Saturday, January 9, 2010

Leadership Styles – Part I

We do realize that a manager without leadership qualities is hollow from inside. Lack of leadership qualities rob men and those at the helm of affairs of the energy, vision and the drive to lead people out of quagmire of business snags and stumbling blocks and lead them to the path of success, productivity and efficiency. Those who have the leadership qualities are basically humans and have their own way of doing things and in their own style. Style in which they have been groomed or nurtured or matured. It is not necessary that each leader with his own unique style will always be a winner since the style application according to the circumstances may sometime even lead to distress, even though a leader may be applying his abilities positively in his own right. 

The style of a leader thus pays a significant role in the success or otherwise of his efforts to win over a situation or take his team to success. This post therefore talks of leadership styles and after its review, the reader can judge for himself which style should be followed to be successful. There would be occasions that an amalgamation of style s may provide the best answer to a situation.

Generally, there are three basic styles of leadership: autocratic, democratic and delegative. But to elaborate these, few more styles have also been added to the list to be more specific, which will be covered in our subsequent post.

Autocratic Leadership: As the name implies, autocratic leaders are in charge and simply tell their employees what they want done and how they want it accomplished, without getting the advice of their followers. It is usually considered as an extreme form of leadership style wherein the leader is the reigning king and subjects are to obey and not reason why , even if these would be in the team's or organization’s interest. Obviously, normally a much liked style as the team’s output does not benefit from the creativity and experience of all team members, so many of the benefits of teamwork are lost. Therefore this style may be used very sparingly and with extreme caution like when there is no time, and the leader has all the information to solve the problem and the workers understand the limitation (being highly motivated). Even for some routine and unskilled jobs, this style could apply, where the advantages of control outweigh the disadvantages. 


Democratic Leadership: Well democracy is democracy – the more the say – the more the rated decision. But it isn't the way democratic assemblies work where more thumbs means unanimity. Here, the democratic leadership is based on working together in a way that the leader includes one or more team-mates in the decision making process, and NOT everyone, while retaining the power to take the final decision with himself.  This kind of leadership actually display a trust of the leader in his team-mates and draws respect and better teamwork and is usually done when leader may not have all the knowledge and would like to involve those with the requisite know-how. Like for instance the plant supervisor who can better advise on the working of the plant rather than the leader himself who may not be technically sound. 

Delegative Leadership: This style suits best in bigger projects which involves various segments working independently and at the end all outputs merging together for the final output. Like for instance a food processing process in which packing is made somewhere else, and food is processed somewhere else and preservative mechanism working independently. But when coming together, all are packed at one place. So different sub-leaders working independently for an ultimate common goal. In this case the project leader is one, responsible for the whole project and has his responsibility as a whole. But at the same time, if anything goes wrong, the project leader is to be held responsible. If he at that time start the blame game, then that’s not delegative leadership. This works well when the entire team is highly professional, well trained, motivated, spirited, productive and extremely loyal to the leader.

And need less to mention that no single style can be a perfect model for it cannot encompass every situation nor we can have leaders to suit different situations. A good leader has to transform himself according to the situation and wear a style suiting to the situation. That is to say that an amalgamation of traits of all three styles is the best suited approach. That’s good leadership.

Take a Leadership Quiz: What's Your Leadership Style?


Managers using the transactional leadership style receive certain tasks to perform and provide rewards or punishments to team members based on performance results.

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