Leadership styles

Leadership styles

Leading With Style – What Is Yours?

Leadership styles are the way that leaders offer vision and direction for a group; how a leader oversees plans and goes about motivating people. Before World War II, Kurt Lewin led a research project to find different styles of leadership. He identified three major  leadership styles and blends of  these have influenced leadership thinking ever since.

The three main leadership styles are:

  • Authoritarian or autocratic – “I want you to….”
  • Participative or democratic – “Let’s work together to….”
  • Delegative or Free Reign – “You take care of it while I…”

Most modern analyses of leadership describe a blend of these three leadership styles but the underlying themes remain the same. Good leaders use all three styles with the most appropriate dominating at any particular time, depending on the situation. For example, in a crisis, there is little room for discussion – clear orders, well given, can save lives. The time taken for participation or giving inexperienced people free rein could be dangerous.

Most of us are drawn to one of three styles as the most comfortable for us to use. But each one has disadvantages if used on all occasions.

Being told what to do all the time in an authoritative style is demeaning and demotivating. This style also means one brain finding solutions rather than having access to contributions from the group. A participative style gains more commitment; it raises motivation and morale.

When using a participative style, the leader retains final responsibility for any decision made and “carries the can” if that decision is not the right one. But all the group can be engaged and contribute. Using a participative style shows confidence and it is a sign of strength. This is the style of leadership that most employees respect above all others. But, as I’ve suggested above, it isn’t right in all circumstances; among other things, participation takes time.

Using a delegative style means the leader leaves those led to make the decisions. Of course, the leader is still accountable for the decisions made. This style is used most often, and most constructively, with well established groups who are quite clear about their roles, as well as the task and they have full information. They are then able to decide what needs to be done and how to do it. The leader needs to have confidence in the group to use this style comfortably. And, the leader still needs to set priorities and make sure the risks associated with the task are properly managed.

What style of leadership do you use and how do you make sure that your style is the right one for the task?

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach
Wendy Smith, Principal Coach, WiseWolf Life and Career Coaching

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find all her books on Amazon at this link

         

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Leading With Style – What Is Yours?

Leading With Style – What Is Yours?

Leadership style is the way that a leader provides vision and direction for a group; how that leader oversees plans and goes about motivating people.

Before World War II, Kurt Lewin led a research project to identify different styles of leadership. He identified three major styles of leadership and blends of  these have influenced leadership thinking ever since.

The three main styles are:

  • Authoritarian or autocratic – “I want you to….”
  • Participative or democratic – “Let’s work together to….”
  • Delegative or Free Reign – “You take care of it while I…”

Most modern analyses of leadership describe a blend of these three styles but the underlying themes remain the same. Good leaders use all three styles with the most appropriate dominating at any particular time, depending on the situation. For example, in a crisis, there is little room for discussion – clear orders, well given, can save lives. The time taken for participation or giving inexperienced people free reign could be dangerous.

Most of us are drawn to one of three styles as the most comfortable for us to use. But each one has disadvantages if used on all occasions.

Being told what to do all the time in an authoritative style is demeaning and demotivating. This style also means one brain finding solutions rather than having access to contributions from the group. A participative style gains more commitment; it raises motivation and morale.

When using a participative style, the leader retains final responsibility for any decision made and “carries the can” if that decision is not the right one. But all the group can be engaged and contribute. Using a participative style shows confidence and it is a sign of strength. This is the style of leadership that most employees respect above all others. But, as I’ve suggested above, it isn’t appropriate in all circumstances; among other things, participation takes time.

Using a delegative style means the leader leaves those led to make the decisions. Of course, the leader is still accountable for the decisions made. This style is used most often, and most constructively, with well established groups who are quite clear about their roles, as well as the task and they have full information. They are then able to determine what needs to be done and how to do it. The leader needs to have confidence in the group to use this style comfortably. And, the leader still needs to set priorities and ensure the risks associated with the task are properly managed.

What style of leadership do you use and how do you ensure that your style is appropriate to the task?

Wendy Mason is a career coach.  She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.  Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR.  She now divides her time between coaching and writing. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com

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Leadership Styles – the joys of participative leadership?

English: Dark forest track

Everyone loves participative leadership.  Or do they? Usually, most of us would prefer to follow a leader who took our views into account.  Most of us find it easier to commit to something if we have had an opportunity to have our say and to be involved in making important decisions that affect us.

Generally, when a number of people contribute to a decision, that decision gains in quality and there is a better result.

Let us imagine we are walking in a forest with a group of friends.  Suddenly our little path comes out into clearing and there is a fork.  The path on the left disappears off into the trees and so does the one on the right. Sadly, the map we’ve been following is out of date and we can’t even see a clearing.  Which way do we go?

It is getting dark.  A chilly wind is getting up and all we want is to be at home again sitting in front of the fire with a warm drink.  So we argue a bit and realise we are lost – we don’t know north from south.  Then John, who hasn’t said much, reminds us that in the northern hemisphere moss grows more often on the north side of trees. We have lots of trees to check and there we are – we take the left fork.  We’re on our way – home again in half an hour – just as the rain starts!

Well, decisions in organizations can be like that! Sometimes, you, the leader, aren’t really sure you know the best way forward.  You haven’t lost your way exactly but you’d like more information before you make that key decision. Your team would love the opportunity to contribute.  If quiet John in the back office has enough confidence in you he might speak up!  He might just know something you don’t about a new technology or the needs of a particular customer. That information could be invaluable.

Without participative leadership, John would not have opened his mouth. And he certainly wouldn’t have committed to all those late nights working on that new technology to make it work for you and the team.

But, at the end of the day, of course, you are the leader!  What happens when a very urgent or very unpalatable decision has to be made?  Does participative leadership work then?  Or does it have its limits?  I’d love to hear your views

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach. She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change. She offers coaching by phone and Skype as well as face to face, particularly for those wanting to increase their confidence. If you would like to know more you can contact Wendy at wendymason@confidencecoach.me  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114.  Her Skype ID is wendymason14.
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Leadership styles – are you the leader for all seasons?


A bonfire lit the sky of Babil Province, as no...

The post that gets the greatest number of visits on this blog is a very short piece I wrote a while ago on different leadership styles – here is the link. I know a picture is worth a thousand words but its success still staggers me – every day it get more hits!

Now leaders, being people, come in all shapes, sizes and personality types and thank goodness for it.

The secret of being a good leader is the ability to be flexible.  Whatever your natural style, If you can adapt that style to meet the needs of the times and your situation, well, in my book, you will be doing OK. And I believe you may be quite unusual.

But, if you are prepared and able to flex, you still need to be able to recognize when a different style is required. For example, a participative leadership style is great in gaining consensus, engagement and a commitment to quality.  But in a conflict situation where survival depends upon making a quick decision, it may have its limitations and could be potentially disastrous

There may be limits for many of us in how far, and for how long, we can adapt from what is our natural style.

It really helps if we understand our natural style and if we can be honest with ourselves about how far we are able to change.  Under stress and over time we tend to revert to what is natural for us.

An action-orientated leader may be great at saving an organization, bringing it out of inertia and building up motivation and morale, short-term.   But that same action-orientated leader may not be the person to develop a vision for the organization long-term.

If you can flex long enough to meet the need, that is great!  If you can’t, and you know it, then have the courage and honesty to admit the problem and put energy into finding someone who can.

So where do you start to become this paragon of leaders who can change styles as required?  Well, start by understanding you.

There are various leadership tests that you can find easily on-line (such as, Myers Briggs) and some of them are free.  Do your homework – find out as much as you can about your own and different leadership styles on this and other websites.

Then start to observe yourself and your organization.  If you look and listen to your people you’ll soon know if your leadership style is right for the times! But be aware, this may mean you have some difficult choices to make. That depends, of course, on how just how good you want to be as a leader!

Wendy Mason is a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those wanting to increase their confidence. If you would like to work on developing your leadership ability or your own confidence, Wendy would happy to work with you.  Her Learn to Be Confident Program is at this link. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@confidencecoach.me  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114