The below leadership styles encompass the various ways in which an individual conducts themselves when leading, inspiring, steering, and managing people.
As with any personal development the three stages of learning and growing include self-awareness, self-regulation, and behavioural change.
As we explore different styles of leadership there is an opportunity for us to examine our tendencies towards certain styles in certain situations.
We can then choose to assess the appropriateness of these choices and make judgements about and take actions towards giving our attention to deliberately applying our style.
The main styles come in numerous forms, with some of the main classifications as follows:
► Authoritarian (or autocratic),
► Participative (or democratic),
► Delegative (or laissez-faire),
► Transformational (personal growth focused)
► Transactional and
A little about each style of leadership:
First we will look at the first three styles authoritarian, participative and delegative. These three styles if leadership we first defined by Kurt Lewin in his 1939 research.
Authoritarian leadership is when there are clear instructions provided on what needs to be done, when, and how it should be done. This is a command-and-control style where the distinction between the leader and followers is clear. Authoritarian leaders make decisions without input from the group. Authoritarian leaders struggle to adapt their style. When the style is used in the wrong circumstances it can be seen as controlling, overbearing and heavy handed. That said in certain circumstances this leadership style is of value. For example, when rapid decisions are needed, when the leader has by far the most experience. It can however lead to dysfunction and an unfriendly culture. Authoritarian leadership can also create an us and them leader versus follower barrier and unfriendly environment.
Participative leadership is a popular approach whereby the group are involved in decision-making. It is a more democratic contributory style. Members feel involved and participate in the process. This engagement encourages motivation. Lewin’s findings were that outputs overall can be less productive but that individual impact is of greater value. While with this leadership style the leader will typically retain the final say on decisions the involvement in the discussions helps encourage the commitment in the group. It is generally good for the relationships between members of the group who tend to be better at supporting one another.
Delegative leadership is a very hands-off approach which might involve leaving groups to their own devices with very limited direction and guidance. Of the three of Lewins defined styles this was found to be the least productive. There are circumstances when the group or individual in question is highly proficient at the task in question and it could be an appropriate choice of style. Due to the limited direction provided this style can result in a lack of accountability and focus on objectives. The style also may discourage collaboration within the group.
Beyond Lewins three styles we have Transactional leadership which is a simple exchange based approach. Situational leadership which according to Blanchard which moves between four styles depending on the demands of the situation. Lastly we look at Transformational leadership with its positive and individual potential focus as defined by Bass in 1978.
Transactional leadership is where there is a clear agreement to follow the instructions of the leader in exchange for pay. This relationship can have its advantages whereby the follower knows what they need to do and what they will get from doing it. The follower may be additionally incentivised to perform to increase their rewards. It can stifle creativity and limit the desire of the follower to do anything outside of the fixed transaction.
Situational leadership provides a formula for leaders to flex their style according to the context of the follower.
The four main variants available in the sitiational style are:
Directing, Coaching, Supporting and Delegating. The directing style is like the authoritarian style described above. The coaching style is also where clear instructions can be provided but that the leader also provides significant support to enable the delivery of the actions. The supporting style provides the support but without the instructions assuming the follower has clarity of what is required but needs help on the execution. The delegating style is like the delegative laissez faire style described above, again for application predomiantly when the follower has expert capability or the task is simple.
Transformational leadership, often considered the most effective leadership approach, was initially introduced in the late 1970s and further elaborated upon by Bass. Transformational leaders possess the ability to inspire and motivate their followers, fostering positive changes within groups and individual’s. This style creates a supportive and nurturing environment.
These leaders are characterized by their emotional intelligence, vitality, and enthusiasm. Their dedication extends beyond organizational goals; they also strive to enable group members to realize their full potential. Studies indicate that this leadership style yields superior performance and greater group satisfaction compared to alternative leadership methods. Additionally, one study even observed enhanced well-being.
Here are some questions for reflection:
► Which leadership style above do you find the most exciting or interesting and why?
► Can you think of an instance when you have employed authoritarian leadership when the outcomes were not as good as the could have been? What happened? What might have happened differently if you had employed a different style, which would you have chosen and how might it have helped?
► Can you think of a recent time when you employed delegative leadership or perhaps when you should have? If it was the right call why was that? If it was not successful why is that?
► Emotional intelligence is said to be a quality which underpins transformational leadership.
The five elements of emotional intelligence are: 1. Self-awareness · 2. Self-regulation · 3. Motivation · 4. Empathy · 5. Social skills.
When you think of your role today and your behaviours how would you score yourself out of 5 for each of these elements with 5 being the highest score? What can you do about it?