Community conflict

Published on March 17th, 2017 | by Jones

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Different leadership styles and when you should use them

You encounter them in your daily life. And you likely hate some of them and love others. The reality is there are scores of different types of leadership styles. Many lists are created about the different types of leadership. All of this in an attempt to understand what makes some leaders worthwhile and others ineffectual at best, damaging at worst.

A new grouping of leadership styles has recently been released and has been receiving a lot of attention. A large study was recently conducted for the Harvard Business Review. More than 3 000 managers were questioned about their leadership styles and behaviours for Daniel Goleman’s Leadership That Gets Results.

“A leader’s singular job is to get results,” the study says. “But even with all the leadership training programs and ‘expert’ advice available, effective leadership still eludes many people and organizations.”

The team of researchers identifies six different leadership styles. Each of these is rooted in different types of emotional intelligence. They all can be used at different times and in appropriate situations. For instance, one style might lead to a manager being able to successfully apply for plant and machinery finance, while another style might not.

Goleman likens this to a golfer with a bag of clubs. At each hole and each shot, the golfer studies the terrain and what it’ll take before selecting the appropriate club. This is similar to how a leader will choose which leadership style to use. They’ll analyse each situation and choose the one which’ll work the best, just as a golfer will choose the right club for the shot.

“Each style has a distinct effect on the working atmosphere of a company, division, or team, and, in turn, on its financial performance. The styles, by name and brief description alone, will resonate with anyone who leads, is led, or, as is the case with most of us, does both.”

The styles are:

A coercive leader is one who demands immediate compliance. They want workers to follow their instructions. It’s an effective leadership style during a crisis or to control a problem employee. It should be otherwise avoided as it can cause unhappiness and stifle creativity.

Authoritative leaders encourage workers toward a common goal or vision. They tend to focus on end goals and give their team members the freedom to find their own path. This style of leadership works best when instructions aren’t required. It inspires enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit.

An affiliative leader creates emotional bonds and harmony. This style works best in times of stress, trauma and broken trust. It should not be used in isolation as it inspires a culture of mediocrity and promotes a lack of direction.

Democratic leaders build consensus through participation and teamwork. This is an effective style when a team needs to buy into a plan or idea. This is not the best style to use in an emergency situation when teammates don’t have the right information to participate fully.

A pacesetting leader expects their team members to direct themselves and produce excellent work. This is the style to use when the team has the necessary skills and is able to follow the example of their hard-working leader. If used too often it can squash creativity and exhaust team members.

Coaching leaders see the importance of developing people for the future. This style works best when the team leader wants to give members the skills necessary for a long and successful career. It isn’t effective unless the team is unwilling to learn.

A key point of the study is for leaders to realise how their actions, behaviours and the management style they’re using impacts the member of their team. It is for this reason they shouldn’t display their emotions or let their stress show. Team members can easily pick up on this and start to mirror the emotional state of their team leader. And as their emotional well-being can have a significant impact on the work they’re able to produce, it’s important the leader does everything they can to keep team members on an emotional even keel. Because of this, leaders need to be aware of the different styles of leadership available to them and choose an appropriate one to suit the situation.

It was found that the leaders were able to, with practice, switch among the different leadership styles to produce the best possible results. By doing so, leaders can turn leadership into a science, one they’re able to study and fully understand. It’s up to the situation and the individual leaders to choose their own leadership style. In fact, the most successful leaders are ones who can easily switch between the different styles. They can use all of these styles at different times.

The study says: “The research indicates that leaders who get the best results don’t rely on just one leadership style; they use most of the styles in any given week.”


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A keen writer, giving advice about work and life.



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