The Importance of Choosing the Right Leadership Style
By Murray Johannsen
"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, Moral of the Story: Looking good is never good enough.
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.
This page focuses on an aspect of leadership we commonly don't think much about—style. But it is also about leadership. Many think is all about fashion. In fact, choosing the right style, at the right time in the right situation is a key element of leader effectiveness. That's not what most people do—they have one style used in all situations. It's like having only one suit or one dress, something you wear everywhere. Of course, all of us would agree that having only one set of clothes is ridiculous. So to is having only one leadership style.
19 Major Leadership Styles
"Our knowledge can only be finite, while our ignorance must necessarily
be infinite." — Karl Popper, Austrian philosopher
Some styles overlap (i.e. charisma and transformational); some can be used together (facilitative and team building); others we used less frequently (strategic and cross-cultural); and some are polar opposites (autocratic & participative). Below is a detailed description of all these styles.
The Autocratic Leadership Style
One leadership style dimension has to do with control and one's perception of how much control one should give to people. For example, the laissez faire style implies low control, the autocratic style is high in control while the participative one lies somewhere in between. Kurt Lewin called these control styles: authoritative, participative (democratic) or delegative (Laissez Faire).
Partly, your style choice on the control demension is a matter of personal choice. The style has its advocates, but it is falling out of favor due to the many weaknesses of autocratic leadership. Some people have argued that the style is popular with today's CEO's who have much in common with feudal lords of Medieval Europe.These CEOs are simply control freaks who want a "firm hand on the helm" and will not tolerate difference of opinions.
The Coaching Style of Leadership
A great coach is definitely a leader who also possess a unique gifts ability to teach and train.
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 superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.” - Confucius
Contrary to the belief of many, groups don't automatically accept a new "boss" as leader. Emergent leadership is what you must do when one taking over a new group.
The Exchange Style
Sometimes known as leader-member exchange, the style involves the exchange of favors between two individuals. An exchange can be hierarchical between the boss and subordinate or occur between two individuals of equal status. For this leadership style to work, you need to know how to develop, maintain and repair relationships.
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, highly motivated direct reports.
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. 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.
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 using the facilitative leadership style uses a number of indirect communication patterns to help the group reach consensus.
Here one looks at the behaviors associated how one exercises influence. For example, does the person mostly punish? Do they know how to reward?
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.
Servant Leadership Style
"The Roots of our Problems are: Wealth without work, Pleasure without
conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality,
Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without
principles." - Mohandas k. Gandhi
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 servant leadership are relatively rare in business.
The Transformational Leadership Style
The primary focus of the transformational leadership style is to make change happen in: Our Self, Others, Groups, and Organizations
The transformational style requires a number of different skills and is closely associated with two other leadership styles: charismatic and visionary leadership.
The Charismatic Style
"Throw away those books and cassettes on inspirational leadership. Send those consultants packing. Know your job, set a good example for the people under you and put results over politics. That's all the charisma you'll really need to succeed." Dyan Machan.
Do You Need Charisma?
Transformational leaders need a bit of charisma. Butif you are in a large bureaucratic organization, you can use your authority, and the power associated with the position. Indeed, most people we find in organizations lack charisma. They are bland personalities, the person you never remember, who has nothing of interest to focus on. They are the people we forget since they can never get anyone excited about what they are doing.
So do you need the charismatic leadership style? The answer is no. One can be a small cog in the great machine. However, it you want to be a leader, if you want to have followers, if you want to do anything great, you better have it.
This is a special leadership style commonly often associated with transformational leadership. While charisma is extremely powerful, it is difficult to learn and there are a number of different charismatic defintions.
"Charisma is a sparkle in people that money can't buy. It's an invisible energy with visible effects." — Marianne Williamson
"We need less posturing and more genuine charisma. Charisma was originally a religious term, meaning "of the spirit" or "inspired." It's about a sparkle in people that money can't buy. It's an invisible energy with visible effects." — Marianne Williamson
Crawl:"You have got charisma! Becca!: Hats that? It's a special quality of leadership that captures the popular imagination and inspires allegiance and devotion." — Movie: Son in Law (1993)
"Charisma is a fancy name given to the knack of giving people your full attention." — Robert Brault
Alex Law: "I mean, my first impression, and they're rarely wrong, is that you have none of the qualities that we normally seek in a prospective flatmate. 'I talking here about things like presence, charisma, style and charm, and I don't think were asking too much, I don't think were being unreasonable." — Shallow Grave, Movie (1994)
One can also exhibit this leadership style if you keep in mind the following six charactersitics of charisma.
"Charm is charisma in the lady." — M. Johannsen.
Seeing The Visionary Leadership Style
"Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country." — July 1965, Horace Greely concerning America's expansion to the West.
A symbol of the concept of Manifest Destiny—a strong held national belief (at the time) that opportunity lay in on the West coast - primarily California. The "vision thing" is something all great leaders have. It was seen through history, in the greats. For example, Alexander the Great clearly had a vision of how to make an empire work.
Visionary leadership has many different elements to it. Clearly, people with vision are highly motivated. It's not work to follow a vision—it's joy. The U.S. founding fathers, the ones who came up with the Constitution, Mother Teresa (a Nobel laureate) and Mahatma Gandhi are just a few who had a great vision.
For those receiving a visionary message, it has a few important of characteristics.
• A Direction. One puts forward a desired future and moves followers toward it.
• Foresight. Typically considered a part of wisdom, is is sometimes said that a great leader knows something before others do.
• One must be right. Or received to be right as in the case of a spiritual matters.
• It must motivate. If the message cannot energize those hearing it, the would be leader would be better off teaching philosophy.
It's surprising who few leaders really have a clear view of what is happening socially or economically in their industry, nation or globally. In one respect, you might say they are blind. Leaders leaders have a vision, but great leadership turns that vision into reality. So remember:
"If the blind shall lead the blind, both with fall into the ditch." — The Bible, Matthew 15:14
Less Common Styles
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 more commonly seen in large, bureaucratic organizations where political considerations are part of daily life.
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."
Primal Leadership Styles
It would seem that just when you have it all sorted out, someone invents a new set of labels. Goleman's model of leadership is a relatively recent addition to the pantheon of leadership style. In this case, it is Danel Goleman. A psychologist who can write in more scholar English, he was one of the major people who popularized Emotional Intelligence and then followed it up with a book called "Primal Leadership. Worth taking a look at. ts based on the application of emotional intelligence to leadership. The six leadership styles one can use are: coaching, pace setting, democratic, affinitive, authoritative and coercive.
"Any one can hold the helm when the sea is calm." -Publilius Syrus.