Understanding the many different types of leadership styles is a necessary first step in leadership development.
“A groom used to spend whole days in currycombing and rubbing down his Horse, but at the same time stole his oats and sold them for his own profit. “Alas!” said the Horse, “if you really wish me to be in good condition, you should groom me less, and feed me more.” — Aesop’s Fables
Leadership Styles Overview
By Murray Johannsen
When developing your leadership skills, one must soon confront an important practical question, “What leadership styles work best for me and my organization?” To answer this question, it’s best to understand that there are many from which to choose and as part of your leadership development effort, you should consider developing as many leadership styles as possible.
Three Classic Leadership Styles
One dimension of has to do with control and one’s perception of how much control one should give to people. The laissez faire style implies low control, the autocratic style high control and the participative lies somewhere in between.
The Laissez Faire Leadership Style
The style is largely a “hands off” view that tends to minimize the amount of direction and face time required. Works well if you have highly trained and highly motivated direct reports.
The Autocratic Leadership Style
The autocratic style has its advocates, but it is falling out of favor in many countries. Some people have argued that the style is popular with today’s CEO’s, who have much in common with feudal lords in Medieval Europe.
The Participative Leadership Style
It’s hard to order and demand someone to be creative, perform as a team, solve complex problems, improve quality, and provide outstanding customer service. The participative style presents a happy medium between over controlling (micromanaging) and not being engaged and tends to be seen in organizations that must innovate to prosper.
Situational Leadership. In the 1950s, management theorists from Ohio State University and the University of Michigan published a series of studies to determine whether leaders should be more task or relationship (people) oriented. The importance of the research cannot be over estimated since leaders tend to have a dominant style; a leadership style they use in a wide variety of situations. Surprisingly, the research discovered that there is no one best style: leaders must adjust their leadership style to the situation as well as to the people being led.
Goleman’s Model of Situational Leadership. This is a relatively recent view that based on the application of emotional intelligence to leadership. The six styles one can use are: coaching, pacesetting, democratic, affinitive, authoritative and coercive.
Hershey and Blanchard’s Model of Situational Leadership. Going back to the 1970s, the model primarily focuses on the nature of the task as the major variable in choosing your style. In this model, there are four options: telling, selling, participating and delegating.
The Emergent Leadership Style
Contrary to the belief of many, groups do not automatically accept a new “boss” as leader. We see a number of ineffective managers who didn’t know the behaviors to use when one taking over a new group.
The Transactional Leadership Style
The approach emphasizes getting things done within the umbrella of the status quo; almost in opposition to the goals of the transformational leadership. It’s considered to be a “by the book” approach in which the person works within the rules. As such, it’s commonly seen in large, bureaucratic organizations.
The Transformational Leadership Style
The primary focus of the transformational leadership style is to make change happen in:
- Our Self,
- Groups, and
The transformational style requires a number of different skills and is closely associated with two other leadership styles: charismatic and visionary leadership.
Charisma is a special leadership style commonly associated with transformational leadership. While extremely powerful, it is extremely hard to teach.
Visionary Leadership, The leadership style focuses on how the leader defines the future for followers and moves them toward it.
This is practiced by the military services such as the US Army, US Air Force, and many large corporations. It stresses the competitive nature of running an organization and being able to out fox and out wit the competition.
A few years ago, a large corporation decided that supervisors were no longer needed and those in charge were suddenly made “team leaders.” Today, companies have gotten smarter about how to exert effective team leadership, but it still takes leadership to transition a group into a team.
This is a special style that anyone who runs a meeting can employ. Rather than being directive, one uses a number of indirect communication patterns to help the group reach consensus.
Leadership Influence Styles
Here one looks at the behaviors associated how one exercises influence. For example, does the person mostly punish? Do they know how to reward?
Not all individuals can adapt to the leadership styles expected in a different culture whether that culture is organizational or national. In fact, there is some evidence that American and Asian Leadership Styles are very different, primarily due to cultural factors.
The Coaching Style of Leadership
A great coach is definitely a leader who also possess a unique gift–the ability to teach and train.
Level 5 Leadership
This term was coined by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great: Why Some Company’s Make the Leap and Other Don’t. As Collins says in his book, “We were surprised, shocked really, to discover the types of leadership required for turning a good company into a great one.” What he seems to have found is what The Economist calls “The Cult of the Faceless Boss.”
Servant Leadership Style
Some leaders have put the needs of their followers first. For example, the motto of the Los Angeles Police Department, “To Protect and Serve.” reflects this philosophy of service. One suspects these leaders are rare in business.
LEADERSHIP VIDEO — The Importance of Leadership
Description: Some have said that one only needs good management to run a successful business organization. In what areas do leaders make a difference? This video talks about the importance of leadership using different examples ranging from student organizations to three historical examples: Japan, China and Britain and three leaders who had such an immense impact on those nations: Emperor Meiji, The Dowager Empress Ci Xi and Elisabeth I.
Profiles In Leadership
This section will contain articles about the leadership styles of business and government leaders.
Profile 1: Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson.
“Any one can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” -Publilius Syrus.
The two men have widely differing leadership styles but have been thrust together by historical chance in dealing with the 2008 Wall Street financial crisis.
Our knowledge can only be finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite.” — Karl Popper, Austrian philosopher
For Additional Information