The Impact of Leadership Style on Performance

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If you are in a supervisory position at work, those you manage look to you for leadership and direction. How you choose to lead can impact how content your employees are in their roles, which can in turn affect employee retention and turnover. It can also impact employee productivity. When your employees are productive, those higher up will realize you must be doing something right.


In the business context, leadership style can be defined as the processes used to manage others to accomplish a specific objective. It includes setting a clear vision for your employees, communicating that vision to them and resolving obstacles and conflicts that may get in the way of achieving that vision. There are many different leadership styles,

Direct Impact

Employees will be unhappy if they feel that their every move is being scrutinized and that managers tell them how to do even the simplest of tasks. On the other hand, a complete lack of direction from a hands-off manager may result in frustration. A middle-of-the-road approach, where employees feel that they have the needed direction to accomplish their tasks but are also empowered to use their own judgment to determine how to go about their jobs, is likely to result in the most employee contentment. A democratic, versus an authoritarian, leadership style can also make employees feel more like valuable team members rather than fungible automatons.

Indirect Impact

Happy employees will be easier to work with, but the effects of leadership style go way beyond employee contentment to performance. Employees who are content with their jobs as the result of an effective leadership style on their managers’ part are less likely to job-hop and more likely to seek ways to grow professionally where they are by taking on new projects or displaying initiative. Increased employee retention means decreased costs in recruiting and hiring replacement employees. Plus, employees who feel appreciated and share their managers’ vision are more likely to roll up their sleeves and get to work when asked to take on additional duties or aim for increased productivity.

Choosing a Style

When deciding what style best suits you, a bit of self-reflection is needed. Look back on times when you’ve been on the managed end of the employee-manager relationship and ask yourself which bosses made good managers and which did not. Then, think about the personal traits and behaviors displayed by those bosses you found effective, and beyond that, motivational. A leader who demonstrates a high level of integrity will have the trust of those he manages. Setting clear goals and communicating your vision will help employees get on board and feel like members of a team, while empowering employees to make decisions and encouraging initiative will result in innovation.