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Leadership and Different Styles

Leadership has been described as "a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task", although there are alternative definitions of leadership.

For example, some understand a leader simply as somebody whom people follow or as somebody who guides or directs others, while others define leadership as "organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal".

Leadership Style Frameworks

Lewin's Leadership Styles

Psychologist Kurt Lewin developed his leadership styles framework in the 1930s, and it provided the foundation of many of the approaches that followed afterwards. He argued that there are three major leadership styles:

  • 1. Autocratic leaders make decisions without consulting their team members, even if their input would be useful. This can be appropriate when you need to make decisions quickly, when there's no need for team input, and when team agreement isn't necessary for a successful outcome. However, this style can be demoralizing, and it can lead to high levels of absenteeism and staff turnover.

  • 2. Democratic leaders make the final decisions, but they include team members in the decision-making process. They encourage creativity, and people are often highly engaged in projects and decisions. As a result, team members tend to have high job satisfaction and high productivity. This is not always an effective style to use, though, when you need to make a quick decision.

  • 3. Laissez-faire leaders give their team members a lot of freedom in how they do their work, and how they set their deadlines. They provide support with resources and advice if needed, but otherwise they don't get involved. This autonomy can lead to high job satisfaction, but it can be damaging if team members don't manage their time well, or if they don't have the knowledge, skills, or self-motivation to do their work effectively. (Laissez-faire leadership can also occur when managers don't have control over their work and their people.)

Lewin's framework is popular and useful, because it encourages managers to be less autocratic than they might instinctively be.

The Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid

The Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid

was published in 1964, and it highlights the best

leadership style to use, based on your concern for your people and your concern for

production/tasks.

The Managerial Grid is based on two behavioral dimensions:

Concern for People This is the degree to which a leader considers the needs of team members, their interests, and areas of personal development when deciding how best to accomplish a task. Concern for Production This is the degree to which a leader emphasizes concrete objectives, organizational efficiency and high productivity when deciding how best to accomplish a task.

Using the axis to plot leadership ‘concerns for production’ versus ‘concerns for people’,

Blake and Mouton defined the following five leadership styles:

The Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid The Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid was published in 1964, and it highlights the

Impoverished Leadership Low Production/Low People

This leader is mostly ineffective. He/she has neither a high regard for creating systems for getting the job done, nor for creating a work environment that is satisfying and motivating. The result is disorganization, dissatisfaction and disharmony.

Country Club Leadership High People/Low Production

This style of leader is most concerned about the needs and feelings of members of his/her team. These people operate under the assumption that as long as team members are happy and secure then they will work hard. What tends to result is a work environment that is very relaxed and fun but where production suffers due to lack of direction and control.

Produce or Perish Leadership High Production/Low People

Also known as Authoritarian or Compliance Leaders, people in this category believe that employees are simply a means to an end. Employee needs are always secondary to the need for efficient and productive workplaces. This type of leader is very autocratic, has strict work rules, policies, and procedures, and views punishment as the most effective means to motivate employees.

Middle-of-the-Road Leadership Medium Production/Medium People

This style seems to be a balance of the two competing concerns, and it may at first appear to be an ideal compromise. Therein lies the problem, though: When you compromise, you necessarily give away a bit of each concern, so that neither production nor people needs are fully met. Leaders who use this style settle for average performance and often believe that this is the most anyone can expect.

Team Leadership High Production/High People

According to the Blake Mouton model, this is the best managerial style. These leaders stress production needs and the needs of the people equally highly.

The premise here is that employees understand the organizations purpose and are involved in determining production needs. When employees are committed to, and

have a stake in the organization’s success, their needs and production needs coincide.

This creates a team environment based on trust and respect, which leads to high satisfaction and motivation and, as a result, high production.

Applying the Blake Mouton Managerial Grid:

Being aware of the various approaches is the first step in understanding and improving how well you perform as a manager. It is important to understand how you currently operate, so that you can then identify ways of becoming effective in both areas.

Step One: Identify your leadership style Think of some recent situations where you were the leader.

For each of these situations, place yourself on the grid according to where you believe you fit.

Step Two: Identify areas of improvement and develop your leadership skills

Look at your current leadership approach, and think about whether it suits the context. Look at ways that you could improve. Are you settling for ‘middle of the road’ because it is easier than reaching for more? Identify ways to get the skills you need to reach the Team Leadership position. These may include involving others in problem solving or improving how you communicate with them, if you feel you are too task-oriented. Or it may mean becoming clearer about scheduling or monitoring project progress if you tend to focus too much on people. Continually monitor your performance and watch for situations where you slip back into bad old habits.

Step Three: Put the Grid in Context

It is important to recognize that the Team Leadership style isn’t always the most

effective approach in every situation. While the benefits of democratic and participative management are widely accepted, there are times that call for more attention in one area than another. If your company is in the midst of a merger or some other significant change, it can be acceptable to place a higher emphasis on people than on production. Likewise, when faced with an economic hardship or physical risk, people concerns may be placed on the back burner, for the short-term at least, to achieve high productivity and efficiency.

With a people-oriented leadership style, you focus on organizing, supporting, and developing your team members. This participatory style encourages good teamwork and creative collaboration.

With task-oriented leadership, you focus on getting the job done. You define the work and the roles required, put structures in place, and plan, organize, and monitor work.

The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory

First published in 1969, the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory argues that you need to use different leadership styles depending on the maturity of your team members. The model argues that with relatively immature individuals, you need a more directing approach, while with higher maturity people; you need a more participative or delegating leadership style.

You can use this model in most business situations, regardless of whether you want to build a new team or develop an existing one.

According to Hersey and Blanchard, there are four main leadership styles:

Telling (S1) Leaders tell their people what to do and how to do it. Selling (S2) Leaders provide information and direction, but there's more communication with followers. Leaders "sell" their message to get people on board. Participating (S3) Leaders focus more on the relationship and less on direction. The leader works with the team, and shares decision-making responsibilities. Delegating (S4) Leaders pass most of the responsibility onto the follower or group. The leaders still monitor progress, but they're less involved in decisions.

As you can see, styles S1 and S2 are focused on getting the task done. Styles S3 and S4 are more concerned with developing team members' abilities to work independently.

Maturity Levels

According to Hersey and Blanchard, knowing when to use each style is largely dependent on the maturity of the person or group you're leading. They break maturity down into four different levels:

M1 People at this level of maturity are at the bottom level of the scale. They lack the knowledge, skills, or confidence to work on their own, and they often need to be pushed to take the task on. M2 at this level, followers might be willing to work on the task, but they still don't have the skills to complete it successfully. M3 Here, followers are ready and willing to help with the task. They have more skills than the M2 group, but they're still not confident in their abilities. M4 These followers are able to work on their own. They have high confidence and strong skills, and they're committed to the task. The Hersey-Blanchard model maps each leadership style to each maturity level, as shown below.

Maturity Level

Most Appropriate Leadership Style

M1: Low maturity

S1: Telling/directing

M2:

Medium

S2: Selling/coaching

maturity, limited skills

   

M3:

Medium

S3: Participating/supporting

maturity, higher skills but lacking confidence

   

M4: High maturity

S4: Delegating

To use this model, reflect on the maturity of individuals within your team. The table above shows which leadership style Hersey and Blanchard recommend for people with that level of maturity.

Path-Goal Theory

You may also have to think about what your team members want and need. This is where Path-Goal Theory published in 1971 is useful.

The Path-Goal model is a theory based on specifying a leader's style or behavior that best fits the employee and work environment in order to achieve goals (House, Mitchell, 1974). The goal is to increase an employee's motivation, empowerment, and satisfaction so that they become productive members of the organization.

Path-Goal is based on Vroom's (1964) expectancy theory in which an individual will act in a certain way based on the expectation that the act will be followed by a given outcome and on the attractiveness of that outcome to the individual. The path-goal theory was first introduced by Martin Evans (1970) and then further developed by House (1971).

The path-goal theory can best be thought

of

as

a process

in which

leaders

select specific behaviors that are best suited to the employees' needs and the

working environment so that they may best guide the employees through

their path in the obtainment of their daily work activities (goals) (Northouse,

2013).

While Path-Goal Theory is not an exact process, it generally follows these basic steps as shown in the graphic below:

  • 1. Determine the employee and environmental characteristics

  • 2. Select a leadership style

  • 3. Focus on motivational factors that will help the employee succeed

their path in the obtainment of their daily work activities (goals) (Northouse, 2013). While Path-Goal Theory

With Path-Goal Theory, you can identify the best leadership approach to use, based on your people's needs, the task that they're doing, and the environment that they're working in.

Six Emotional Leadership Styles

Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, in Primal Leadership”, describe six styles of leading that have different effects on the emotions of the target followers.

These are styles, not types. Any leader can use any style, and a good mix that is customised to the situation is generally the most effective approach.

The Visionary Leader

The Visionary Leader moves people towards a shared vision, telling them where to go but not how to get there - thus motivating them to struggle forwards. They openly share information, hence giving knowledge power to others.

They can fail when trying to motivate more experienced experts or peers. This style is best when a new direction is needed. Overall, it has a very strong impact on the climate.

The Coaching Leader

The Coaching Leader connects wants to organizational goals, holding long conversations that reach beyond the workplace, helping people find strengths and weaknesses and tying these to career aspirations and actions. They are good at delegating challenging assignments, demonstrating faith that demands justification and which leads to high levels of loyalty.

Done badly, this style looks like micromanaging. It is best used when individuals need to build long-term capabilities. It has a highly positive impact on the climate.

The Affiliative Leader

The Affiliative Leader creates people connections and thus harmony within the organization. It is a very collaborative style which focuses on emotional needs over work needs.

When done badly, it avoids emotionally distressing situations such as negative feedback. Done well, it is often used alongside visionary leadership. It is best used for healing rifts and getting through stressful situations. It has a positive impact on climate.

The Democratic Leader

The Democratic Leader acts to value inputs and commitment via participation, listening to both the bad and the good news.

When done badly, it looks like lots of listening but very little effective action.

It

is

best

used

to

gain

buy-in or

when

uncertain). It has a positive impact on climate.

simple inputs are needed

( when you are

The Pace-setting Leader

The Pace-setting Leader builds challenge and exciting goals for people, expecting excellence and often exemplifying it themselves. They identify poor performers and demand more of them. If necessary, they will roll up their sleeves and rescue the situation themselves.

They tend to be low on guidance, expecting people to know what to do. They get short term results but over the long term this style can lead to exhaustion and decline.

Done badly, it lacks Emotional Intelligence, especially self-management. A classic problem happens when the 'star techie' gets promoted. It is best used for results from a motivated and competent team. It often has a very negative effect on climate (because it is often poorly done).

The Commanding Leader

The Commanding Leader soothes fears and gives clear directions by his or her powerful stance, commanding and expecting full compliance (agreement is not needed). They need emotional self-control for success and can seem cold and distant.

This approach is best in times of crisis when you need unquestioned rapid action and with problem employees who do not respond to other methods.

The theory highlights the strengths and weaknesses of six leadership styles that you can use Visionary, Coaching, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting, and Commanding. It also shows how each style can affect the emotions of your team members.

Flamholtz and Randle's Leadership Style Matrix

First published in 2007, Flamholtz and Randle's Leadership Style Matrix shows you the best leadership style to use, based on how capable people are of working autonomously, and how creative or "programmable" the task is.

The Leadership Style Matrix

From "Growing Pains: Transitioning From an Entrepreneurship to a Professionally Managed Firm" by Eric G. Flamholtz

From "Growing Pains: Transitioning From an Entrepreneurship to a Professionally Managed Firm" by Eric G. Flamholtz and and Yvonne Randle. Fourth Edition. © 2007. Reproduced with permission of John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

The Leadership Style Matrix is divided into four quadrants. Each quadrant lists two leadership styles that are best suited for a specific situation and person (or group).

The Y-axis defines the "programmability" of the task. A programmable task has specific steps or instructions to complete. A non-programmable task is more creative; it's up to the individual to decide how best to accomplish it.

The X-axis describes the individual's capability and preference for autonomy. Several factors influence this, including education, skill, motivation, and their desire for feedback, interaction, or independence.

For instance, a person with a high level of education, skill, motivation and independence is likely to want autonomy. Someone with low motivation and skill will need and may want more feedback and interaction, so that he or she can complete the task successfully.

The matrix is divided into four quadrants each quadrant identifies two possible leadership styles that will be effective for a given situation, ranging from "autocratic/benevolent autocratic" to "consensus/laissez-faire."

Transformational Leadership

These leadership style frameworks are all useful in different situations, however, in business, "transformational leadership " is often the most effective leadership style to use. (This was first published in 1978, and was then further developed in 1985.)

Transformational leaders have integrity and high emotional intelligence . They motivate people with a shared vision of the future, and they communicate well. They're also typically self-aware , authentic , empathetic , and humble .

Transformational leaders inspire their team members because they expect the best from everyone, and they hold themselves accountable for their actions. They set clear goals, and they have good conflict-resolution skills . This leads to high productivity and engagement.

However, leadership is not a "one size fits all" thing; often, you must adapt your approach to fit the situation. This is why it's useful to develop a thorough understanding of other leadership frameworks and styles; after all, the more approaches you're familiar with, the more flexible you can be.

Specific Leadership Styles

As well as understanding the frameworks that you can use to be a more effective leader, and knowing what it takes to be a transformational leader, it's also useful to learn about more general leadership styles, and the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

Let's take a look at some other leadership styles that are interesting, but don't fit with any of the frameworks above.

Note:

Remember, not all of these styles will have a positive effect on your team members, either in the short or long term. (See our article on Dunham and Pierce's Leadership Model for more on how your actions as a leader will affect your team.)

Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic leaders follow rules rigorously, and ensure that their people follow procedures precisely.

This leadership style is appropriate for work involving serious safety risks (such as working with machinery, with toxic substances, or at dangerous heights), or with large sums of money. Bureaucratic leadership is also useful for managing employees who perform routine tasks.

This style is much less effective in teams and organizations that rely on flexibility, creativity, or innovation.

Charismatic Leadership

A charismatic leadership style resembles transformational leadership: both types of leaders inspire and motivate their team members.

The difference lies in their intent. Transformational leaders want to transform their teams and organizations, while leaders who rely on charisma often focus on themselves and their own ambitions, and they may not want to change anything.

Charismatic leaders might believe that they can do no wrong, even when others warn them about the path that they're on. This feeling of invincibility can severely damage a team or an organization, as was shown in the 2008 financial crisis.

Servant Leadership

A "servant leader" is someone, regardless of level, who leads simply by meeting the needs of the team. The term sometimes describes a person without formal recognition as a leader.

These people often lead by example. They have high integrity and lead with generosity . Their approach can create a positive corporate culture, and it can lead to high morale among team members.

Supporters of the servant leadership model suggest that it's a good way to move ahead in a world where values are increasingly important, and where servant leaders can achieve power because of their values, ideals, and ethics .

However, others believe that people who practice servant leadership can find themselves "left behind" by other leaders, particularly in competitive situations.

This leadership style also takes time to apply correctly: it's ill-suited to situations where you have to make quick decisions or meet tight deadlines.

Transactional Leadership

This leadership style starts with the idea that team members agree to obey their leader when they accept a job. The "transaction" usually involves the organization paying team members in

return for their effort and compliance on a short-term task. The leader has a right to "punish" team members if their work doesn't meet an appropriate standard.

Transactional leadership is present in many business leadership situations, and it does offer some benefits. For example, it clarifies everyone's roles and responsibilities. And, because transactional leadership judges team members on performance, people who are ambitious or who are motivated by external rewards including compensation often thrive.

The downside of this style is that, on its own, it can be chilling and amoral, and it can lead to high staff turnover. It also has serious limitations for knowledge-based or creative work.