A true leader is someone who can inspire those who follow him to share in his goals, rather than just follow his orders. A number of different methods exist to achieve the status of a good leader. The most suitable style for you depends largely on the type of person you are and what kinds of goals you have.

Leadership by Example

An effective method of leadership is to simply do what you feel needs to be done or act in the way that you feel is appropriate and allow others to follow your lead. This is more easily accomplished if you are in an official position of leadership already, but can be surprisingly effective in informal settings as well. Leadership by example is more effective with others who are resistant to following orders, because their emulation of your actions is purely voluntary.

Empathetic Leadership

Leaders who feel and express empathy for their followers' personal situations can be very effective. Particularly in situations of difficulty or danger, such as the military, leaders who combine authority with compassion often win intense loyalty and commitment from those whom they lead. Although authoritarian leaders may command obedience, it is a shallow form of cooperation in comparison to the solidarity engendered by a genuinely compassionate leader. Empathy for others indicates an understanding of their view of things, which is often returned with an acceptance of a leader's authority.

Authoritarian Leadership

At the other end of the spectrum from empathetic leadership is the authoritarian leader. Although authoritarian leaders are not necessarily despots, the concerns of the individuals whom they lead are secondary to the achievement of their goals. Authoritarian leadership was much more common before modern democracy, in the form of all-powerful leaders, such as William the Conqueror and Peter the Great. In populations raised on ideals of democracy and individual rights, authoritarian leadership patterns are not particularly popular or effective.

Cooperative Leadership

Some leaders choose to pursue their goals by downplaying their leadership positions and emphasizing their similarities with the rest of the group. Cooperative leadership implies a leader who engages in the same activities as everyone else and claims no special privileges. This can be an effective form of leadership as long as the leader can combine his everyman status with the ability to control the progression of events. Cooperative leadership is often exercised by people who have risen from a common status to a position of leadership.