What Kind of Leader Are You?

What Kind of Leader Are You?

August 29, 2023

3 minute Read

Learn how to be strategic and inspirational with your team by mastering multiple leadership styles you can learn a lot about washing cars by … watching cars. 

There is great opportunity in teaching employees to look for small details in the final wash product and empowering them to take action when a wash is not up to standards. Letting managers make the call on rewashes is one simple, but powerful, way to help managers make decisions. This is an example of taking a more hands-off leadership style.

That’s just one of many leadership styles that can be used by leaders to motivate and inspire their teams to do great work.

Knowing how to fluctuate between leadership styles can help you be more prepared to handle customer situations and potential staff hiccups — while, at the same time, maximizing your team’s talents. Some styles are more appropriate than others and some are easier to learn than others, depending on your personality and traits. However, the more options you have in your toolbelt, the more prepared you’ll be for any situation you might find yourself in. 

Leadership approaches can be categorized into five common styles:

1. Hands-Off Leadership
This is the most passive approach to leadership. This strategy can equate to high job satisfaction, but employees must be self-directed, high performers for it to work due to the amount of freedom in this approach. 

2. Autocratic Leaders
Complete control is the idea behind this style. It is best used if there is a crisis, team deadline or general team disorder. Use too often and it can lower morale and create a culture of fear and hostility.

3. Democratic
The entire team can be part of the decision-making process in this style, which encourages input and opinions from everyone – though the final decisions would still rest with the manager. Creative solutions and a stronger team can be the result when incorporating this approach.

4. Transactional
This type of leadership rewards good performance and reprimands poor performance. This carrot-and-stick style is great for getting a project completed but isn’t ideal for finding creative or innovative approaches to solutions.

5. Transformational
This style is motivation based and future-conscious. It is perfect if encouraging productivity, innovation and team engagement. But, it can be frustrating for those who prefer structure and are more detail-oriented.

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Good managers and leaders have to tap into different leadership styles throughout the day based on the situation present and the problem that needs solving. No one style fits all; good leaders are able to flex as needed.

To figure out what comes most naturally can be a first step in identifying what style you lean toward. For example, if you are an extrovert, one style might be easier for you. If an introvert, it might be a completely different one. But, learning the ins and outs of all five styles — and when and how to incorporate each one — will help your team be the best it can be.

Usually, the traits seen in stereotypical, successful leaders are those of an extrovert, such as: assertive, bold, confident in their decisions and social. However, introverts can also excel as leaders, as they are more empathic, prudent, skilled at listening and self-controlled.

Leaders should recognize where they are naturally gifted, and focus on how those strengths can be incorporated into each leadership style. 

It is important to remember that styles can change, but your traits cannot. A style is a way of doing things and a trait is a characteristic that belongs to a person. When evaluating a situation, you have a toolbelt full of leadership styles that can be used and customized for your team and the situation — no matter what your traits (or your team’s traits) are.

New LEAD Courses
The information in this article is part of International Carwash Association’s LEAD car wash manager training program. It is included in the “Understanding Your Leadership Style” course of the Leadership domain, which was just released in May 2023. 

LEAD is now being offered on a per course and bundled basis if you have specific challenges or gaps in your existing training. In addition, pre-packaged and customized training solutions are also available based on your company’s needs.

Explore the new options and pricing at

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