If you’re a working adult, you have most likely experienced good and bad bosses. From the manager who offers encouragement and support, to the supervisor who criticizes your every move while micromanaging each project, leadership comes in many forms.
When you find yourself on a career advancement track with growing managerial responsibilities, defining your identity as a leader can be a valuable process. Similarly, identifying a colleague’s leadership model can give you more insight on how to successfully work together.
In this post, we explore the concept of leadership models, discuss the unique application of these models in healthcare management, and examine 12 common styles that you may have encountered in the workplace. You can jump to our visual to see which famous leaders match each style so you can gain inspiration from their methods.
Defining Leadership at Work
“True leadership is the ability to influence people to achieve a better result for an organization or group,” says career coach Kathleen Brady.1 In the workplace, a leader’s influence can be reflected in employee happiness, a healthy bottom line, a culture of innovation, positive social change, and more. For example, data shows that 70% of workforce engagement, defined as the level of commitment and connection an employee has with their workplace, is influenced by managers.
Leadership opportunities are not reserved for the executive suite. Leaders and managers exist at every level of an organization, from staff who steer small departmental projects to those who oversee massive global endeavors. It’s smart to prepare for your next leadership opportunity by understanding the leadership model that works best for you.
What Is a Leadership Model?
Leadership models provide a useful structure for defining the management methods that fit your work style and personality. Knowing your personal approach to leadership—both where it comes from and where you want to go with it—creates a standard from which you can make adjustments and improvements to maximize your efficacy and impact. Leadership models don’t exist in a vacuum; however, you may pull elements from more than one model, or you may shift among models over time or in different settings.
Although leadership models are similar to leadership styles, these are two separate concepts. While the model serves as the conceptual structure to explain what makes a leader great, the style represents the pattern of leadership behaviors they exhibit in pursuit of that greatness. 5
12 Types of Leadership Models
Although philosophers have examined the concept of leadership at least since the times of Julius Caesar, leadership models are a continually evolving network of modern theories and behavioral structures.
Integrity and vision are core qualities of transformational leaders. As a transformational leader, you will achieve your goals through open lines of communication with staff, demonstrating your integrity and the respect you hold for your staff’s experience and knowledge. This mutual respect leads to gains in staff satisfaction and employee retention, both shown to improve overall patient care and safety.11
Once you present your vision for a project, you will need to motivate others to make it reality. However, you risk ignoring the needs of individual staff members in pursuit of fulfilling your grander mission.
Transactional leadership is a straightforward rewards-based model. It works off the concept that an employee’s personal interests (as opposed to company interests) are the principal factors motivating them to complete an assigned task or reach a performance level. If you’re a transactional leader, you will set performance goals for staff, promise a reward, and provide that reward upon their successful completion of the goal—or impose a consequence if staff don’t meet their goals. This method of leadership can be very effective for getting work done, but it fails to allow space for building relationships at work and inspiring staff to contribute new ideas.
The transactional model is one of the most prominently utilized in the medical industry. It can be a useful approach for establishing and meeting short-term objectives, such as completing specific tasks, achieving quantifiable patient satisfaction goals, and successfully following all safety protocols.12
As a servant leader, you will mix selflessness with a focus on the higher needs of others as staff work toward achieving your vision. Through self-reflection and awareness, you gain insight into your own purpose in life and work, the meaning of their leadership initiatives, and your personal character. By mentoring your staff, you are able to lift up others to greater success, improving morale and the business.
The interdisciplinary nature of healthcare requires a range of professionals to work as a team. This aligns with the servant leader’s desire to work collaboratively and elevate team members, all in service of improving patient care.