively lead others.

Individual leadership: Individual leadership is about performance at a high level as an individual contributor. Leadership is not only a function of a position on an organizational chart, but also individual performance. Anyone at any level of an organization can be a leader, even when they are not in a formal leadership position.. Individual leaders are recognized for their leadership in setting the pace and high standards in their work.

Team leadership: Team leadership is the leadership of a small team. It involves direct interaction between the leader and their followers. Generally, the leader is in frequent contact with their team members, and the leader is responsible for everything the team does or fails to do.

Organizational leadership: Organizational leadership is leadership at the intermediate and highest levels of an organization. This type of leadership is indirect leadership because the leaders generally do not have direct contact with everyone in the organization. They lead indirectly by influencing the larger organization through subordinate leaders. They also exert indirect leadership on the whole organization by managing cultural norms, rewards and recognition programs, and communications.

Macro leadership: Macro leadership is the leadership of complex organizations or even political units of government where there are many stakeholders. As difficult as it is to lead a large corporation, it is immeasurably more difficult to lead a city, state, or country as the elected political leader. The leader must lead by building political coalitions and use position power and influence to rally followers to their vision. Perhaps this is the most difficult type of leadership because it is so dependent on the leader's power of persuasion and charisma, even when they hold a lofty office like mayor, governor, prime minister, or president.

Although there are common elements of leadership at all of these levels, there are also important differences. Leaders must use different leadership skills to lead a team, an organization, or a city. For example, team leaders who are promoted into an organizational leadership role will find that the direct leadership skills which they used as a team leader will not work as well at the organizational level. If they can't quickly make the transition and learn how to lead indirectly, they will likely not succeed. It is important for the leader to recognize these differences and understand how they must exercise their leadership. Understanding the different types of leadership will be the difference between success and failure as a leader.