6 Effective Styles of Leadership

Leadership involves guiding a particular group of people towards a common goal. Each organization and individual may use different styles of leadership at different times.

The style of leadership used should draw the best out of the employees. Leadership is more about the needs of the organization rather than the needs of individuals.

Here are 6 leadership styles and when to apply each.

1. Participative

Participative leadership is where the leader works hard for buy-in by seeking employee input. The leader encourages and involves the employees in management decision making, also ensuring they know their decisions have been heard and considered. Sometimes, the employees are rewarded for their team effort.

This style works best in a steady environment where employees are working together, and the staff has credibility and experience. It is less efficient in crisis or fast-paced situation where there is little time for meetings. The employees must be highly coordinated.

If an organization requires significant internal change, participative leadership is the best style. Workers play a role in the process of minimizing conflicts within the organization.

2. Affiliative

If the organization needs to bring about a feeling of belonging or bonding to the organization, an affiliative style is more suitable. It is meant to prevent conflict by creating harmony between teammates. It would translate to: people come first.

The style works best when there has been a trauma or any other stress associated with management. It is also effective when the performance of the employees is inadequate. Affiliative leadership complements other leadership styles.

3. Pacesetting

With pacesetting, the leader models self-direction and excellence. He or she expects employees to do the same. The leader sets a high standard and employees follow the example. The workers managed need to be a team of experts that require little or no coordination. The employees must be highly competent and motivated.

The style is least effective where workloads are heavy and assistance is required from outside parties. Pace-setting can stifle innovation and overwhelm team members.

4. Authoritative

Authoritative leadership focuses on end goals. The leader drives the employees towards a common vision leaving it up to each to attain. The authoritative style means “Come with me.” It requires the leader to be very firm but fair to the employees. The workers receive feedback on goal attainment as a way of motivation.

The leader should be credible, offering a clear direction and the standards needed. If the leader lacks credibility, the employees will not buy in to in his/her vision. The employees need to be sufficiently developed to require only limited guidance.

5. Coaching

Coaching is where a leader works on developing individuals with the aim of improving their performance. The style simultaneously advances the employees’ goals as well as those of the organization. The manager has a development role. Employee motivation comes from providing workers who perform well with greater opportunities.

The style works best for developing employees who need to acquire new skills. They shouldn’t be defiant or unwilling to learn. The leader, on the other hand, has to be an expert and proficient and is able to applying successful teaching strategies. The style should be applied with caution. Employee self-confidence can suffer, especially if they perceive their leader as micromanaging.

6. Directive

A directive style is about setting clear requirements for the team. The leader closely controls employees by disciplining them or through the threat of discipline. It works best in times of crisis where deviations are risky. The employees need to be experienced since the style does not support learning and development well. Just like coaching, experienced employees might resent a lack of autonomy.

Adjusting Your Leadership Style

Each organization and leader has to be able to adapt leadership style depending on the situation. Successful leaders adjust to the circumstances, capitalizing on the relative strengths of each style. MBA management training programs teach students different leadership models that can be drawn upon selectively.

Cultural Influences

Leadership is also culture-dependent. For example, a common leadership style in Australia is the “laid-back” approach. It’s also a phenomenon you see at Australian universities.

Because Australia has an egalitarian culture, it’s not the done thing to have a commanding approach and be telling others what to do in an overt way. Instead, everything is done in a casual, understated way that seems to remove hierarchical boundaries. People are aware of who’s in charge, they just don’t like the fact to be emphasized.

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