What’s Your Leadership Style?

July 20, 2011

Every leader has a different type of style of leadership, which is usually based off personality type and situations or projects.  Based on numerous studies over the years, there are several different types of leadership styles displayed.  Previously, it was believed that there were 3 major leadership styles as laid out in the U.S. Army Handbook.

These 3 leadership styles are:

Authoritative (Autocratic). This leadership style is more direct and firm, with the leader instructing team members what to do and how it should be done, without seeking the advice or input of the other team members.  Constant and persistent use of this type of leadership style is not ideal, as some people interpret this leadership style as being bossy, unprofessional and even abusive.  There are plenty of situations where this type of leadership style is necessary, such as when you are short on time or need to resolve a problem right away.  However, it is important that a leader that needs to utilize this leadership style be cognizant that he or she does not be demeaning or condescending in the delivery of instructions.  It will become counter-productive and may harm team member participation and overall morale.

Participative (Democratic).
Unlike the Autocratic leadership, this leadership style engages team members in the decision-making process.  This style seeks out ideas, advice and input from team members on what tasks to do and how to do them, but the final say-so is still in the hands of the leader.  This style is conducive to team-building, motivating team members and building a mutual respect between team members and leader.  A leader is not expected to know everything and to be able to have everything as a strength, so this leadership style allows leaders to tap into other resources of knowledge and skills to be able to accomplish more.

Delegative (Free Reign).
The third leadership style puts decision-making authority in the hands of team members.  This may be a situation where either you are unable to make decisions on a task due to time or resource constraints, so you must rely on others to determine how to move forward with such tasks.  As the team leader, it doesn’t mean you’re free from the responsibility of the results and outcomes of the group’s decisions.  This is why training and smart use of delegation (by tasks and by whom you give such delegation) is important. While often feared by many leaders because of the great amount of trust and faith this style must require of the leader in his or her teammates, it is a leadership style that is necessary in situations and allows for teams to do more in less time.  It also helps build up trust between leader and team members, as well as among other team members.

Since these studies, there has been further analysis on the other kinds of leadership styles which have since evolved, such as Servant Leadership, Charismatic Leadership and Relationship-Oriented Leadership to name a few.

Whatever kind of leadership style you may naturally fall into based on your personality, it is important to remember that strong and successful leaders use all styles of leadership when the situation, project or circumstances demands a particular leadership style.


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